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PsP Week, Day Three: Book Review of Minder by Kate Kaynak and Giveaway Contest

December 14, 2010

Ganzfield #1

Publishers: Spencer Hill Press

Publication Date: June 18, 2010

Format: PDF

Status: First in the Ganzfield Series. The second book, Adversary, was also published this year. According to Goodreads, there will be at least seven books in the series. Adversary will be followed by Legacy, Accused, Operative, Soulmate and Solitary.

Source: Kate contacted me when the announcement went out for PsP Week because her series fits the bill.

Genre: Teen, Paranormal

Location: Briefly, New Jersey. Most of the action takes place in New Hampshire.

Other Info: Bio, cribbed from Kate’s Ganzfield website:

I was born and raised in New Jersey, but I was able to escape. My degree from Yale says I was a psych major, but my true course of study was YPMB.

After serving a five-year sentence in graduate school, I started teaching psychology around the world for the University of Maryland.

While in Izmir, Turkey, I started up a conversation with a handsome stranger in an airport.  I ended up marrying him.

We now live in New Hampshire with our three preschool-aged kids, where I enjoy reading, writing, and fighting crime with my amazing superpowers.

Other goodies:

Description (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it’s not exactly a nurturing place.

Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.

A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.

And people’s nightmares don’t always stay in their own heads. But it’s still better than New Jersey. Especially once she meets the man of her dreams…

Minder is certainly a Private School Paranormal. At least, it doesn’t get much more paranormal than a bunch of teenagers with abilities ranging from telepathy to telekinesis to mind control. The title refers to the main character, Maddie. The story opens with Maddie discovering her telepathic abilities in the worst way possible. When she’s attacked by some schoolmates, her powers manifest, allowing her to protect herself, but resulting in the death of her attackers. Maddie is soon whisked away to Ganzfield Academy, where she learns that she isn’t alone in having special powers.

I started this novel in high spirits. After all, this is a genre I enjoy, or I wouldn’t have dedicated a week’s worth of events to it. And I truly feel awful because the author contacted me personally and offered me a copy for review. I’ve waffled back and forth about this situation and decided that I have to be honest. Minder was not the book for me. My issues with it were threefold: One, Maddie. Two, everything seems too easy. Three, Maddie and Trevor.

I’m going to start with number two, even though it’s out of order. I mentioned that Maddie gets whisked away to Ganzfield, yes? Well, whisked is the right word. No sooner has Maddie learned that she’s telepathic than she’s getting an injection of some drug that will enhance her powers. Yet, conveniently, it doesn’t bother Maddie that she can hear everyone’s thoughts all the time. She can tune them out. Also, at Ganzfield, Maddie discovers that the “charms” rule the school. Charms can convince people to do whatever they want them to do, or believe whatever they want them to believe. When Maddie endeavors to save the rest of the school from the charms, she does. Pretty easily. Without much effort.

Which brings me to reason number one: Maddie. Maddie’s powers in particular irritated me. Due to the injection of the drug that amplified her power, she’s become a very strong telepath. She can read almost anyone’s mind, can suggest thoughts to people and can cause pain through the mind, too. I felt that Maddie was curiously unethical about her powers. Never once does she reflect on how she would feel if someone could read her thoughts. Thoughts are a very private thing and it’s either unrealistic or unlikeable that Maddie fails to understand how uncomfortable being around her would be. The friends that Maddie makes at Ganzfield are the students who don’t have a problem with her listening in on their thoughts. She also uses her telepathic abilities to pull answers from teachers’ heads. As a teacher myself, I see this as wrong and, what’s more, lazy. I can only hope that the later books in the series address the ethical issues of Maddie’s telepathic abilities, from planting thoughts in other peoples’ brains to a person’s right to the privacy of his/her own thoughts.

Issue number three, Maddie and her instantboyfriend, Trevor. My main complaint with Maddie and Trevor’s relationship has to do with that familiar issue of easiness. Maddie and Trevor hardly meet but they’re in love. But, wait, you say. They’re soulmates. Okay. I’ve read and enjoyed soulmate stories before. But the speed with which Maddie and Trevor go from A to Z irritated me. I’ll buy instant attraction, but I guess I just like a relationship that has a bit more up and down. Think Kate Daniels and Curran, not Bella and Edward. I also think the relationship loses a lot because we always know what Trevor is thinking, courtesy of Maddie’s telepathy.

My final issue–and really, I’m going to stop–was that the administration/faculty at Ganzfield sucked. For one thing, Trevor moves objects telekinetically in his sleep. Instead of giving him a cabin on his own like they have the minders, Trevor has been sleeping in an old, unheated, abandoned church. I mean, seriously? And no one cares? And no one notices/cares when Maddie starts sleeping in the church with Trevor? Um, I went to a high school with a boarding program. They’re strict about the opposite-sex thing. They have to be. I don’t buy that that would be different because of the paranormal aspect of Ganzfield. I’d also like to gripe a bit about the issue of the charms doing awful, terrible, no good, very bad things to other students. Like, forcing them to perform certain actions against their will. The faculty should have had a lid on it already. Since they didn’t, they shouldn’t be teaching. End of story. I say that as a teacher myself.

There’s no getting around that this is a harsh review, but I hope it isn’t unreasonable. Readers should know that Minder has gotten good reviews on Goodreads and that this is only one blogger’s opinion. Kate Kaynak is to be commended for the fact that she is a published writer and she has put her work out into the world. I wish her the best of luck with the rest of the series.

Contest Rules:

  • This contest begins today (Tues., Dec. 14) and ends on Saturday, December 18, at 11:59.
  • This contest is open internationally, though international winners will receive an unsigned copy of Minder.
  • In order to enter the contest, you must submit the name of a book featuring a telepathic heroine.
  • +1 point if you subscribe to my blog.
  • +1 point if you’re already a subscriber.
  • Please include your name and your email in your comment, so I can contact you if you win.
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Moridin permalink
    December 14, 2010 9:19 pm

    Sookie Stackhouse from Charlaine Harris’s Dead Until Dark is telepathic.

  2. December 15, 2010 3:05 am

    Sookie Stackhouse from the True Blood Books By Charlaine Harris.

  3. December 15, 2010 3:06 am

    I subscribed to your blog.

  4. December 15, 2010 5:27 am

    Hi Ruby,

    So sorry it didn’t appeal! Don’t worry–I can take it! 🙂

    Take care!

  5. December 15, 2010 6:47 pm

    Melissa from the Midnighters trilogy, by Scott Westerfeld, is telepathic. 😀
    Please enter me!
    +1 subscribe to blog

    kayla3194 at gmail dot com

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