02 July 2014

MindWar by Andrew Klavan

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When Rick lost the ability to run, he came one step closer to becoming a hero.

New High Score! New Record Time!

Rick nodded with grim satisfaction. He laid the game controller aside on the sofa and reached for his crutches.

Rick Dial was the best quarterback Putnam Hills High School had ever seen. Unflappable. Unstoppable. Number 12. But when a car accident left him crippled, Rick’s life as he knew it ended. He disavowed his triumphant past. He ignored his girlfriend. He disappeared into his bedroom — and into the glowing video screen.

But Rick’s uncanny gaming skills have attracted attention. Dangerous attention. Government agents have uncovered a potentially devastating cyber-threat: a Russian genius has created a digital reality called the Realm, from which he can enter, control, and disrupt American computer systems... from transportation to defense. The agents want Rick, quick-thinking quarterback and gaming master, to enter the Realm and stop the madman — before he sends America into chaos.

Entering the Realm will give Rick what he thought he’d never have again: a body as strong and fast as it was before the accident. But this is no game, there are no extra lives, and what happens to Rick in the Realm happens to Rick’s body in reality.

Even after Rick agrees to help, he can’t shake the sense that he’s being kept in the dark. Why would a government agency act so aggressively? Can anyone inside the Realm be trusted? How many others have entered before him... and failed to return?

In the tradition of Ender’s Game and The Matrix, MindWar is a complex thriller about a seemingly ordinary teenager who discovers a hidden gift — a gift that could make him a hero... or cost him everything.

Before MindWar, I had never heard of Andrew Klavan, much less read any of his books. I didn’t quite know what to expect when I started reading, but the mention of Ender’s Game, a book I have obsessively read several times and absolutely love, in the blurb had me intrigued from the get-go. And though I don’t know if it would be possible to top Ender’s Game (in my opinion), Klavan’s MindWar still did not disappoint. Fast-paced action drives the novel, so finding a safe place to stop for a moment is a challenge. I read much later into the night than planned simply because I had to know just a bit more and then a little more about the Realm and the MindWar Project. And in the midst of the action, Klavan adds great moments of reflection for Rick, as he transforms into the hero he needs to be and understands how to define his identity. Fun and imaginative, MindWar combines many fantastic elements of Ender’s Game and The Matrix, but also throws in a few all its own for good measure. (Interestingly, the idea of the Realm, when introduced in the novel, first reminded me of Veil of Secrets with its terrorist group threatening the presidential campaign. I didn’t expect that connection...) I enjoyed this first foray into Andrew Klavan’s fiction, and I know I’ll pick up the second book in the MindWar trilogy when it comes out. Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of this book and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

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