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What The World Needs Now Is A Bunch of Mutant Teens At A Boarding School

A review of Minder, a Ganzfield novel, by Kate Kaynak, which features the best literary sport outside of Hogwarts.

What The World Needs Now Is A Bunch of Mutant Teens At A Boarding School

BOOK REPORT for Minder (Ganzfield Book 1) by Kate Kaynak

Cover Story: The Shadow Knows
BFF Charm: Finally!
Swoonworthy Scale: 4 or 6
Talky Talk: 2 Legit 2 Quit
Bonus Factors: Boarding School, World Building, Fireball
Relationship Status: Looking Forward To Our Second Date

Cover Story: The Shadow Knows

While it's very obvious to me now, I spent the entire time I was reading this thinking that that white space in the middle of the book was a really oddly shaped chess piece.

The Deal:

Maddie Dunn is attacked in her own neighborhood and about to be raped when she kills all three of her attackers with a thought. So of course the next day, a Dr. X Dr. Williamson comes to take her to a special school --Ganzfield. Once there, (and injected with a serum that will activate her gift even more) Maddie finds herself surrounded by mutants people with special abilities: Charms, who can enforce their will upon another just by using their outside voice; Sparks, or people with pyrokinesis; Healers, who well, heal people; Minders, like herself --those with the ability to read minds and/or communicate telepathically; and one very tall dark and handsome Telekinetic (I don't remember the nickname for him, so let's just call him 'Handsy').

But Maddie wonders at the true purpose of Ganzfield, and just who the Sons Of Adam are, and where she and her friends will fit into the world. That is if they survive and avoid going crazy before they graduate.

BFF Charm: Finally!

It's not that I didn't like Maddie in the beginning, but it took me a while to feel like I was getting to know her. I mean, granted, a lot of things were happening to her in a very short amount of time, so maybe she just wasn't able to deal with things like would have liked. I mean, she didn't ever really deal (to MY satisfaction, anyway) with the fact that she was almost raped and then murdered her would-be rapists --albeit accidentally. But the girl is tough and strong, and quick to stand up for others (a trait I'd love in a BFF). So while I'd be a little concerned about the danger being her bestie might put me in --unless I developed a power too, of course-- I'd like to think that in non-life-or-death situations I'd have Maddie's back.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4 or 6

The romance in this book is straight forward and sweet. They meet, they like each other, they start dating, they declare eternal love. Oh, and also, they spend much of the book communicating telepathically. So while there are lots of nice moments that make this a kissing book, I really missed the whole, 'does he/she like me' build up and uncertainty. Which, I get, is hard to do when you can read the other person's mind (Can you imagine? First off, I really would never want to be able to read a significant other's mind. I just... don't want to know). So while I can't say that I can think of another way for Kaynak to have told this part of the story, I can stand back and make judgements from afar about how I wished it could have been a little different. Luckily enough, this is just the first book in the series, so there's plenty of time for Kaynak to bring in some conflict!

Talky Talk: 2 Legit 2 Quit

Kaynak's writing style was straight forward and driving, but told a convincing teen narrative --from the moments when Maddie can read the dirty thoughts of the kids around her, to her own fears and trepidations herself, to her temptations to use her power in some very grey area-ways. The story moved, and the suspense was really well done.

Bonus Factor: Boarding School

Boarding School!!!! It's been many books since I got to read about boarding school, so this one filled that special place in my heart that only imagining going to boarding school can do. Even better? Boarding School with super powers.

Bonus Factor: World Building

Here is where Kaynak really excelled. The world her characters lived in felt really established and concrete. She developed and described it succinctly -- pulled you in and let you live there.

Bonus Factor: Fireball

I guess this could really be classified as 'World Building, Part 2'. But take a bunch of kids who can create and manipulate fire, and what do they want to do? Make a sport, of course! This is the best creation since Quidditch.

Casting Call:

Dakota Fanning as Maddie

Dakota definitely has the acting chops it would take to effectively play a mind reader. Plus, she's already had experience at the 'causing people brain-pain' thing.

Ethan Peck as Trevor

And if Ethan played Trevor, nobody would mind that they skipped the conflict and headed straight for the smoochies.

Relationship Status: Looking Forward To Our Second Date

I had no idea what I was in for when my friends set me up with this book, so while I had a few problems with its personality, it was still interesting enough to make me want to go out with it again. It's way too early to know where this thing between us is headed, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy from Spencer Hill Press.I received neither moneynor cocktails for this review (damnit!). Minder is available now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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