Author: Kate Kaynak
Publisher: Spencer Hill
Release Date: June 18th, 2010
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...
What would you do if you found out you have special abilities not unlike those you see in sci-fi movies? Maddie Dunn never thought she was particularly special, but she finds out otherwise when she's assaulted by two teenage boys and, to defend herself, she unknowingly kills them using her dormant telepathic abilities. Finding her way to Ganzfield, a secret training facility for special teenagers, Maddie tries to manage her new-found powers while adjusting to her new boarding school and falling for the boy of her dreams in this novel where X-Men meets Mean Girls.
I was pleasantly surprised by Minder- I had a feeling I'd like it, but I didn't know it'd have me as hooked as I am now! It's a great YA paranormal that borders sci-fi, and it sets up a steady foundation for a series that I have a very strong feeling I'll love. There are a number of things I like about it, but let me start off with the premise.
The story of Minder isn't hard to believe at all. In fact, while reading it, I could totally imagine a place like Ganzfield somewhere- Kaynak creates a world so realistic and believable in her novel, the idea of special abilities like telepathy seems almost tangible to the reader. Everything is so well-explained in the novel, it almost seems researched, though it's entirely fictional!
Another thing I really liked about the story is that it tackles the omnipresent issue of bullying, but with a special Ganzfield twist- in the story the bullies use their special abilities to manipulate the other students. The gist is there, but it's made a lot more fun and interesting with the involvement of powers.
I also enjoyed Kaynak's take on the special abilities, or mutations. She presents categories in the novel, and I love that it's organized, yet still creative. There's also a (fictional) scientific explanation behind everything, which makes it all the more palpable and amplifies the coolness by about a hundred.
However, as much as I liked all those things, I was not crazy about the relationship between Maddie and Trevor. Their whirlwind romance was, well, a little too whirlwind for me, and I felt that things happened too fast. If their romance took place over a longer span of time, then their relationship would have been ideal, but with the given time frame things feel a little rushed, to the point that I didn't enjoy the romantic aspect as much as I could have.
That tiny nitpick aside, Minder is a compelling start to a new series that is sure to be loved by many. It's fun, action-packed and well-thought-out; it's a YA novel that's relevant to this day and age. It paves the way for the second installment in the series nicely, and I honestly cannot wait to see what happens next.