In Susan Kaye Quinn‘s opening salvo in the Mindjacking trilogy, Open Minds, it’s tough being a teen and being substantially different. It seems our dear Kira is a Zero – she can’t read others thoughts as can most in society once of age. Readers thoughts are open to each other; Zeros can’t be read and, hence, can’t be trusted. They can keep secrets. In the scheme of things, it wasn’t that long ago that Readers were the odd ones, they were mistrusted because they can read you. Now that they were the majority, they looked askance at everyone else. Some things never change. In addition to trying to navigate life as a Zero while in high school (ugh), she accidentally discovers she can control others thoughts and down the mindjacking rabbit-hole she goes.
Open Minds has a clever premise that is well executed. Susan Kaye Quinn builds a consistent vision of this oppressive world where being different can get you locked up in jail, or worse. While this is clearly a targeted YA book, her characters and relationships are built to the point where they seem real. Often these characters make unwise decisions as we do in “real” live. For example, our protagonist gets involved with two guys, one of whom plays on her not being “normal” like him. They’re odd together. Avoiding spoilers one way or another, he has the image of a “bad boy.” It’s one of the more interesting love triangles I’ve read with real plausibility. Like this triangle, the relationships developed seem natural, the characters, have reasonable depth and her world is sparkling new and intriguing. These mind-talents also lend themselves to great story material.
I went between the Kindle and Audible versions of the book, spending the majority of my time with the audiobook. Kelli Shane provides narration for the book. Ms. Shane seemed to have an uneven performance. There are times when her timing, pitch, and tone are spot-on and others where she sounds like she’s reading a book report for a 10th grade English class. The words are neutrally placed before us with no emphasis, timing or pitch variations. I don’t know if she was left alone in a recording booth and there was no direction when she wavered from a full-blooded performance, but while she never becomes monotone and completely devoid of emotional connection to the material, it comes across weakly. Her narration is professional enough to not distract but it doesn’t really add to the book either.
Overall, Ms. Quinn’s writing matches the audience and her fast narrative approach. It’s fairly straight-forward and uncomplicated. The characters are well-developed and her world is fascinating. Open Minds is a worthwhile read; I’ve already picked up the sequel, Close Hearts and will review it separately.
World Building: 5/5