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Ain’t No Candyland

Kiersten White’s Mind Games duology is what some faceless movie critics might call a “fast-paced thrill ride.”

Ain’t No Candyland

BOOK REPORT for Mind Games and Perfect Lies (Mind Games #1 and #2) by Kiersten White

Cover Story: Mosaic-ish Big Faces
BFF Charm: Yay? and Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: She Said, She Said: Non-Chronological Edition
Bonus Factor: Shades of Fearless
Anti-Bonus Factor: Dangerous Codependency
Relationship Status: Roller Coaster Riders

Cover Story: Mosaic-ish Big Faces

We meet again, Big Face. At least this time, you’ve got a little bit more interest happening with the photo mosaic-ish overlays and that pretty fierce pink lipstick.

The Deal:

Fia and Annie are sisters with secrets … and special powers. (Fia has near-flawless instincts and Annie can see glimpses of the future.) When they were young, these powers caught the attention of a prestigious private school for “special” girls run by the Keane Foundation, a mysterious organization run by an equally mysterious man. The girls were given scholarships and trained to use their gifts, but soon came to realize that what they were being trained for weren’t the normal next steps of college and a good career.

BFF Charm: Yay? and Yay

Fia is a troubled girl. She’s forced into a life she never wanted and made to use her gift for things she knows is wrong. Because of this, throughout the two books, she spirals deeper and deeper into scary territory. She’s awesome, in that she’s willing to do almost anything to protect the people she loves, but she’s broken. So very, very badly. A person with Fia’s gifts and training who’s falling apart not so slowly at times would make for a scary friend.

Annie is kind of the flip side to Fia’s coin. She’s sweet and caring and a little bit too trusting. She has to be, though, in a very literal sense: She’s blind, and has been since birth. She doesn’t let this disability stop her, and she does as much as she can to be independent, which is a great quality in any person, blind or not. Additionally, she loves Fia more than anything in the world and would do pretty much anything for her. Loyalty is definitely high up on my list of good friend-making qualities.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Over the course of the story that runs through both Mind Games and Perfect Lies, both girls have run-ins with gents that are quite swoonworthy. I’m not going to say with whom they have these run-ins, to avoid spoilers, but at one point, Annie has a vision of her own future that is really lovely:

Someone reaches out and laces his fingers through mine and my world blossoms with color—inside the darkness. It’s color and light and life that I feel inside me instead of seeing outside. I’m wild with giddy joy, a warm heat flaring like something long dormant in my heart has finally been switched on.

Not gonna lie—I totally squeed out loud when I read this.

Talky Talk: She Said, She Said: Non-Chronological Edition

Kiersten White switches between Fia and Annie’s points of view with every two chapters of Mind Games (until the last three chapters) and with every other chapter in Perfect Lies, which, thankfully, isn’t that confusing due to the differences in Fia and Annie’s personalities. Over the course of the two books, Fia’s descent into near madness is almost palpable, and Annie’s growth as a strong woman is very apparent, too.

What is confusing, however, is that, in addition to switching POVs, White jumps back and forth in time with each chapter. In Mind Games, the jumps are mostly between “present day” and the distant past, which is not too hard to follow. In Perfect Lies, the jumps cause more issue, as they are between a few days “before” some unknown (at the beginning of the book) event and a few months “before.” By the end of the book, the timelines catch up with each other. White has found an interesting way to build tension in a story, but I found myself having to frequently check back to the start of each chapter to figure out “when” I was reading about.

Bonus Factor: Shades of Fearless

At the start, Fia reminds me a whole lot of one of my other favorite badass female characters: Gaia from Francine Pascal’s Fearless series. I read the crap out of these books when I was in high school. Both Fia and Gaia have serious issues and are forced into crappy situations, but they pretty much always come out on the other side stronger.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Dangerous Codependency

Fia’s guy of choice is not a good guy. Sure, he’s smokin’ hot, charming and powerful. But he’s also shady, smarmy and sets off warning bells in Fia’s mind, which she only halfheartedly tries to ignore. It’s so frustrating reading about her getting in too deep and not being able to yell some sense into her.

Casting Call:

Zoey Deutch as Fia

Emmy Rossum as Annie

Relationship Status: Roller Coaster Riders

Well, Books, that was certainly something. I don’t typically enjoy carnival rides, but in your case(s) I’m willing to make an exception. From the very start, you were off and racing, screaming around twists and turns with the occasional deceptive pause in the action. I’m a little worried about the state of your characters’ mental health, but I like to imagine that now that the ride has come to a stop, we can all go get funnel cakes and fresh-squeezed lemonade and enjoy them sitting on benches resting firmly on the ground.

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased a copy of Mind Games and received a free review copy of Perfect Lies from HarperTeen. I received neither half-price Valentine’s candy nor money for this review. Both Mind Games and Perfect Lies are available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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