Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Minders by Michele Jaffe

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Review: Minders by Michele Jaffe
Michele Jaffe
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA
Publication date: January 30th 2014
by Razorbill

Q: If the boy you love commits a crime, would you turn him in?
Sadie Ames is a type-A teenager from the wealthy suburbs. She's been accepted to the prestigious Mind Corps Fellowship program, where she'll spend six weeks as an observer inside the head of Ford, a troubled boy with a passion for the crumbling architecture of the inner city. There's just one problem: Sadie's fallen in love with him.

Q: What if the crime is murder?
Ford Winters is haunted by the murder of his older brother, James. As Sadie falls deeper into his world, dazzled by the shimmering pinpricks of color that form images in his mind, she begins to think she knows him. Then Ford does something unthinkable.

Q: What if you saw it happen from inside his mind?
Back in her own body, Sadie is faced with the ultimate dilemma. With Ford's life in her hands, she must decide what is right and what is wrong. And how well she can really ever know someone, even someone she loves.
-A copy was provided by Penguin Canada for review-

Minders is a futuristic story about a new science that allows a person to piggyback on someone else’s mind. During what’s called Syncopy, minders see what their host sees, read their thoughts, feel their pleasure and pain, however they can’t control anything, and their host don’t know they’re being watched.

I was quite surprised by the depth of this story. For the most part, it comes off as a contemporary novel inside a sci-fi bubble. We’re literally thrown inside Ford’s mind; someone hurt, broken, and deeply troubled by grief. It’s saddening to see his family crumbling from his brother’s murder. With a now useless mother, Ford is the one who has to raise his sister and put food on the table. He’s also starting to realize there’s more to his brother’s death than he thought. This gives us an intriguing mystery that ultimately ties everything together, with a few twists and turns along the way.

Being in someone’s head gives us a character angle like no other. Jaffe’s depiction of the mind itself is incredible and fascinating. Our subconscious, our thoughts and ways of compartmentalizing, our external vs internal selves; it’s impressively creative. It also allows us to learn a lot about Ford; we get to know his most honest, raw self. He has a gentle, sweet soul. He’s also very much a 19 year old boy when it comes to relationships and insecurities. I came to love his character even though he isn’t perfect by any means. I can’t say the same about Sadie’s, though. her character building left a lot to be desired. At one point she describes a past with uncaring parents in a way that seemed as if it was just to make her three-dimensional. I never felt the emotional depth of her character, nor did I feel connected to her overall. Fortunately, this is Ford’s story while she comes off as a side character, but unfortunately, it also makes the romance that blooms between them feel forced. Although it was very original, as far as romantic storylines go. Furthermore, there are some side character that I felt unnecessary to the story. Cali and Marcus, for instance, were like peons drifting in and out without aim or purpose.

Moving on to the plot itself. While it can be described as original and in many ways, compelling, I found myself underwhelmed, even confused at times, with the world building. Or I should say the lack thereof. We’re thrown into a world that is clearly not in our present, but we don’t know when, futuristically, it’s set, how the city fell apart to such a degree, how the world is doing. Nothing. All we’re told is of this city’s crumbling appearance, the Minders scientific advancement, and irrelevant eccentricities like streets named “Love Your Feet Road” and “H3O Purified Water-Style Beverage Way“. I mean, you can’t just mention those streets and not explain! As a result, this makes it just Ford’s story and nothing more. It doesn’t expand beyond the direct mysteries surrounding him and Mind Corps – probably to keep it a stand-alone (which is nice!). So it’s an entertaining plot, but kept fairly narrow. Much of the ending is also predictable, if a bit rushed, though luckily I found this book was more about the journey than its destination.

Minders brings us a neat sci-fi concept that delves into the heart of grief and guilt. I enjoyed many aspects of this book, but I felt as if the story was sometimes let loose to wander. I would recommend this to fans of Starters and The Host.

