Mind Games: review

February 5, 2013 2013, 4 star books, kiersten white, mature themes, tonya 66 ★★★★

Mind Games: reviewMind Games by Kiersten White
Series: Mind Games #1
Published by Harper Collins on December 3, 2012
Genres: paranormal
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher, Purchased
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
Perfect for fans of Sara Shepard's The Lying Game series, Kiersten White's Mind Games, a novel about two sisters trapped in a web of deceit, was called "lightning fast and fabulously fun" by bestselling author Laini Taylor.

Fia and Annie are as close as two sisters can be. They look out for each other. Protect each other. And most importantly, they keep each other's secrets, even the most dangerous ones: Annie is blind, but can see visions of the future; Fia was born with flawless intuition—her first impulse is always exactly right. When the sisters are offered a place at an elite boarding school, Fia realizes that something is wrong . . . but she doesn't grasp just how wrong. The Keane Institute is no ordinary school, and Fia is soon used for everything from picking stocks to planting bombs. If she tries to refuse, they threaten her with Annie's life. Now Fia's falling in love with a boy who has dark secrets of his own. And with his help, she's ready to fight back. They stole her past. They control her present. But she won't let them take her future.

I wasn’t really sure what I was in for when I started Mind Games. I’d only read the first in Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series, and while it was cute with great world-building, it wasn’t enough to get me invested in finishing the rest of the series. Evie just felt so young. (You know. Like how young sixteen year olds are, compared to a wizened spinster of 30…)

But, you guys? Fia is no Evie. Not even close.

The moment he bends over to help the sorrow-eyed spaniel puppy, I know I won’t be able to kill him.

This, of course, ruins my entire day.

Sophia (Fia) is a trained assassin. A spy. A thief. She is whatever Keane needs her to be; an indentured villain with perfect instincts she doesn’t always understand, but always follows. And she will never, ever be able to escape.

Because if she tries, they’ll hurt Annie, her sister who is blind to everything but the future. Her sister who is the reason they’re trapped in the Keane Foundation anyway, whose abilities were the reason they were invited to the school after their parents’ death. The reason they stayed even when Fia’s instincts told her to run fast and far away from it.

So, she has to kill this boy. Adam. She has to do it or they’ll hurt her sister. But she can’t.  She can’t kill the boy who is sweet to a puppy, who looks at her like she’s a real girl without blood on her hands. Like she’s clean and sweet, and maybe he wants to touch her.

He wouldn’t want to touch her if he knew.

She can’t kill him. So she follows her perfect instincts to hide him instead. And…well, that’s about all I can tell you without spoilers.

But I can tell you it’s twisted and dark. It’s sexy and violent–much more so than I would have previously expected from White. And it’s sad. What impressed me the most about Mind Games was Fia’s pain. Her absolute self-loathing and reluctance, even when she is vicious and ruthless. She hates herself, and part of her hates Annie too, but she’ll do anything–anything–to protect her sister.

I think some might be turned off by the structure and style of this book, though I happened to really enjoy it. It’s told from both Annie and Fia’s point of views, shifting back and forth from past to present. Fia’s narrative style is a bit stream-of-consciousness-ish, which can be hard to follow, but I found it a perfect representation of how unhinged she is.

And for me, Fia’s borderline insanity is what makes the story live up to its title–well, that and the ending. Which was less a mind game and more a mind *expletive*.

Mind Games was a fascinating and frenetic read, and I can’t wait to see what White has in store for its sequel.

This review also appears on GoodReads.

Tonya sig - teal

66 Responses to “Mind Games: review”

  1. Michelle Morris

    Wow. I wasn’t so sure about reading this book, but now that I’ve seen your review… I have to get my hands on it.

    I haven’t read anything by Kiersten White, so I think I’ll try this one before Paranormalcy.

  2. rabbitsfortea

    Argh, I’ve been really looking forward to this but a few reviews made me put it further down my TBR list and now a 4 star review from you? Damn. I’ve never read her previous series so I’m really not too sure about her writing and assassins do sound terribly tempting. Seems like I’ll have to be the judge for myself given the many mixed reviews!


