Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: March 5th 2015
My Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Luna is a no-hoper with a secret: in a world of illusion, she can see what is real. But can she see the truth before it is too late?
Luna has always been able to exist in virtual and real worlds at the same time, a secret she is warned to keep. She hides her ability by being a Refuser: excluded by choice from the virtual spheres others inhabit. But when she is singled out for testing, she can’t hide any longer.
The safest thing to do would be to fail, to go back to a dead-end life, no future. But Luna is starting to hope for something better, and hope is a dangerous thing... (from Goodreads)
Luna, the main character, was a Refuser; someone who refused to use technology, such as virtual plug-in systems, and insisted on a conventional education taught by an actual person. No-one could understand her reason for opting out; she wasn't religious and she didn't have a medical exemption. But for Luna, being a Refuser was for a reason she could never reveal to anyone - when plugged in, Luna had dual awareness, meaning that even when she was in virtual reality, she was still conscious of her body in the real world and could control her actions. But doing so made her very sick, and so under strict instructions from her grandmother, who had drilled it into her whole life, Luna never told anyone her secret. I really did like this idea, and I found the way Luna could perceive both worlds very interesting. Luna herself was generally a decent character as well; she clearly cared a lot about her grandmother, but she also hated being ridiculed and wanted to prove she wasn't useless. However, she made a lot of odd decisions and it just took her too long to work things out that were clearly obvious. First of all, she told Gecko most of her big secret like, five minutes after meeting him. Luckily it didn't turn out too badly, but come on. You don't just trust some random boy with your biggest secret you never even told your own family just because he's good looking. Second of all, there were certain people that Luna came into contact with who were clearly shady and whose suggestions were obviously part of some bigger agenda, and she only worked it out last minute when it was too late, and as a result made stupid decisions/mistakes that led to such frustrating consequences. It just didn't seem believable that someone who had spent her life being so cautious would fall so easily into these traps.
The plot, however, was my main issue with this book. I could have overlooked everything with Lila if we'd had a solid plot, but half of it just didn't make sense. Let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed the first half of this book involving the testing centre, the meeting with Gecko and the stuff with Jezzamine and Melrose and Hex. I liked the dynamic between all those characters and how things changed with the situation they were in. But after s'hacking (silver hacking) was introduced, everything just went downhill. I understand that the author did put some work into trying to explain the silver and how everything worked and all these grids, but to me, it made no sense at all. I just didn't get how some people innately had this power, how the void could be programmed into you, like what the hell? I didn't get how the void worked, or why Lila had [spoiler, highlight to read]the silver tattoos (was she born with them?!) and just knew how to control the void with barely any help [end of spoiler] and everything was so confusing. Even regular hacking wasn't explained well - I had no idea how the Implants worked at all. None of this stuff seemed to really have scientific basis and it seemed more like magic than anything else. Trying to explain it with science just didn't work and shouldn't have been attempted. I started skimming towards the end. Like, the hacking/silver/void stuff just seemed made up and not at all like it could actually be possible; I couldn't believe that it could truly be the result of an advanced technological society. And speaking of this advanced society - the world building was poor. We were never told why everyone was suddenly plugging into these virtual worlds, or what led to this happening or how PareCo became such a controlling company. World War III was mentioned a few times but again, it was never explained fully, we didn't find out what it was really about or why exactly it arose or how the outcome led to society becoming this way. And while I could believe some aspects of this novel (the more Psycho-Pass reminiscent aspects, if you've seen that anime that's a major clue), I mostly found it unrealistic and lacking explanation.
The ending I found especially disappointing, a) because it seemed rushed, and b) because we had spent so much time reading about this technology that could seemingly do anything, it then felt unrealistic that what had happened couldn't be resolved by using this technology, or at least temporarily leaving things the way they were until a solution was found. It just seemed like a sudden and kind of unnecessary decision to assume that things HAD to end that way.
Overall, I was disappointed with Mind Games. My main issue was the confusion I had, though it may just be me not understanding the explanations.