A teen programmer at a school for geniuses must join forces with a boy she can’t remember to stop a hacker from deleting their memories in Shana Silver’s action-packed YA debut, Mind Games.
Arden sells memories. Whether it’s becoming homecoming queen or studying for that all important test, Arden can hack into a classmate’s memories and upload the experience for you just as if you’d lived it yourself. Business is great, right up until the day Arden whites out, losing fifteen minutes of her life and all her memories of the boy across the school yard. The boy her friends assure her she’s had a crush on for years.
Arden realizes that her own memories have been hacked, but they haven’t just been stolen and shared … they’ve been removed. And she’s not the only one: her mysterious crush, Sebastian, has lost ALL of his memories. But how can they find someone who has the power to make them forget everything they’ve learned?
Representation: (click to show)
M/M secondary relationship, Asian MLM secondary character
Content warnings: (click to show)
memory tampering, 3D printed body parts, on-page self harm
I received an advance review copy of the book for the blog tour through Xpresso Book Tours; all opinions expressed are my own and honest.
This book is impressive not just because it’s a fantastically written debut, but it’s refreshingly different from pretty much anything I can remember reading. While I wouldn’t consider myself well-read enough in the sci-fi or romance genres to confidently call it unique, it’s certainly memorable.
It’s intense, high-stakes action from beginning to end — and it’s incredibly intelligent, with actual scientific principles and processes being described rather than glossed over. (Though I did fact-check some of it with a chemistry-major friend who said it wouldn’t work as intended … so it’s probably not a good idea to try any of this at home.) Some fascinating ethical dilemmas and social standards are brought into question,
It feels almost like you, the reader, get to team up with Arden and Sebastian, which is awesome because Arden and Sebastian are awesome.
Of course, we spend the most time with Arden since she’s our protagonist and narrator. I loved that she casually exemplifies both brains and beauty: it’s 2019 and unfortunately this isn’t the norm yet, but it’s so empowering to read about the clicking of Arden’s black stilettos as she heads to the computer lab. She draws so much strength from her relationships, particularly with her family and her best friend, and at the same time it’s nice to be reminded that “strong” and “soft” are not mutually exclusive traits. Possibly the only thing I didn’t like are her disdainful generalizations about other girls and women; it didn’t really add anything to the story, and the world could use less internalized misogyny.
And it’s fascinating to see how Sebastian deals with not having any memories, how that affects his behavior and his personal identity. Being a kind of blank slate doesn’t make him a bland or boring character, either; he’s funny and smart and an all-around fantastic partner in crime. (I’ll let you find out for yourself how literal that’s meant to be.)
A significant part of this book is the romance, as you’ve probably guessed. I’m still figuring out what exactly I do and don’t like in (fictional) couples, but in this case I can say that I definitely ship it. They work really well together, literally as they try to figure out what’s going on and recover their memories, and figuratively as (metaphorical) sparks fly between them.
Part of what I love about ARCs is getting to experience a book without any influence from others’ reviews and thoughts; this book reminded me a little of The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in that neither the narrator nor the reader has much idea what’s going on, and putting the pieces together is a large part of the fun. The basic synopsis gives you enough; I would just go for it, rather than reading reviews that might give away too much.
About the Author
Rachel Shane (writing as Shana Silver) studied creative writing at Syracuse University. She’s been a computer animator, an e-book creator for a major publisher, and now works as a Project Manager in digital and TV advertising where she enjoys telling people what to do. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, young daughter, and the characters she dreams up.
[Icons Credit: Side_Project]
This tour includes a US-only giveaway of a print copy of Mind Games! (Ends September 5, 2019)