  3. Evette Torres

    Thanks for the review. I really liked Paranormalcy so to here that it will be different makes me happy. I like when authors change things up a little. :) I’ve heard some good reviews about this book. I can’t wait to read it!

  4. Jamie

    I’m so happy to see this review because I’ve had an ARC of this but some of the first reviews coming out that I saw were not positive at all which gave me the sads because I was REALLY excited about this one! Now I think I’m going to give it a try!

  5. starryeyedjen

    I’m glad to see you enjoyed this book. I’ve seen so many mixed reviews, and I was so afraid it would be too similar to her Paranormalcy series in style. But this line cauhht my attention: “Which was less a mind game and more a mind *expletive*.” And so I think I definitely need to give it a try. :)

  6. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    OOOh I love mind *expletives*!! I had been seeing nothing but bad things about this book and I was so upset because it’s one I had been so excited for. But now the good reviews are slowly started to trickle in which is great because I am starting this today. The best thing? I have absolutely ZERO idea where to put my expectations for it now that I have seen so much of people feeling either love for it or hate. I love not knowing what I am getting myself into. Wonderful review!

  7. Annabelle Marie Veronica

    I really liked this one too, Tonya! I honestly was not a huge fan of Paranormalcy either, and I feel like Kiersten has really matured as a writer in this book, although the writing style is remarkably stream-of-consciousness. I adore James, and definitely am looking forward to more. Excellent, thoughtful review, love!

  8. Traci @ The Reading Geek

    Great review! I’m really excited about this one because I actually really enjoyed the Paranormalcy series. (I understand what you mean though about Evie being young) Mind Games sounds really great though. I love a dark and twitsed story. Also I’m really curious about this whole borderline insanity aspect going on with Fia.

    • tonya

      It’s definitely a departure from Paranormalcy. Fia is completely unhinged, and I loved it.

      I hope you enjoy!

  9. readingdate

    I’m glad to hear you liked this one, Tonya. I had similar thoughts about Paranormalcy so I wasn’t sure if this book would be for me either. But maybe I’ll give it a go!

    • tonya

      It’s definitely nothing like Paranormalcy–if I didn’t know better, I would never have guessed it was the same author.

      I hope you give it a chance! :)

  10. Candace

    I sometimes felt a bit confused with the back and forth, but for the most part I really enjoyed this book and that ending was EPIC!

    • tonya

      I agree it was a bit confusing, but I think added another layer of chaos to Fia’s narration.

      And yes! The end. GAH. Need book 2 nowwww.

  11. Go Flash Go

    Ahhh – I’m excited about this one! I tend to skim over reviewers of book which I haven’t read for fear of seeing spoilers, so thank you for avoiding that!

    Stephanie (Go Flash Go)

    • tonya

      You’re welcome! It was a little tricky trying to figure out what to say without spoiling anything major we don’t learn within the first few pages.

      I hope you like this one!

  12. Savannah Bookswithbite

    I loved the ending. I think that is where it all came together for me and where I was hooked. The plot did start off slow but eventually, I love the whole insanity plot.

    • tonya

      I agree, it took me a bit to really feel comfortable in the story, but then I was completely immersed. And the ending. WHEW. Can’t wait for book 2!

  13. Nikki

    You had me at the adjectives twisted, dark, violent and sexy. This is my kind of book! What I love most is that it sounds like White doesn’t try to make her kick-ass assassain anything more than what she is— dangerous and uncensored. Too often, I think, we see these fierce female leads who fall back into this propriety and uber-feminine facade, but seriously, if you’re an unhinged killer— you’re an unhinged killer. It’s okay to be too much of one persona, even if it’s a rough and tumble one. I look forward to reading this book!

    • tonya

      I totally agree! And while Fia is still very feminine, and isn’t necessarily a WILLING killer, there is part of her that is proud and arrogant about what she can do. It was very refreshing to see a character own that kind of deadly strength, even while she hated it.

      And what’s even more refreshing is that not once did some guy come and save her. Fia took every punch, and gave back just as hard.

      I hope you end up liking Mind Games as much as I did!

