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REVIEW: Open Minds by Susan Quinn

Dear Ms. Quinn,

I keep meaning to try more self-published books, but I admit I get overwhelmed by sheer amount available. There’s so much out there that I just don’t know where to start. I have no idea how January does it. But when you offered your novel up for review, the premise and excerpt caught my interest and I decided to give it a try. For my first foray into the world self-published YA novels, this was a good place to start.

Open Minds	Susan QuinnIn a future where everyone is telepathic, Kira is a zero — someone who can’t read other people’s minds and someone whom other telepaths can’t read. Obviously, this makes her an outcast. Now not all hope is lost. She could simply be a late-bloomer but the days pass without Kira changing, she’s coming to accept the fact she may spend the rest of her life as a zero.

Zeroes have a hard lot in society. Very few people trust them. After all, how can you trust someone you can’t read? What’s more, Kira has to kiss any chances of her relationship with best friend, Raf, changing into something more goodbye.

Then one day a mishap lands her in the lap of a high school senior named Simon. Literally. As a result, Kira learns the truth. She’s not a zero at all. She’s something else entirely: a mindjacker — someone who’s capable of controlling other people with her mind.

I enjoyed this book a greal deal. The plot was packed full of action and kept moving. It didn’t take the route of girl meets boy, falls in love at first sight, and holds hands with him for the rest of the book. There’s plenty of stories like that out there already, and I’m definitely up for something different.

I liked that Kira wasn’t solely focused on one guy. It’s obvious that she really has feelings for Raf but she feels like circumstances make it impossible to be with him, to even take that chance and see if he’d like to be something more. First, she’s a zero while he’s the reigning high school soccer god. Then, she’s a mindjacker who has to keep that fact a secret. Three generations ago, the first readers were rounded up into camps when the trait started showing up in the general populace. It’s not unreasonable to think they’d do the same thing to mindjackers, who appear to be a mutation of the original reader gene.

Kira’s conflict with Simon is genuine. She has feelings for Raf but feel like she can’t be with him. So here comes Simon, who knows what she is and can teach her how to use her gift. He’s a senior and he seems to like her, which can be flattering for a girl who up until now was a zero, considered invisible by everyone around her.

That said, a part of me wishes there were more interactions with Raf after Kira realized she was a mindjacker. And when I say that, I mean interactions that did not involve Raf being jealous of Kira’s relationship with Simon. They were best friends, after all.

Overall, I think the portrayal of the world was the best part. It’s kind of creepy to imagine a place where you could read anyone’s mind, provided you were within distance. The thought of completely silent classrooms because teachers would plug the lessons directly into students’ minds makes me shudder just a little bit. Plus, there’d be no secrets and gossip would spread even faster, supported with mental visuals from witnesses.

I think this book is a good choice for readers who want a YA novel filled with action and focuses less on introspection and tortured relationship. It is a science fiction novel versus a paranormal, but we still could have gone that way easily. It didn’t though, so readers wanting a change of pace may want to give this a try. B

My regards,
Jia

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Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!

8 Comments

  1. Darlynne
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 15:22:13

    Yours isn’t the first positive review I’ve read, so something worthwhile appears to be happening in this book. I’m intrigued and appreciate the link that lets me pick it up right away.

  2. Lilian Darcy
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 20:42:37

    Jia, I’m with you on the “Where do I start?” with self-pubbed books.

    The next few years are going to be interesting as readers and writers search for the best ways to find each other.

  3. eggs
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 23:12:05

    I have the same problem with deciding what to try with full length self-pubs, but I think what Shona Husk (who is NOT a self-pubber) has done with her recent free short story, Summons: A Goblin King Prequel, points the way. The freebee introduces you to her writing and the world she’s created in her full length work, The Goblin King. If you like the freebee short (which I did, immensely), then you’ll go on to buy the full length novel at full price (which I can’t, due to geo restrictions!). If you don’t like the short, then it’s cost you nothing to try the author and their world. If you do like the short, then you’re already immersed in the world when you buy the full novel.

    I think this free prequel idea is insanely good marketing and it’s a great way for self-pubbed authors to price their full length work at a ‘proper’ price, but not miss out on the marketing advantages of the kindle freebee/99center. I think most authors have large files filled with backstory that they loved but ended up culling when they worked out where their story ‘really started’. The freebee prequel is the answer!

    Also: the book reviewed here, Open Minds, sounds really interesting and I’m off to buy it!

  4. eggs
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 23:15:43

    Following up to myself. Open Minds was only $2.99 on the kindle for Australians, which I think is a good price point for a quality self-pub, which I’m assuming it is based on Jia’s review.

  5. Annalise
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 04:36:20

    @eggs: I think most authors have large files filled with backstory that they loved but ended up culling when they worked out where their story ‘really started’.

    And it was culled for a reason. ‘Here’s the garbage that wasn’t good enough to survive editing of the book’ isn’t a good introduction to a new author. The first impression should be your very best work, not what ended up on the cutting room floor.

  6. Helen
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 13:32:12

    So many good self-pubs particularly in YA.
    Some you could start with-
    Any Amanda Hocking
    Red by Kait Nolan
    Eden by Keary Taylor (don’t read her others though, they are not nearly as well written)
    Lure by Stephanie Jenkins

  7. eggs
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 16:22:47

    @Annalise, I think I have to disagree with you. Why do you assume that backstory is “garbage”? Just because something doesn’t fit with a particular story an author wants to tell in a particular book doesn’t automatically make it garbage. The example I gave wasn’t garbage, but it certainly was backstory.

  8. Susan Kaye Quinn
    Feb 19, 2012 @ 11:33:31

    @Jia I’m just now stumbling on your lovely review of Open Minds – thank you for that! How interesting that @eggs mentioned doing a prequel story, as I just released a short prequel to Open Minds call Mind Games (part of the In His Eyes Anthology)! It’s from Raf’s POV and has more Raf&Kira interaction, so I thought you might enjoy it (it’s free at smashwords). Thanks again for the detailed and wonderful review!

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