Our second Girl2 book is Mind Games by Kiersten White. Summary from the publisher: “Seventeen-year-old Fia and her sister Annie are trapped in a school that uses young female psychics and mind readers as tools for corporate espionage–and if Fia doesn’t play by the rules of their deadly game, Annie will be killed.”
I love the structure of the novel. The chapters alternate in two ways: between Annie and Fia’s POVs, and between the past and the present. You get to see what’s currently happening and what led the girls to those circumstances all played out rather than just told. It’s one of the most interesting ways I’ve seen to present the backstory without it turning into an info dump, and it works really well. All the information feels like it’s introduced at the right time. You’re not hanging in suspense for any clues, but you’re also not necessarily anticipating them. The whole thing is pretty well paced.
Switching between Fia and Annie’s POVs is really effective at creating tension between the two sisters. I expected them to be partners, completely in cahoots and in complete agreement with each other, but there was no such camaraderie. Don’t get me wrong–they definitely love each other and they are definitely close, but there is also a lot of misunderstanding between them. The reader is able to see just how much doesn’t line up thanks to the alternating chapters. What makes it so great to read is that both of them feel guilty, both of them feel a strong need to protect the other one, both hate the way they’re living–they just can’t quite match up with each other, until the very end.
FIA AND ANNIE
Fia and Annie are two very different girls. They were orphaned at a young age, and though Annie is the older sister, she’s blind, so Fia took charge of protecting them both. They joined the bad guy school as pre-teens and though Annie’s first few years were happy and ignorant, Fia’s were packed with physical and psychological abuse as she was molded into the “hands” of the operation. Fia’s superpower is her perfect instincts, which I found to be really interesting and innovative, mostly because White didn’t linger on the subject or play it up too much. The first person POV did a lot to keep it subtle, because instead of us watching Fia feel something wrong, we feel it with her as it goes wrong, wrong, WRONG. It always happened so quickly, it felt totally natural.
I really loved Fia’s almost maniacal nature. It was so refreshing and different from your usual heroines. Her particular gift and determination not to plan anything (to avoid psychic detection) allowed her to be really active as a character. She didn’t contemplate or reflect, she just did. Not a thing that happens with lady characters very often. Annie, being both blind and a prisoner, was obviously much more limited in what she could do, but she was still able to subvert her captors in more cerebral ways. As a Seer she certainly has a lot of potential to shape her surroundings, and she has the advantage of being the only one who sees what she sees.
I think that this first book in the series (White has confirmed there IS a sequel!) was really about Fia, who comes out of it with the kind of purpose she hasn’t felt in years. Annie was very much a reactionary character, and I really look forward to seeing her develop and come into her own in the continuation. My one wish with this book is that it had been longer! I loved the pace of it but I wish there had been more to it, since it was such a very quick read. One thing that deserves a mention is that White’s guys are just as great as Fia and Annie, James especially. He’s the hot older guy, the son of the big bad Keane, but he’s very dynamic and not creepy–that is, he’s a character and not just a stock type! Overall, this was an excellent, excellent read and I recommend it for everyone.
Rating: 5/5 stars.