  14. Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

    I enjoyed the first Paranormalcy book too.
    I have this on my stack and am excited to try it. People seem to have very strong opinions one way or the other, so I’m glad to see a positive review. Also applaud the author for trying something completely different than her first series, which is always a risk…

    • tonya

      Yes, reviews have been a mixed bag, I’m realizing. I’m used to being the odd man out with my opinions, but it’s usually the other way around. I quite like being on the positive side of things. ;)

      And I agree–this was a very gutsy departure for White, and in my opinion her risk paid off. It was a great read.

  15. Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews)

    Glad to hear you enjoyed this one, Tonya. I’ve actually read a bunch of not so great reviews for Mind Games which makes me a little hesitant to pick it up even though I think it sounds pretty cool. I’ve heard the style of this one can be a little difficult to warm to.

    • tonya

      I’m beginning to realize reactions are mixed on this one. I agree that the format is not for everyone–I can see how it could be distracting or confusing. I wasn’t bothered by it, though, and I think it really added another layer to the characterizations.

      I hope you give it a chance! :)

  16. Mia

    I share your exact sentiments withe Paranormalcy series. I read the first and while it was great, it just did not hold my interest.
    This sounds like it departs completely though and your review has made me thoroughly interested in it.

    • tonya

      It really is a complete departure from the feel of Paranormalcy. I think you’ll find it a much more engaging and exciting read.

  17. Bookworm1858

    I’m very excited to check this out since I enjoyed the potential of White’s writing in the Paranormalcy series so much-looking forward to a more adult and frenetic story!

    • tonya

      It’s such a departure from her other books, I think you’ll really be able to see how she’s grown as a writer.

  18. Kyle Galvin

    I read Paranormalcy and its sequel as well, and I think I’ll have to check this one out just to see how much White as darkened with this book.

    Sounds great though, excellent review! :)

    • tonya

      While I’ve only read the first in the series, so don’t know how dark (if at all) Evie became–I think it’s safe to say Fia is a vast departure from her.

      I hope you enjoy the new dark and deadly Kiersten White!

  19. The Readingista

    You liked this more than I did. I love the premise and there is no doubt that the first sentence grabbed my attention. Unfortunately, I got hung up on a couple of annoyances that I couldn’t let go of. That being said, the end definitely left me with a promising outlook for the second in series. I think that I like the direction of where things are going.
    Great review.

    • tonya

      Thank you! May I ask what things annoyed you? It wasn’t a perfect book by any means, but I think just different and exciting enough to keep me invested until the end.

      I hope the 2nd book is better for you!

  20. Tabitha

    I think you got me as soon as you said “twisted and dark”. It may sounds weird, but those are always my favorite books. And I’ve never read anything by this author, so I’m really looking forward to this one! Great review.

    • tonya

      I like the twisted and dark too (obviously). I find them so fascinating, as compared to MCs who are just so *good*.

      Hope you enjoy Mind Games when it’s released!

  21. JQ Trotter

    I’m glad to hear that this book is worth at least four stars. As soon as I saw the cover I wanted to read it. It’s one of my must-read-February releases. Thanks for the review!

    • tonya

      The cover is gorgeous, isn’t it? I’m glad publishers are beginning to stray from the Girl in Prom Dress format.

      I hope you like Mind Games as much as I did!

  22. Karen

    It took me a little while to get in tot he writing style of Mind Games but I was totally hooked by the end. White really pulls it all together in the second half.

    I think it’s going to get really mixed (or even a lot of negative) reviews because the writing is so chaotic at times, but it reflects Fia’s unhinged personality.

    • tonya

      I totally agree. Fia’s narration is *so* chaotic, but it just adds to her characterization, in my opinion. I’m glad you enjoyed this as well!

    • tonya

      I haven’t read Grave Mercy! The last assassin book I read was Throne of Glass, which was different as it was a fantasy, but still whet my appetite for more kick-ass heroines.

  23. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    This book sounds really cool. I love spies and assassins, and I don’t mind interesting stream-of-consciousness writing. The moral dilemma of the main character, Fia is also fascinating. I’m a little nervous about the dual perspectives and the switching between past and present, however. Is this part of a series?

    • tonya

      I believe it’s the first in a trilogy, yes. I, too, am a little wary of books with dual POVs and shifting timelines, as it can so often be confusing and distracting, but I found this format really added to the storyline.

