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A Review: Mindwar, A Novel by Andrew Klavan

Mindwar: A Novel (The Mindwar Trilogy Book 1)

by Andrew Klavan
Reviewed by Debbie Thompson

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             A teen with a broken body, a broken home, and a broken spirit takes refuge in his darkened room with nothing to do but play computer games. Sound familiar?  All the energy and determination he once put into his grades and his football team is poured into Starlight Warriors, Dragon Soul 3, Zombie Apocalypse 5: The Return. In fact Rick Dial, former athlete, holds the highest score in the world, higher even than professional gamers. For this reason he has been chosen to enter the cyber world creation of US enemies determined to use game world technology as a vehicle to hack and destroy US computer controlled systems: financial, airline, utilities, and military, everything operated by computer.

This gaming environment is so real that a real person can in a way, enter the system and affect it. Conversely, what happens in the game world of The Realm affects real life. Wounds received there hurt in real life. Rick has to risk everything, even his life and family, to save everything he cares about.  The only plus side is that his body is whole in The Realm and strong as it used to be. Even if he wards off the first attack, will Kurodar find another way to strike? Only the next books in the series, yet to be released can tell us.

Andrew Klavan weaves classic adventure novel elements and current computer game savvy into a can’t- put -it -down read for youths and adults.  Courage, honor, and fidelity are upheld; no ‘hiding away like a toddler in a sulk’!  His realistic portrayal of the emotions of a hurt teen, resentful of God and unable to lift himself out of depression is masterful. He does not leave Rick Dial in the miserable place we find him in. At the end, Rick’s personal and faith problems are not suddenly resolved, but the reader can see hope for his future in his meeting the challenges each level of the game presents.

Mindwar does not shy away from the realistic problems of teens in our complicated world. However, unlike many novels for young adults, Mindwar supports ordinary, normal American life in which family and faith play a large part.  It does not minimize the reality of faith in God:  the doubts created by lack of knowledge, experience, or pain and suffering are realistically addressed. Klavan’s characters have irritating little brothers, tired and harassed moms, and inexplicable dads.  Both of these elements are often missing in the current YA book world.

But this novel is also not like the usual YA Christian novel. It is not moralistic, preachy, or unrealistic. There  are no sermons, no lectures on the sins of smoking, drinking, and fornicating, While no one ‘gets saved’,  it is a closer picture of God’s work to come to the aid of a hurting teen.   In this way its appeal is extended to just about anyone who enjoys the Action/Adventure/Political Thriller genre would enjoy this book regardless of their faith or lack thereof. It is a masterful piece of cultural apologetics that is age appropriate from ten or so years old to 100 or so.

Get it today but beware, this is only book 1 of a three part series. The forces of evil may have experienced a setback but not even Rick Dial believes they are conquered. You’ll have to wait for the rest of the series, but hopefully not too long. In the meantime, read any of Andrew Klavan’s YA novels. You won’t be sorry you did and if you are an adult, give them to the kids in your life and you will suddenly have something to talk about with them that they enjoy.

 An unpaid review.

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