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5 Stars Out Of 5
December 7, 2014
MindWar, by Andrew Klavan, tells the story of Rick Dial, a high school football hero whose dreams of playing college ball were shattered when a tragic accident left him with painful debilitating leg injuries, necessitating the daily use of crutches. When the story begins, we find Rick in a deep depression. He'd wrapped his whole identity into playing football, and without it he feels useless and angry. Coupled with the pain and betrayal of having had his father walk out on their family as well, he is disillusioned. He has spent the past six months in his room, losing himself in video games. He has essentially given up on life, and is avoiding contact with nearly everyone, including his faithful girlfriend, who sends him email after email that goes unread.
When an initially terrifying encounter with a couple of strangers turns into an offer to use his gaming skills to complete a dangerous, top-secret mission involving a virtual world (that could potentially have devastating effects on the real world), Rick readily accepts the opportunity. He subsequently finds his time in "The Realm" to be both illuminating and healing, as well as a powerful reminder of what it means - and doesn't mean - to be strong, in both body and spirit.
MindWar was a fast-paced, and action-packed read. Combining elements of mystery, thriller, and sci-fi, it takes the reader on a thrill-ride (complete with the requisite twists and turns) from start to finish. Klavan is an excellent story teller. The characters are likable and sympathetic, and I found myself rooting for Rick and his family right from the beginning pages, even as he was sitting in his room still feeling sorry for himself. Klavan also wove some important messages of love, forgiveness, and personal responsibility throughout the story, without being too heavy-handed with the "religious-speak" (a personal pet-peeve of mine.)
On a personal note: As someone who has been dealing with an injury, chronic pain, and recovery from two surgeries in the past 2 1/2 years, I especially connected with the elements of Rick's injuries and recovery, and the reminder that being strong sometimes means not being pain-free, but being brave and positive and moving on despite the pain.
This was a great read that would be of particular interest to young adults who are interested in gaming/virtual worlds, or to any teen or adult that just appreciates a good story.
*I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*
Rick Dial's life is over. His dad has run off with an old college girlfriend. He'll never play football again thanks to an accident that ruined his legs and his life.
The last few months he's been living in his bedroom. And not really even living more like existing. All that he is and does revolves around video games.
Everything is about to change, and it could cost Rick his life...
But he could save the world...
Rick's mind could turn him into the hero he always wanted to be. War is coming, but it is about to be waged on a new front - a virtual front - and few people have the ability to survive within the Realm.
But Rick's recent obsession with gaming has uniquely prepared him for a mission into the Realm. But to die within the Realm means to die outside it as well. There are dangers that can't be prepared for within this virtual world - a world that is the creation of genius who has placed himself on the same level as the Creator.
With time running out, Rick is the government's only chance of stopping this first major attack. The possibility of never leaving the Realm is all to real. But is Rick ready for his life to truly be over? Or is this the very thing he needs to rediscover his life and his faith?
I'm looking forward to book 2 in this series, which in my opinion makes this book a game winner!
Mindwar is an exciting and suspenseful series debut that will keep up into early hours. I think this book would be suitable for Tween, Teen, and Adult readers who love their reading to be suspense-filled! I think fans of Stephen Lawhead's Bright Empires series, Robin Parrish's Offworld, and Ted Dekker's Circle series will appreciate this book/series.
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher through the BookLook blogger program in exchange for my honest review
There are two things that immediately occurred to me as I started reading this book. One, the main character is a teen boy and there are very few books I've read from a guy's perspective. I really liked it. Two, this book is the first of a trilogy and I want to read the entire series. I'm also into video games even though I'm a casual gamer and I've never set any records, I play because it's fun or I return the game. Even though you don't have to appreciate video games to enjoy this book, I do believe you should have a tiny interest in them or this book may not have the same affect on you as the reader.
Rick is a special teen. He loves his family dearly and he once had faith in God, but he's had a rough time lately and everything he knows has changed. First his dad left their family with only a note explaining his absence. Then he gets in a car accident that paralyzes his legs. Now he sits in his room all day avoiding his kid brother, Raider, who adores everything about him despite his moodiness and his mom mopes around the house quietly watching him, with gentle suggestions about going outside for fresh air and shaving once in a while. Rick, who was once the star football player in high school, is no longer interested in sports, in talking to his girlfriend who is also an athlete going to college on a scholarship, or in forgiving his dad.
