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BOOK REVIEW: Mind Writer by Steve Cole

BOOK REVIEW: Mind Writer by Steve Cole

Barrington Stoke
July 2016
Paperback, $11.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Middle Grade/Speculative

5/10

9781781125830-1

He hadn’t heard Miss Han speak. He’d heard her thoughts. And other thoughts were crowding into his head too. It was as if the rest of the class were thinking aloud, but only he could hear them.

Luke’s always been good at knowing things. He could guess at a right answer in class or pick up on things other people couldn’t. But now it’s sharpened into something much more. Now Luke can actually hear people’s thoughts.

“I suppose it’s like having a satellite dish in your head,” the girl said. “You know. The way you pick up signals.”
Luke stared. “Huh?”
“I’m talking about your power. Your gift.” The girl leaned in and added in a whisper, “You can read people’s thoughts. Can’t you?”

And there’s a weird new girl hanging around who seems to know exactly what he can do.

But one girl hung back and watched Luke. She was tall, thin, straight up and down. She had black hair and brown eyes and was wearing a different school uniform. Luke didn’t recognise her, but somehow he felt like he’d know her for ages.

She wants something from him but can he trust her?

“That was something to do with you?” he asked.
“That was everything to do with me.”
Samira gave a little laugh. “See, Luke, you might be able to read minds. But I can write all over them.”

Not everything is as it seems in this high-octane thriller, perfect for fans of Alex Rider.

 

My thoughts on this books are rather mixed.

On the one hand:

  • This is a book printed on tinted pages, with brilliant spacing and font size for dyslexic readers, in the recently rebranded “super readable” range from Barrington Stoke.
  • It’s short, there’s high drama a little older than the age group that the text would suggest, thus providing an interesting story for readers who might be a little less skilled in the reading department than their peers, but without boring them senseless.
  • There are also several deliciously dark full-page illustrations throughout.

On the other hand: 

  • There was very little in the way of description or world-building, and the whole story was cut down to just the action sequences.
  • The format/editing was inconsistent, with thoughts at times being shown in italics, and at other times with single quotation marks, while speech was in double quotation marks. For dyslexic and reluctant readers, this could be particularly confusing. For a title aimed specifically at dyslexic readers, consistency should be scrutinised more carefully.
  • The promotional material suggests it would be great for readers of Alex Rider, but the levels here are distinctly different, given that Alex Rider is a lot longer and more well-developed. While the two might be compared in terms of the full-throttle story, the reading level is very different.

 

Books that encourage unlikely readers are  so very important, and it is so fantastic that all of Barrington Stoke’s books cater to those who have a hard time reading without making them feel like they’re reading at the level of a much younger person. But this one did feel incredibly rushed, what with the fact that the whole book was action based, jumping from the end of one action scene to the start of the next. The majority of conclusions the characters made seemed to come out of nowhere, but one play on words in particular was harped on several times.

This was a mostly enjoyable, incredibly quick read, but it would have been nice if closer attention had been paid to the formatting, and the story had been a little more well developed.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Mind Writer by Steve Cole

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