Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.
Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.
In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost. — Goodreads Description
Okay, so I was totally drawn in by the cover. (Literally nobody is surprised at this point.) On closer look I’m not particularly a fan of how the cover is made up (those overlapping pictures just look weird, to be honest), but I love the colours! The blue accents go so well with the pink lips, man. This is totally why I picked it up, not even going to lie.
That said, as is often the case, the cover was shinier than the story. Not that it was bad, just… not as shiny. Now I’m one of those horrible people who likes seeing protagonists in pain. The more anguish and pain they are in, the more anguish and pain I am in and that makes me happy. It’s why tv shows like Alias with rather unrealistic plots (quest for immortality, anyone??) and an overabundance of lense flares and unnecessary torture scenes (but not as psychologically rattling as Spooks season 2) are my jam. Add to that ex-KGB agents with dubious goals and you’ve got me sold. (Look at this blogger go and not mention Orphan Black for once. Oops. There it is.)
Unfortunately despite the great promise of teenagers being used and abused by the school that’s supposedly going to help them Mind Games was not as great as I had hoped it would be. Now there’s certainly girls and a school and corporate espionage (why? why? YOU COULD’VE GONE ON A QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY BUT INSTEAD YOU USE THEM FOR CORPORATE ESPIONAGE, WHAT? WHERE ARE THE FEDERAL AUTHORITIES THAT USE PSYCHICS FOR THEIR OWN
NEFARIOUS HONORABLE OBJECTIVES????) and mean people, but that’s about it.
The book is divided into almost always alternating chapters from either Fia’s or Annie’s point of view, and then also alternating between the present and chapters from months and years before, presumably to further explain the girls’ background (which didn’t work because it kept confusing me). Occasionally, unless I’m totally misremembering it now, which let’s be real might very well be the case, two consecutive chapters are by the same girl. Not that it really matters, because it wasn’t very obvious who was POVing at times despite the chapter head saying either Annie or Fia.
I couldn’t really connect with either of them, but then I pride myself on not being as selfish as either of these sisters. I liked Sofia well enough — she’s far from perfect and she knows it. She’s temperamental and pretty much unhinged. Like, seriously unhinged. 10 out of 10 people would recommend a longterm stay in a psychiatric facility. She’s with the school because of her sister, because she herself has flawless instincts which she has to use time and again to please the powers that be. She hates herself for the things she’s done and she loves her older sister Annie so so so much, it’s the only thing that keeps her going. Like, wow, A+, a character with actual issues, a character who is not okay with the things they end up doing. I was really into that.
And then… I was really not into Annie. Like, okay, so the girl’s blind and has occasional visions. That’s what makes her special enough for that weird school to notice her, yeah? Annie is so incredibly selfish and self-absorbed, HOW DOES SHE EVEN MANAGE TO OCCASIONALLY THINK OF HER YOUNGER SISTER?? Oh wait. She only does so when it affects herself. I understand her behaviour when she’s younger, but my holey memory tells me that Annie is two years older than Fia, so that makes her roundabout 19. Now I was very naive and sheltered at 19, but I also managed to grow out of a lot of things I did six years before that. Annie did not. She has no regard for her sister at all, despite protestations of the opposite, and the only times she shows that supposed regard is when, surprise, Fia does a thing that holier-than-thou Annie would never do. Any and all interaction with Fia ends with Annie pondering herself. Even her thoughts regarding how she’s a terrible sister (100 points to you, girl) and whatnot… it still manages to all sound so egocentric and I was pissed off during most of her chapters.
Other than Annie and Fia there is probably only one other girl going to that school. (I kid. There are more. I guess. We don’t see them. Ever.) Eden, some sort of friend to Annie and antagonist to Fia, only exists as a plot device. She’s either thrown between the sisters to drive them apart (Eden loathes Fia with the fiery passion of a burning sun) or thrown between Fia and love interest #1. She doesn’t really have any traits besides some psychic ability or other that she keeps being made to use on Fia and which makes her loathe Fia even more. Whatever, girl, I bet Fia would love to have your issues. There are a handful more characters but frankly they’re all pretty flat and personally I think Fia could use a therapist more than she could use a potential boyfriend. Not that I felt any vibes between her and that potential boyfriend. He seemed more like an overprotective brother with a shady past.
Now after all that rambling, all I can say with certainty is that the book is very character-driven. There is no plot except for the end, which was set up to intrigue readers for the sequel, let’s be real. I really liked the idea of this school full of psychics and a bad guy using them for evil, but we didn’t really get that at all. If it hadn’t been for the occasional reminder that it is set in Chicago, it could’ve been anywhere. Aside from the bit at the end, the most I got to “see” was Fia’s empty flat and Annie’s room and empty hallway in the school, and frankly I wish there had been more regarding the settings… I don’t need pages upon pages of visual descriptions that didn’t leave a mark anywhere in my brain. Everything felt really simple and sterile, and the “plot” relied too much on me getting off on the inner monologues of a selfish brat and a basket case.
In the end I’m just really disappointed, because I was super stoked for the book and it could’ve been great, but it wasn’t. The writing wasn’t particularly inspired and aside from Fia most of the characters were really flat and used as plot devices. For what it’s worth the ending did intrigue me and I want to see if Sofia’s going to leave all that misery behind at one point, so two and a half teacups it is.