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Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Open Minds Blog Tour: Review, Interview, Giveaway- 5/5 Cupcakes

I'm excited to be hosting the Open Minds Blog Tour today! Below you will find my review, an author interview, and giveaway. 

TITLE: Open Minds 
SERIES: Mindjack Trilogy Book #1
AUTHOR: Susan Kaye Quinn 
PUB DATE: 11/1/11
SOURCE: From author for review
Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy Book #1)
When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.
Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.
THREE WORDS: Suspenseful. Innovative. Thought-Provoking…okay, so technically that’s four words but I added a hyphen between thought and provoking  so that makes it one word…right?!

MY “I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK” REACTION: O.M.G! I feel like I just got off the most thrilling, unpredictable, exciting, emotional roller coaster ride ever…and I wanna do it again! *jumps up and down holding out hands* More please…

MY REVIEW: What if your thoughts didn’t belong solely to you anymore? What if those thoughts could be used as a powerful weapon? What would you do?  These are just a few of the thought provoking questions Susan Kaye Quinn explores in her book Open Minds. In this book, Quinn has created a fast paced, action packed, intensely mind blowing story that gripped me tight and pulled me from one end of my imagination to the other.

Kira Moore lives in a world where the majority of the population are readers, or able to read other’s thoughts. The people of this world and time have come to depend on this mind reading so much that very few people actually talk with their voices anymore. The outcasts in this world are the zeroes, those people who can’t read minds and whose mind others can’t read. Kira is a zero…at least that’s what she thinks. As a zero, Kira is ostracized by those who were once friends, tormented by reader bullies, and cannot be with the boy she loves. Her future looks bleak until one of the school’s resident “bad boys”, Simon, shows her that she isn’t zero at all, she’s something so much more - a jacker. Able to control the minds of readers and convince the world that they too are readers, jackers are powerful and potentially dangerous people that are being hunted down and imprisoned. Kira soon finds herself in a world of complications and trouble as she must deal with a jacker Clan, the FBI, and a heartbreaking love triangle.

You’re completely intrigued by now right?! And my brief summary doesn’t even begin to touch upon the awesomeness of this book. Quinn has written a highly original, provocative and edgy book that explodes with action, captivates with its realistic characters, and leaves you unable to not wonder “what if?”.

Quinn’s world of telepathy is like no other I’ve ever come across. She has taken the well known and well used concept of the lone telepath treated as an outcast and freak among a society of “normal non-telepathic” people, and she has completely flipped it upside down, inside out and around…and brilliantly so. I really loved the fact that Quinn didn’t go the clichéd and easy route by making her main character, Kira, come across as morally superior or better than everybody else simply because she’s different. Kira doesn’t want to fight for zero rights or be different; she just wants to be like everybody else, she just wants to feel normal, and there’s such an honest realism to this desire.

The supernatural and science fiction aspects of Open Minds are fantastic, but never too farfetched as to become unbelievable. This is a world and a future that is easy to imagine. Quinn’s imagination and creativity prove to be limitless as she paints a world that is both new and hauntingly familiar. And better yet, her world activates the readers’ imagination as well, daring it to go as far as it can then double-dog daring it to go a little bit further. I, for one, was mesmerized by Quinn’s innovation and originality.

This book isn’t all supernatural and action though, it’s built on a foundation of character driven emotion. This book is told from Kira’s perspective; therefore a very intimate connection is easily forged between her and the reader. I really liked Kira as a character. Kira is smart, capable, tough, witty, and a little sassy. She’s such a realistic and relatable character with her insecurities, conflicted desires, and imperfect choices she makes. Kira grows as a character in one of the most natural, well developed progressions I’ve seen in YA in a long time. As fast paced as the book is, Kira’s development and subtle growth as a person never felt rushed or forced. And Kira’s emotional journey throughout this book is just as gripping and captivating as her supernatural one. There’s such a sensitive, heart wrenching honesty to Kira and her story that is impossible to ignore.

