October2015

Mindwalker review by Damilare, a student of British International School, Lagos, Nigeria

A three-word summary of Mindwalker: “1984 for Millenials.” From quite literally the first line of chapter 2,  I  deciphered the nature of this book and the world it depicts. Orwellian worlds are easy to make but difficult to pull off, and I found myself pleasantly surprised that Mindwalker does indeed pull it off. At times the parallels to 1984 are like mirror images, if a bit simplified for a younger audience.

Here are some of the similarities I observed:

  • The Blackcoats in Mindwalker fill the same role as the Brotherhood in 1984. These are Rebels who fight against the totalitarian state. They are painted as terrorists and monsters by the government and the media.
  • IFEN, the organization that trains the Mindwalkers and puts them to work fills the same role as the Ministry of Truth. Revising history in order to keep the people placated and unaware of what’s really going on.
  • Just like in 1984, those who criticize the government are deemed mentally ill and are mentally conditioned.
  • Just like in 1984 there is an organization at play in the world that maintains control of the past. While in 1984 it was through the destruction and alteration of records held in libraries, in Mindwalker it is through the destruction and alteration of people’s very memories!

Aside from those there are a few things about this world I would like to briefly talk about:

  • Somnazol- A little pink pill, which is advertised to everyone, including minors in schools. A little pink pill that almost anyone can get, that kills you a few minutes after you ingest it. What really interests me about Somnazol is the parallels it seems to have with abortion, but that might just be me.
  • New Vitro- As part of the Government’s plan to create the perfect, ultra mentally healthy master race. Yes, that is this book’s “thing”. Those considered “mentally healthy” (Those who don’t question authority), are pressured to clone themselves instead of having children the traditional way.

Returning to the Mindwalkers. These are individuals, primarily teenagers, who specialize in the deletion of traumatic memories. Understandably there is some contention in this world about the practical and ethical nature of the Mindwalkers and what they do.

The main character, Lain Fisher is a 17 year old girl who aspires to be a Mindwalker, and is training to become one. She aspires so much that the thought of losing her job is enough to drive her to hysteria and cause her to lash out. Understandably: without any parents or friends, her “purpose” is all she has. That and a lot of stuffed animals.

Lain is an interesting character if a bit un-original, seeming to fill the Cookie Cutter archetype of “troubled hero”. But it’s a shape she fills well and she never becomes annoying or tedious. The other two main characters are as follows:

  • Steven Bent: A troubled boy who attends the same school as Lain. He is a Type Four on the mental illness scale of 1-5. As such he is barred from most job opportunities and is constantly looked down upon and mistreated by those around him. The reason for his condition is that as a young boy he was kidnapped and tortured for months. Steven is a good character, I found him funny and relatable and there were times when his interactions with Lain tugged at my heart strings.
  • Swan: Director of IFEN and Lain’s father figure after her biological father died, as well as the book’s main antagonist. I like the fact that he never succumbed to the stereotypical villain role, all the things he does are motivated by a genuine desire to help people, and he almost never lets his temper make him irrational. However I profoundly agree with Lain that what he does in the name of the greater good, is heinous.

There are a few supporting characters such as Ian, one of Lain’s fellow Mindwalkers; Greta, her housekeeper, and Chloe, her holographic cat. They all play their parts well. Ian and Lain have a particularly poignant and emotional interaction towards the end of the book that shows you just how damaging Mindwalking is. Ian had to experience the memories of multiple sexual assault victims before he could erase them. This would break anyone.

In final summary, Mindwalker is a very polished title, well worth the asking price; one which I hope will grow into an expanded series. I am dying to know what happened before the story; what really happened in the war against the Blackcoats. What else have the people been made to forget?

 

Damilare is a student of British International School, Lagos, Nigeria

 

©Damilare Williams-Shires 2015

The YA market and how bloggers can make a change

The YA market has grown considerably in the last few years. Some say it’s because of the Harry Potter effect; with the original readers of the series becoming enthusiastic book lovers who  then wanted books suited for their ages.  The bookshops then gave much more space to YA and some great authors were discovered and published.  The books spawned series and the series spawned film and TV adaptations, and the YA  book world exploded.  This is thrilling and I wish when I was a teenager I had this choice of books.  Years ago children’s books were published for kids up to the age of 9 and then you were expected to read the classics or nothing until you felt it was the right time to enter the  Adult department of a bookshop or library.

Bloggers are a key part of the YA world.  The enthusiasm and knowledge they share is crucial to the life of the book.  The hardest thing to do is to market books to teens: as publishers, we don’t inhabit the same world, and we would be seen as patronising if we tried to.  This is the first time when this age group actively buys their own books and so they want advice from the (a) the same age group and/or (b) bloggers they admire and trust.  The really good booksellers are either actively blogging themselves or taking notice of what is going on and buying in the books on that recommendation.  It is what we used to term ‘word of mouth’, but now carried out on a quick and efficient medium.

Illuminae has been really successful for this reason.  The bloggers have loved it and very importantly they have had a lot of interaction with Amie and Jay–the authors–on social media.  Authors need to be out there too, getting their books known and read and creating fans for the future.

 

–Kate Beal, Head of Sales

Carina Olsen’s Love for Illuminae

My name is Carina and I blog at Carina’s Books. I’m twenty two years old, and I live in Norway. I don’t have any bookstores to buy from, so I buy all my books online. I own a lot. I just cannot stop buying pretty books. I read mostly YA, but I also adore some MG books. My favorite genre to read is Fantasy, and I cherish those books. I have so many favorite books, including everything by Jay Kristoff. All-time favorite book is Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore; those books are just the best. I also very much adore the His Dark Materials trilogy. I love reading the very most. And I have met so many amazing people doing so.

 

Carina's ARC collection
Carina’s ARC collection

 

I knew I had to read Illuminae the moment I heard about it, which was many months ago. And then the authors shared about different ARCs coming out. I emailed the US publisher at once, and was told I could get a copy in a few months, which made me sad, but then in May I got a surprise package in the mail: the special paperback US ARC edition of Illuminae. It was the sweetest thing anyone have done for me; and I cannot thank Becky enough for it. I read it right away. And loved it so much.

And then there was news about another ARC copy; a special US hardcover edition. I had to own it. I just had to. I was lucky enough that my friend Andye in the US was able to get an extra copy for me at BEA. I got it in June and it was the most gorgeous thing. The same week I was sent the first US paperback edition from the publisher, and so I have two copies of it. Aisha is the very best. They are stunning. A few weeks after that I learned about the UK ARC version. And I knew I had to have it, no matter what. I emailed the publisher and asked if there was any chance they could send one to me in Norway, and Cailin was so kind to do so. It arrived in August, and it is so gorgeous. I love it lots.

And so my collection ended up being four ARCs so far. In September I remembered the precious ARC box that I had seen Jay getting. And I wanted it. Badly. And so I emailed Aisha to beg for it, to see if she might send it to me. And she did. It was the kindest because this box is gorgeous. And so I had five ARCs. Two US paperbacks. Two US hardcovers. One UK paperback. I’m missing the AUS ARC version, and that breaks my heart. But it isn’t possible to get it, since they printed so few.

I adored Illuminae so much. And I love my collection to pieces. My favorite of all the ARCs is the US hardcover edition, which is just all kinds of precious. But I love them all the same, I think. Because they are all stunning. I also cannot wait to add finished copies to my collection. I have pre-ordered three hardcovers, one of which will be signed. Also one audiobook, one UK paperback and one AUS paperback. I cannot wait to see them all, and add them to my collection 🙂

 

Read Carina’s review of Illuminae on her blog