One day, he finally goes out for a brief walk instead of yelling at his adorable kid brother and he literally runs into Ms. Ferris and Juliet Seven (am I even allowed to mention their names?? This is SOOOOOOO top secret) and life as he knows it is forever changed once again. Little does he know that the offer he gets from the MindWar Project will lead him to self-discovery and strength he didn't know he had. Is Rick really the hero they say he is or will he fail this too?
This is my first time reading Klavan, but wow did I enjoy it! It's easy to read in one sitting, the chapters are short for those of us who only like to take breaks when finishing a chapter, and even though it's a thriller, it's also got LOTS of heart in it. One other thing, the characters in this story NEED faith in order to survive both physically and emotionally. Without faith, the characters are in danger of becoming evil corrupt, obsessed, paranoid, lost, and danger of losing hope. That may not sound bad, but when you're in a desperate situation trying to save the world and everyone you love, faith is the most important thing you can have.
There are two settings in this book. Real life, RL, and the Realm. The Realm is the computer/mad man's imagination/video game/controlled by evil/guarded by evil/the only place to find answers to stop the bad guy and shut him down. I really loved the Realm despite the danger it presented! It's so beautiful, Rick is able to use his legs (think Avatar) and he finds his faith while inside the Realm!! I found it interesting that the government trained soldiers and their finest to make it in the Realm and none of them could complete it successfully. However, an 18 year old kid who has been playing video games for 4 months nonstop has what it takes to get the job done.
There ARE monsters in this book that are tangible and creepy, but there's also good in this book that is equally tangible (I considered both sides rightly balanced). I didn't consider anything in the story to be graphic or horrific, but my heart did beat faster as I read what happened to Rick. The second time he goes into the Realm, he stays too long accidentally and briefly loses his mind. That had me nervous for his sake. There is one character who becomes demonic in the Realm, but he's a terrorist/assassin in RL so what he becomes in the Realm suits him.
Character I liked least in this one_..Commander Jonathan Mars. The only thing I like about this guy is his last name. He's one of the good guys and is in charge of MindWar, but he is not a nice man. At one point, he threatens Rick's loved one. So when Mars has one last conversation with Rick, he makes it clear to the Commander that he understands the man is a patriot, but that if he ever threatens Rick's family again he will beat him to death. After all Rick has been through, it's a threat he will definitely follow through with!
I truly enjoyed Favian and Mariel in this book. I have an idea of who they are, but I'll have to wait for the next book to figure that out because this one doesn't explain them. They help save Rick's life several times and they are his companions in the Realm.
This was one of the best things about the book for me. Each section are named referencing video games, SOOOOOO clever!!!
On the Scarlet Plain
*lastly* Boss Level (and it REALLY was!!)
It was utterly amazing to me how Rick sacrifices himself for his family, for Favian and Mariel. His character does a complete transformation and it was a total pleasure reading his journey. After being bitter for months, it was beautiful how he is able to forgive and make peace. He also does some amazing stunt work in the Realm that had my eyes wide. I was rooting for him the entire time and I'm so glad how things concluded in Book 1 :) I wasn't sure I'd like this book, but I'm so glad I took a chance on it and now truly looking forward to the next book!
I want to thank BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for the review copy provided. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
I really enjoyed this book, I read it in 2 days! It was about a boy who got asked to be put into a video game to help save the world and what happens in the video game affects him in real life. Like if he gets hurt in the video game, in real life he gets hurt as well! In the end everything worked out and the world was saved.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
MindWar: A Novel by Andrew Klavan is a fascinating and creepy at the same time. The idea that our hero, Rick, is being monitored for his uncanny ability at gaming that will be used for our governments need is really scary. This story made me really think about how much of ourselves is visible by the government and how willing we are to trust them because they are working in our best interest, right? This story made me really think and I really enjoyed this new aspect to reading a thriller such as this one is for me. Rick thought his life may have ended when he had his accident, but it just began and it is going to be one heck of ride. This reminds me of the saying "where one door closes, another one opens up" and that is exactly how it has happened for Rick because he is being transported into another realm of living that he never thought existed for him and his condition. Rick, through his help, will have a life again but for whom and for what? I could not put this book down and my only recommendation is not to start the novel before bed because you will stay up too late to function normally the next day, but it is worth a sleepless night. I also cannot wait for the next two books in this trilogy because I have to know what happens next for Rick. I was given a review copy from Blogging for Books and all opinions are my own.