Quinn’s other characters are also well developed and realistic. Kira’s family-her dad, mom, and big brother-provide a much needed familiarity and comfortability to both Kira and readers. Molloy (a jacker clan leader) and FBI Agent Kestral (who is also a jacker) provide two different, yet similar antagonists. Both of these men believe that their extreme, dangerous, and potentially deadly actions are for the good of the people, and I found myself completely compelled and repulsed by both men, sometimes at the same time. Their actions and choices really had me looking at my own.

Simon and Raf (Kira’s BFF and the boy she always loved), make for two very different, but equally enthralling love interests. Simon is a very complex and layered character. There’s a dangerous, volatile vibe to him that makes Kira both wary of him and completely drawn to him. His charm and easy confidence are what pulls Kira to him initially, but the hidden and genuine depth to him is what keeps him in her heart, and what fascinated me about his character. Simon is responsible for some of the most heartbreaking and profound moments for me. The romance between Kira and Simon sizzles with excitement and heat. Raf, is quite different from Simon. Raf is caring, funny, thoughtful, patient; he’s truly and genuinely a good guy. He also knows Kira in a way that no one else does. Even without the ability to read Kira’s mind, Raf just “gets” her. Raf and Kira may not have any sizzling make out scenes, but the connection and love between these two is palpable.

The action packed twists and turns, all the way till the end, left me rapt and breathless, while Kira’s conflicted and emotional journey and development left me thoughtful. With her powerful mind controlling abilities as a jacker, Kira must decide what she’s really willing and capable of doing. She must also completely redefine her definitions of good and bad. Kira’s choices and realizations will leave your mind reeling and leave you asking yourself “Would I…Could I…What if…?”

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: This book has captured me, mind and heart. Susan Kaye Quinn has created a superbly written, captivatingly original, and breathtakingly action packed and emotionally charged story within Open Minds. I love this book and cannot wait to read more. This is an absolute MUST read!


Intereview With Susan Kaye Quinn

Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. She pursued a bunch of engineering degrees and worked a lot of geeky jobs, including turns at GE Aircraft Engines, NASA, and NCAR. Now that she writes novels, her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she don't have to sneak her notes anymore. All that engineering comes in handy when dreaming up paranormal powers in future worlds or mixing science with fantasy to conjure slightly plausible inventions. Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as much as she can handle.

Q. If you were to describe Open Minds in a tweet, using ONLY 140 characters or less, how would you describe it?
When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep-Open Minds by @susankayequinn #scifi #youngadult
Or possibly this…
What if you were forced to mindjack everyone you loved? #scifi #paranormal #youngadult Open Minds by @susankayequinn

Q. Where did the idea or inspiration for Open Minds and the Mindjack Trilogy come from?
 I was toying with a different story idea – one about a boy who was a touch empath – when I decided to enter a “1st paragraph” contest online. Rather than using a paragraph from one of my current stories, I decided to write a paragraph for a story that didn’t exist. As I was wrestling with that idea, an image of a girl sitting in a classroom of mindreaders popped into my head. Only she couldn’t read minds, and her isolation was utter and complete. I immediately wrote that scene and it later grew into the story of Open Minds. (p.s. I didn’t win the contest. :)) The idea for the rest of the trilogy came as soon as I finished Open Minds – I knew that Kira’s story was far from done.

Q.  Your characters are very realistic and well developed, especially Kira. Were any of them based on people in real life?
 Thank you! I don’t consciously try to base characters on people I know – if anything I intentionally try NOT to do that. But it happens anyway. For example, one of the characters in my first novel Life, Liberty, and Pursuit was based on my best friend from high school. I realized this AFTER I published the book, when she read it and said, “This is all about me!” I think, as writers, we can’t help but draw bits and pieces of real life into our stories. However, I don’t think any of my friends are mindreaders, zeros, or mindjackers. But I could be wrong about that. :)

Q. Did your former experience as a rocket scientist and engineer come in handy when writing about the techie (the futuristic gadgets and devices) stuff in Open Minds?
 Absolutely. It helps to have a tech background when trying to project into the future and imagine what transportation or computers or vehicles will look like. Inventing gadgets that only have to work in my story is tremendous fun! I think tech is becoming such an integral part of our lives, and I see that becoming even more true in the future. So it was a blast to play with that idea.

