A Ganzfield Novel, Volume 1
Author: Kate Kaynak's
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Published: June 2010
ISBN #: 978-0984531103
Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. The training facility at Ganzfield isn't 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...
This book sucked me in and would not let me go, not that I would have wanted it to. From the beginning, it captured me with the suspense of what was happening, then kepted me intrigued with the possiblity of what would happen. It starts off a little disturbing for a young adult novel, but the situation really was relevent to setting the foundation for the story.
The protagonist, a 16 year old New Jersey girl named Maddie, was the narrator of this book. In the beginning of the book, she experienced a traumatic event that altered her life forever. It also revealed that she was not your average teenage girl, that there was something special about her. Soon, Maddie learns that she was not alone, that there were others like her. Hoping to learn more about her gifts, She attends Ganzfeild, a live-in secret training facilty (school of sorts) that would teach her to control her gifts and perhaps explain why she had them in the first place. I really enjoyed Maddie's character, not because she was strong and smart, but that she felt like a teenager...with all the insecurities, confusions, and mischeiviousness of one. More often than not, in most Young Adult books, teenagers come off too mature or adult in thier behavior and reasoning. It was refreshing as a reader, to witness the actual essence of a teenager being captured within the pages.
I also like to mention, I loved her relationship with Trevor. The telekentic that manages to share in her dreams. They seem to help each other control thier powers and develop a sweet and romanctic love. I really liked how well they connected, and thier internal interactions. As a mother, I did feel a little uncomfortable about the soul-mating aspect, but while I might not have liked it, it felt realistic and true. Which in an odd way, made the relationship seem more real. Then there was Maddie's growing relationship with Dr.Williamson. He made me curious. He was constantly testing her, and was obviously pleased with the results. I know that he had some paternal feelings towards her, but I couldn't help the feeling that he was also using her.
I found the plot to be clever and creative. A school for gifted students isn't something new, but students using there powers on each other and using the school as a battlefield, with the faculty's encouragment, is. Can you imagine, teens with incrediable powers using them on each other without consequences? Like all schools, there were clicks...there are the Sparks, students that can start fires with thier mind. Charms who "push" other people into doing things...think mind control. Believe me when I say, that some of the students had no fear of forcing thier cruelty on others. Maddie is a Minder, she has the ability to read peoples minds and kill with a thought. The bullies of the school soon learn, that there is always someone stronger and more powerful. When she stands up to the them, she makes some dangerous enemies, but she also makes some loyal friends as well. Think scoobie gang, but with a darker edge. It's a good thing she does make friends, because they will need to stick together...as I said, there is always someone stronger and more powerful...and this someone wants to see them all hunted, dissected, and dead.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. However, it was so realistic at times, that as a mother of a teenage daughter, it made me a little uncomfortable. The cruelity of teens, the neglect of supervision, the non-consensual violence, etc...it made it dark and disturbing. Fortunately, the story was balanced with the warm feelings of first love, the bonding of new friends, and the discovery of courage in ones self, making it a completely satisfying read. I had a good time reading Minder and I am really look foward to the second installment in the Ganzfeild Novels, Adversary.
The cover is very simple and leaves much to the imagination. I personally would have liked to seen more color or something more thematic, especially for an young adult book.