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 secre ...more 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...
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Paranormal, sci-fi fans tired of things that only come out after dark
High point: The promise of the story to come
Low point: The abrupt ending
Reader maturity: 15+
Minder follows a new minder named Maddie as she discovers what she truly is...and what she can become. She learns the ins and outs of the mysterious Ganzfield Academy and shows the misled charms what she's capable of, thwarting their attempts of suggestion and humiliation. Along the way, she finds a soulmate (of course!), some new friends and a dark plot to destroy her new way of life.
Minder starts out a little choppy. I was hesitant to continue because the writing made me feel like I was watching a blurry movie, but I'm glad I stuck with it. There's a [good/brilliant] reason for the uneven style of the first chapter, and once I realized that the rest of the novel would be a smoother ride, I sat back and enjoyed.
Kate Kaynak sets up a strong backstory for G-positives, with pseudo-realistic science explaining the trait and its inheritance, as well as the government testing that led to the discovery. The holes are all neatly plugged ("Why did the government let the program go?" "The charms!"), and it feels organic and reasonable ("Oh, yes, of course!").
Maddie is a strong, relatable main character--tough enough to stand up for herself but definitely confused and occasionally horrified by her new surroundings. She's the minder the everyman/woman would hope to be in her situation. Her love interest is schoolgirl-perfect, too, very sweet and understanding and mildly tragic, like the lovable puppy-eyed guy in a rom-com (and just as attractive!). The scenes depicting their "soulmating" (100% clean, I assure you) are breathtaking in their descriptions. I could see exactly what the author was describing. Pages flew by, like the hours in the novel, without me even realizing it.
For the most part, I had no feelings toward the supporting cast either way. I feel that Minder is a set-up book for this series and that some of the things left unanswered and explored (Seth! Who is Seth?!) will be delved into in later novels. What did exist of the characters, I enjoyed. The roommate and the new girl and the sparks all have potential to become interesting, three-dimensional characters. And did I mention that I want to know more about Seth?
As far as the adults in the novel go, Dr. Williamson is a different sort of authority figure. While many headmasters are arrogant and condescending or completely weak against their stronger students' forces, Dr. Williamson knows exactly what's going on and has a reason for everything. He's a stickler but also a supporter. His down-to-earth attitude was a refreshing change from the stern, unbending or clueless disciplinarian.
My only complaint is that I wish Minder had been...fuller. It felt like most of the story revolved around Maddie and her love interest and their unique connection. While those scenes were great, it unbalanced the book, leaving me surprised (and feeling a little cheated about the Seth thing) that the end came so soon. Like I said earlier, Minder establishes the Ganzfield universe, and the next novels may contain more mystery and less soulmating, so I will content myself with that hope.
As a warning for younger teens, I need to address the topic of the charms and their less-than-admirable intentions toward the non-charms. While nothing explicit occurs in the novel, the thoughts of immature and hateful teenage boys are shown, in a stereotypical (and possibly accurate) way. The curt images aren't explicit or detailed, but they do exist in raw form, as more than an allusion. Due to their brevity and context, they're not a reason to abandon the novel, but it's not appropriate for younger teens. There's some swearing, as well as some suggestive thoughts from Maddie, but in terms of reader maturity, they're inconsequential when compared to the issue with the charms.
Overall, I really enjoyed Minder. It was a fun read, fast-paced and left me wishing I had time to finish it all in one sitting. I'll definitely be getting my hands on Adversary and Legacy to find out what happens in the coming war. Kate Kaynak has written a promising debut, and the series can only get better.
Author: Kate Kaynak
Genre: Teen Fiction - Romance & Friendship
Book Source: Received an ARC from the author for review