Q. Do you have the entire trilogy already planned out? Can you give us any snippets of what’s in store for Kira?
 I do. I even know how it ends, but don’t worry. I’ll let that be a surprise. :) If you’ve read Open Minds, you can imagine that Kira’s story doesn’t end there. Some of her fears are well-founded and will come to life in the next book, Closed Hearts. If  you haven’t read the book, let me assure you that I believe in having books with definite endings to them. I want readers to crave the next book, but I’m not a fan of cliff-hanger endings (at least at the end of novels; chapter endings are a different story).

Q. If you were a reader, who is the one person’s thoughts (alive, dead, famous, etc) you’d love to be able to read?
 JK Rowling. She has such an amazing imagination, I could get lost in her thoughts for hours.

Q. If you could escape into any fantasy, made up world from any book/movie/tv show, which would it be?
 I’ve seriously wanted to live on the Enterprise, pretty much my entire life. Probably in Engineering, but I like to think I’d make a really good Science Officer. #StarTrekGeek Especially if I could serve with Zachary Quinto, I mean, Spock. :)

Q. If Open Minds were to be made into a movie, who would be your perfect cast for your main characters?
 I am so terrible at casting. Seriously. I would trust the movie people to get that right (which would be fantastically amazing to have “movie people” bringing my book to life on the screen). But I would probably insist on someone with very dark, brooding eyes for Simon. And Kira needs to be pretty, but not so pretty that it’s ridiculous. Because she’s rugged. And Raf … okay, maybe I would want to get involved. :) I actually do use pictures to help solidify my character’s faces in my mind. But I don’t use famous people. I usually troll through pictures of no-name male models (it’s a hard life, but someone’s got to do it). I found a picture that was perfect for Raf from a Portuguese modeling agency. And the B&W picture of Simon was from some European male modeling agency, but I can’t remember which one. I just liked the chilled look in his eyes. I didn’t cast Kira because I spend most of my time in her head, looking from the inside out, not the outside in.

Q. Heroes and heroines are great, but villains are awesome! Who’s your favorite literary villain? Who do you just love to hate or hate to love?
 Ooh, good question! I love to hate Dolores Umbridge, the evil one-time headmistress of Hogwarts. She was so fantastically creepy with those cat plates on the wall and her solemn proclamations about learning-via-torture. Of course there’s Voldemort, but he simply revels in being evil. You have to hate him. But Dolores giggles her way to evildom. *chills* There’s something even more sinister about an evil character who thinks they’re righteous.

Q. What’s the one book that you think everybody should read at least once in their life?
 Now this is a hard question because there are so many. I’m tempted to reach back to my childhood, when my mind was bent by books like Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. In more contemporary books, I would have to say The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Not only do I love the book(s), but I think it is one of those brilliant pieces that captures the sentiment of an era (our reality-TV-post-911 time).

 Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog!

You are so welcome Susan! And thank you for answering my questions and giving us all a chance to get to know you and your world better!

You can learn more about and connect with Susan here:
You can purchase this book here:
Amazon   Barnes and Noble  Smashwords  Createspace (paperback)

Susan is offering one (1) ebook copy of Open Minds to one of you! To enter, simple fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
Giveaway will run from Nov. 2- Nov. 9
  • One main entry per person
  • Winner will be chosen randomly
  • Winner will be emailed and must reply within 48 hours or new winner will be chosen



Arianne said...

the blurb really made me wanna read the book :D sounds uber unique

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks Arianne! I hope you enjoy the book! And thank you to Aeicha for the wonderful review! :)

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fantastic read. Very unique I would love to read this book.

In Julie's Opinion said...

I love your no name model choices for the characters in your book! It will give me something to think about when I'm reading your book :)
jwitt33 at live dot com

Steph said...

This book sounds like it will be really awesome :) Gonna read it even if i don't win.

J.C. Martin said...

Great review! OPEN MINDS is already on my TBR pile. Susan, I wish you every success with this awesome book!

Jessica D said...

Really cool interview. I read the excerpt too and I just love the premise! :)