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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21 Responses to “Review: Minders by Michele Jaffe”

  1. Kate @ Midnight Book Girl

    Hmm, I don’t know that I’ll rush out and buy this book, but I’ll definitely pick it up for a read if I come across it! I’ve definitely enjoyed more sci-fi YA books this past year or two than I ever would have imagined!

  2. JennRenee

    Great review. Sounds like a little bit sci-fi and a lot realistic fiction. Both Genres i love. I can see how the lack of world buidling in a futuristic sci fi dystopian type book can take away from the story. Part of the intrique is how it all happened to get the world to the point its in.

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    That’s such a shame about the world-building. I’m seeing a lot of these confusing plot lines and lack of world-building in many 2014 debuts.
    The characters does seem quite interesting though and I like the sound of the main character. He sounds intense.
    Lovely review, Giselle. I might just get a copy of this from the library.

  4. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Holy cow, I seriously wouldn’t want to have someone sharing my thoughts/feelings. Um. No. And now I’m curious about the street names. Are they slogans? Is that instead of product names? I WANT TO KNOW!

  5. Bethzaida

    The idea behind the book sounds really cool. I don’t know if I would enjoy it, though. The Sci-Fi genre and I are not BBFs. I’ve tried the genre before but I rarely enjoy it. Great review girl!

  6. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    Ooh the characterization sounds great. I’ve always been really fascinated by the mind and I love when you can really embody yourself in another character and really feel what they’re feeling because it’s always interesting. I’m sorry the plot was underwhelming though. I’m a huge plot and logic-riented person so I can see why you were disappointed in the world building. I’d probably also be confused, but fantastic reciew, Giselle! <33

  7. Stephanie

    This cover is crazy and the concept is very interesting. I am glad there were elements you enjoyed but I can also see where it might be confusing. Thanks for this review, I had not heard of this book.

  8. fishgirl182 @ nite lite

    This sounds like a pretty interesting concept. That sucks that the world building is not as good as it could have been. I don’t like info dumps in books but I also don’t like it when they give us very little info to go on either. Is this a series? If it is, maybe we’ll get to know more about the world in the next book.

  9. Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    I liked The Host and Starters, I’ll have to keep this one in mind. Sounds like it would great if the world itself was done a little different. Great review. I’m glad that you did still enjoy it for the most part.

  10. D. @ The Nerdy Journalist

    The cover is awesome, and the premise is really intriguing. I’ll definitely add this to my to-read list, but it’s not a book that I’ll be tripping over my own feet to rush to the bookstore to get.
    I just finished Allegiant, and it sucked the life out of me. I need to take a break from sci-fi for a little while and pick up some contemporaries.

  11. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    I just read the synopsis and it sounded really good! However I don’t like books that lack world building, it would also suck for the story to start wandering! I’m reading this book called Grasshopper Jungle and I feel like the MC babbles along too much. But the characterization here seems spot on!

    Brilliant review, Giselle! <33

  12. A Canadian Girl

    The concept about this one seems interesting. The ability of the reader to really get into Ford’s head sounds pretty unique. It’s too bad though that the worldbuilding isn’t better explained as that is something I always need to be done well in a sci-fi (or dystopian) novel.

  13. Melliane

    too bad for the predictable end, I love the sound of this one though. I don’t think I ever read something like that and being in another mind sounds really intriguing. Mainly as it allows us to know more about other characters like that.

  14. Faye @ The Social Potato

    Awww, I feel a wee bit conflicted about this. If it’s dystopia or futuristic or a world/society not of our own, there are two important aspects that need to be highlighted: characters AND, equally, world-building. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy reading it otherwise because my brain just can’t accept these new changes as “facts” without knowing why. Then again, perhaps that’s just my being an overthinker LOL.

    Lovely review Giselle! 😀

  15. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    WOW! Thanks so much for your review and bringing this book to my attention, it sounds truly awesome like something that is up my alley. I just love the sound of Syncophy and how creepy and surreal that would be! Thanks for the warning about the world building though. Lovely review Giselle!