Sunday, December 2, 2018

Review: Mindwar by Andrew Klavan

Author: Andrew Klavan
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date of publication: July 2014

Rick Dial has the potential to be a hero. He just doesn't know it yet.

Rick's high school football team couldn't be stopped when he was leading them as their quarterback. He was going to Syracuse on a scholarship. But then his dad abandoned them and a terrible accident left him crippled.

Certain his old life is completely lost, Rick spends months hiding away in his room playing video games. He achieves the highest scores on so many games that he's approached by a government agency who claims to be trying to thwart a cyber attack on America that would destroy the technological infrastructure of the entire country. The agents say that the quick-thinking of a quarterback coupled with Nick's gaming experience make him perfect for this assignment. The problem is that there are no extra lives and this isn't just a game . . . but Rick doesn't have many other options at the moment.

Entering "The Realm" gives Rick the one thing he thought he'd never have again: a body that's as fast and as strong as he ever was before the accident. But the more time he spends in The Realm, the more questions he has. What secrets are these agents keeping from him? What really happened to his father? How many others have gone into The Realm already . . . and failed? And perhaps most important, is he the hero they think he is?

In Mindwar, Rick, who has seen his life take a turn when he is injured in a car accident, ending his chances of playing football in college.  His father has left the family and the bills are piling up.  Drowning in pity, he spends the summer playing video games.  His high scores cause him to come up on the radar of a a secret government agency.  He is recruited to try to stop an evil man bent on destroying the US.  

I find myself having a hard time deciding what I thought about the book.  On one hand, I thought it was a decent and fun sci-fi adventure story with a good YA male lead.  We need more of those in YA literature.  I liked Rick.  His struggle to cope with this new future after the accident came across as genuine.  I also liked how he made the conscious effort not to be a jerk to his little brother.  He clearly recognized that the kid looked up to him and didn't want to make him upset.  He also struggled to find the confidence within himself to believe he could be a hero.

The thing that I am so-so on was the Realm.  I'm not sure I completely understood how it was structured and why it was set up like a fantasy video game. If you were an evil mastermind intent on destroying the US using your mind, why make it like a video game?  I also was unclear on who the two helpers were that appeared in the realm.  Were they other users who were lost?  Or were they just computer creations?  I wasn't a fan of Rick beginning to fall for the female helper in the game when he hadn't yet resolved things with is real life girlfriend, Molly.  That part could have been left out.

There are some subtle Christian undertones in the book.  But they in no way overpower the story and aren't too preachy.  I would recommend this one to YA fantasy or sci-fi fans.

1 comment:

Ethan said...

This one sounds similar to Ready Player One in some aspects. I really liked that one, but I can understand your mixed reaction to this one.