Genre: Sci-Fi, YA
Publication date: January 30th 2014
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.