  24. Keertana

    Wow, I think this is one of the few positive reviews I’ve seen for this book, believe it or not. For some reason, most readers seemed to have disliked it and White’s style, although I did enjoy the Paranormalcy Trilogy to an extent. I may have to add this back to my shelves, so fantastic review, Tonya! :)

    • tonya

      I’m beginning to see that! I hadn’t looked up other reviews before posting mine. I can definitely see how the style would be offputting to some, so it’s not a surprise that there are so many mixed feelings about it. Still, I hope you give it a shot! :)

  25. Wendy Darling

    I think I need to give this one another go since you enjoyed it so much! I was confused by the first couple of chapters, but the way you describe the book is really appealing. Particularly the “borderline insane” observation, hah.

    • tonya

      You know, I think I might end up being in the minority on this one. (Shock–that’s never happened before. ;) But I did really like how twisted and dark it was. The story really picks up and becomes more clear in the second half, so if you’re struggling to get through the first couple chapters I would say push on a bit further and see if it gets any better for you!

  26. Livvy

    I’m glad you managed to enjoy this one, Tonya. Unfortunately for me, it really wasn’t my type of book and it was more than just the structure that put me off.

    However I think you capture that this book has lots to offer with the dark and twisted side to it.

    Great review! :)

    • tonya

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it as much as I did, Livvy. It’s a strange and disturbing story. I don’t think it’s for everyone, and I can see there are already some very mixed feelings about it.

  27. Amy

    I’m glad that you really enjoyed this one. I found that the format of writing made it hard for me to connect to the characters. I wanted to love this one, but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. Awesome review!!

    • tonya

      I can totally see how that would be the case. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy as much as I did!

  28. Liviania

    I didn’t love this one – I thought the structure was only okay and found the ending a touch preposterous.

    • tonya

      The ending was a little over the top, I agree. But I still loved how twisted it was.

      I think this is a book that people will love or hate; the way it’s structured leaves no in between unfortunately.

  29. Sam

    Great review, Tonya! I’m glad this worked for you. Like you mentioned, the structure probably isn’t for everyone, and I think I fall into that category. I struggled to enjoy this, unfortunately, but I hope the next book will live up to your expectations. :)

    • tonya

      I can totally see how it might not work for others, and frankly I was surprised at how well it worked for me. Typically I find dual POVs distracting, and the added complication of shifting timelines should have made it completely unreadable for me. Perhaps just a matter of right book at the right time, but I did really enjoy it.

  30. Mary @ BookSwarm

    This one totally is a mind f*#$. Fia is both fantastic and horrifying at the same time. She’s doing everything because of her sister but she seems to enjoy it as well. Such self-loathing yet knowledge that she’s fabulous at what she does. A lot packed into a rather short book.

    • tonya

      Yes! The revulsion with a layer of pride. Her confliction emotions were what really grabbed me about the story.

    • tonya

      Thank you! I have a hard time with shifting POVs too, I typically find them very distracting. And I’ll admit this might be the case for others reading Mind Games, but in this particular instance I felt it added another layer to the story.

  31. Eve LeBeau

    Even though I haven’t read Kiersten White’s other books, I’m really excited for this one! It looks like Fia is going to turn out to be an intriguing heroine. It’s always the hero who’s a bit on the crazy side, so it’s nice to see role-reversal here. It’s two weeks until the release date, so the wait won’t be too long.
    Great review!

    • tonya

      Exactly. It’s Fia’s conlicting emotions that really got me invested in the story. It’s truly disturbing… which I liked. (Which also might be a bit disturbing? Heh.)

  32. Mel@Thedailyprophecy

    You know, I kind of liked her Paranormalcy books (still need to read Endlessly though), but I’m happy to hear that she can handle dark and twisted stories too :) I like the sound from Fia and I can’t wait to see where this story is going to. Nice review!


    • tonya

      I didn’t necessarily dislike Paranormalcy, but it just wasn’t really my thing. I was very happily surprised with the turn White’s writing took in Mind Games. I think she’s really grown as an author from her first series to this one. :)