Wednesday 4 March 2015
Mind Games by Teri Terry
review by Maryom
In a future dystopian world, everyone spends most of their time hooked up to Realtime - a virtual world created by PareCo. A special implant allows them 24/7 instant access, and it's not used just for game or role playing but for everyday life - everything from school lessons to hanging out with friends takes place there. Luna is one of the very few who react badly to the implant and, as such, she's excluded from a lot of things that her friends consider 'normal'. It's more than a little odd then that Luna is one of an elite group picked to join PareCo's think tank. What is so special about her that she'd be selected? Surely PareCo cannot see her as a threat?
At their top secret island base, Luna discovers the evil hiding behind the public face of PareCo - but can she, with her unusual abilities, expose the truth?
We've all heard of the dangers of spending too much time on games consoles or the internet - well, Teri Terry takes this a step further. The virtual Realtime world has almost replaced the physical world - certainly there are restrictions, with limited use for young children, and advised amount of 'downtime' - but, with life-support to take care of bodily functions, for most there's no need or desire to unplug; people make friends in Realtime, go on dates there, even have virtual sex rather than physical. Luna, as an outsider, notices the problems of such dependency - for instance, her dad's job means he spends more time away in the virtual world than present with his family - and there's a lot of food for thought among her observations, but it doesn't detract from the story-line.
The story falls into two sections - at first in the everyday world of home and school, setting the scene and building this dystopian society, then moving on to the behind-the-scenes insiders' view of PareCo's activities, discovering their shocking manipulation of both users and developers of the virtual world. The things Luna uncovers are chilling in the extreme!
In Mind Games, Teri Terry has created another thought-provoking but gripping thriller - the world-building lured me in, the mystery surrounding PareCo's activities hooked me, and the threat from them to Luna and her friends kept me reading till late at night. Luna herself is a courageous young heroine, facing dangers in both the real and virtual worlds, but determined to set things right and expose evil; someone to sympathise with and root for.
It's very much a book that once started, you won't want to put down - a bit like the virtual world of Realtime!
Oh, and I loved how among PareCo's virtual gaming worlds the author built in a 'plug' for her previous series Slated!
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Orchard Books
Genre - teen, dystopian thriller
If you're looking for more thrillers built around the world of gaming try, for teens, Erebos by Ursula Poznanski or, for adults, Game by Anders de la Motte