Mindscape - M. M. Vaughn

Full Disclosure: I requested a copy of this book without realizing that it is a sequel, which did affect my reading somewhat at the beginning, but which I don't believe has affected my review of the book.
Ernest leaned over, picked up the paper and a brass tack lying on the table, and walked over to the wall behind him. Holding the picture up against the only piece of the dark wood paneling still visible, he pushed the pin in and then stepped back. He turned slowly around, the anger rising up inside him as he stared at the drawing of the boy who had murdered his brother, and he realized he was ready: It was time for revenge.
Twelve-year-old Christopher Lane has had a terrible previous year. His mother is incredibly depressed. His father is dead. He has been admitted to a private London academy, Myers Holt, for young people with The Ability, a telekinetic power that allows them to enter into and manipulate people through powers of the mind. These young people are trained to use their powers for good and help MI5 and the police to solve crimes. The year before, Chris inadvertently killed another boy during a battle at the Antarctic Ball. The boy's brother, Ernest, now wants revenge.

This is a mind-bending story (pun intended), full of twists and turns. Reminiscent, in some ways, of Inception or What Dreams May Come, the makeup of each mind's interior is quite imaginative and remarkable—every mind is laid out like a city map, complete with streets and building names, full of files and information for those with The Ability to navigate. The children are smart and intuitive, and learn with almost no effort due to their abilities. Though they are believable individuals, I often felt myself wondering if they didn't act and sound a few years older than the age of twelve they are described as being.

The main characters are well fleshed out, as are a number of the secondary characters. Ms. Lamb is rather two-dimensional until the very end, and I wish there had been a bit more subtle development there. I was also unsure about the psychologist who arrives at the academy to help the children deal with the experiences of the last year—he is said to be an army psychologist, but he tries to get Chris to sing and hug a teddy bear, and it is jarring in the larger context of the story. The ending of the story also seems to wrap-up swiftly after all of the build-up, and there is a character shift which happens improbably quickly (I would say more, but I would spoil the ending). 

Overall, this is an enjoyable and engrossing novel that will capture the imaginations of many young readers who enjoy adventure and crime-solving.

Recommended for fans of the first book

(Note: This review is from an Advanced Reading Copy - Out March 11, 2014)

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