Review of MindWar by Andrew Klavan

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Genre: YA Fiction/Action & Adventure/Sci-Fi

Series: MindWar Trilogy, Book #1

Recommended.

Rick Dial had been the quarterback of his high school football game; but after injuring his legs in a car accident he has been avoiding real life by loosing himself in a video-game obsession. When a secret government group recruits him to enter “the Realm” (a digital world created by a Russian villian) because of his unusually high gaming skill, he begins to rethink his life–and realizes that his father, who recently deserted the family, is not whom he imagined.

I have read Andrew Klavan’s Homelanders Series, and think he is one of the best choices for YA Christian fiction. His writing is swift and action-oriented. MindWar has a very different feel than his other works–it’s lighter, with a little less suspense, more room to provoke thought, but still with as much action and character risk-taking as ever.

There are a couple themes in the narrative that give me pause:

  1. I am not clear based on the first book alone what the “the Realm” represents. It appears to be a replica of the spiritual world and spiritual battle (in a good way!), but depending on how the story moves, the underlying message could go in any direction.
  2. I’m unsure how I feel about the “spirit guides”–maybe a different word choice would be more appropriate (I gather they represent angels).
  3. Rick learns to control his physical reality through his spiritual reality, which I find to be an excellent parallel for putting faith into action, but which could also be mistaken for the manipulation of the spiritual/physical realms as in the occult–or, on the “Christian” side of things, within the “word of faith” movement. The lines between what is and isn’t biblical are based so strongly on the posture of the heart that it is unclear which stance the story is working from since the details are not clearly defined. I judge it to be okay–even a helpful example; but having come out of an occult/New Age background, I am sensitive and hesitant over some of the scenes and word choices.

Overall, I do recommend this book, despite my small hesitations. I think it will catch the attention of pre-teen to teenage boys (or action loving girls). And I like that it opens up the conversation of faith, spirituality, and the supernatural realm without being overtly religious.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.

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