Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mindwar by Andrew Klavan--Book Review

Four months ago, Rick Dial was in a car accident that crippled his legs and left him without the ability to play football. After shutting almost anyone important out of his life, Rick resorts to beating video games with the highest scores in the world. It's not long before he is recruited to enter the Realm, a digital reality created by a terrorist bent on the destruction of America. But the Realm isn't just a video game; it's dangerous and Rick only gets one life. As he joins forces to fight against the Mind War, he learns nothing is as it seems.

I've read most of Andrew Klavan's young adult novels. I liked some and thought others were okay, decent. For Mindwar, the idea of the book sounded fascinating. I enjoyed the book though it was a quick, easy read. But I wouldn't call the book great.

The set-up of the book itself was fantastic and had me excited from the start. By this, I refer to the chapter titles and sections the book is divided in. Each chapter title is the name of a video game! I thought that was cool (and yes, I did look up every chapter to make sure). Also, the book is divided into sections or levels as they are called like video games were. I thought this was clever and it intrigued me at the start.

The Realm itself was pretty cool. While it wasn't as detailed as I would have liked, the idea behind it and what Rick could do within the Realm was exciting. There were monsters and magical weapons and all sorts of fantasy-driven ideas (so fans of fantasy might like the story). Dragons, guys! There were even dragons! (Sorry, I apologize for my obsession.)

I felt the characters fit the story line also. The situations the characters were stuck in at the beginning of the novel opened up the story to run smoothly. I mean, a crippled kid playing video games and essentially hating his life is the best set-up for an exciting adventure inside a digital world, where he can walk again and also learn to be a hero and appreciate his life.

As I said, the book was a quick and easy read. It wasn't too dark or deep, though it could be for a different age group, I suppose. The story line was intriguing, though at some points I did feel that things fell into place a little too easily. Rick always found a way out of the danger in an almost magical fashion (but I do suppose, it's a digital realm, a video game based novel, with fantasy and science fiction laced throughout. Magical should happen.)

The enemy, a terrorist, fit but I didn't see a clear reason why he was so bent on destroying America and other countries. I think his back story needs  more fleshing out, which might happen in the next two novels (did I mention it's a trilogy?)

Last, the logistics of the Realm didn't always sit well with me. It felt too easy. The connection between a digital world and playing video games with a controller didn't line up. Rick's abilities in the Realm weren't given any explanation or consequences. (if you want to read more about this, see this review I found questioning it further).

Given all of that, I think this book is exciting and that readers will love it. I definitely think anyone from a pre-teen to a teen will enjoy it the most, though I think adults could get into the story also. It has its strong points that keep the story flowing and entertaining. I think I will look into the sequel, Hostage Run, when it releases next year!

Plus: dragons, guys!

-Jaguar Hero!

 I received this book for free through BookLook from Thomas Nelson publishing to give my open and honest opinion of the story, nothing more and nothing less.

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