Mindwalker (Mindwalker #1) by A. J. Steiger
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Released: June 4th 2015
My Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
At seventeen, Lain Fisher has already aced the Institute's elite training program for Mindwalkers, therapists who use a direct neural link to erase a patient's traumatic memories. A prodigy and the daughter of a renowned scientist-whose unexplained death left her alone in the world-Lain is driven by the need to save others.
When Steven, a troubled classmate, asks her to wipe a horrific childhood experience from his mind, Lain's superiors warn her to stay away. Steven's scars are too deep, they say; the risk too great. Yet the more time Lain spends with him, the more she begins to question everything about her society. As she defies the warnings and explores Steven's memories, it becomes clear that he's connected to something much bigger…something the Institute doesn't want the world to discover.
Lain never expected to be a rule breaker. She certainly didn't plan on falling in love with a boy she's been forbidden to help. But then, she never expected to stumble into a conspiracy that could ignite a revolution. (from Goodreads)
I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Mindwalker. I didn’t actually know too much about it before I started reading so I was a bit hesitant, but it ended up surpassing my expectations. I have read so many dystopian books at this point that I really didn’t think anything could impress me anymore - but Mindwalker did! It’s a slightly different approach to the genre that I haven’t seen in many books (if I had to compare it to something, maybe a cross between Minority Report and Psycho Pass?) and I am looking forward to continuing this series!
Lain was a very interesting heroine. She was almost the opposite of heroines you would usually see in dystopians, like Katniss or Tris. She wasn’t a strong fighter, she wasn’t necessarily brave in the face of danger/pain. She wasn’t an excellent strategist. But she was a great character all the same - and this is what I want, guys. Female characters don’t need to kick down doors and throw knives (though that’s pretty awesome too) in order to be strong leading characters. Lain was complex; she was compassionate and sincerely wanted to help people - to the point where it was almost like an addiction. She was also loyal but not stupid, and questioned things when she thought something was wrong. I really enjoyed reading about her, and though we didn’t necessarily agree on everything (how on earth did she think bringing Steven to the party was a good idea?!), I could understand her decisions and motives behind them. The way she was able to deal with experiencing other people’s terrible memories as well, to see and feel everything they did in order to know which memories to erase - I don’t think I could have done that. It seemed so horrible and yet she did it for client after client because she really thought that erasing those memories would help them. And even though she was so empathetic and caring, she wasn’t a pushover. She dealt with things rationally (well, most of the time) and calmly. She was good at calming Steven down and in one scene I liked that she didn’t just agree to his suggestion of sharing memories in order to get him to trust her. She waited until she was ready to share them, until she actually wanted him to trust her fully.
Steven was another fascinating character. He wanted Lain to illegally erase his memories because he could no longer go down the legal path, and he just couldn’t live with them anymore. He had suffered terrible abuse at a young age and he wanted to forget those memories so he could lead a normal life. He didn’t trust people but you could tell he wanted to trust Lain. And I liked that his problems weren’t magically solved by meeting her, you know like in those books where the moral of the story is basically “if you find someone to love you, all your problems will go away and any broken part of you will be fixed!”. Yeah, that didn’t happen here, because this book actually went down a more realistic path. Without the Mindwalking procedure, Steven would always suffer from the trauma of what happened to him. He may learn ways to cope and deal with it so that he may lead a regular life - but it would never go away, especially not just because of a girl he met. Steven knew this, Lain knew this. No-one expected anyone to change just because they had feelings for each other. Lain actually cared about Steven, where no-one had ever cared before. She took the time to know him and I like the slow way their relationship developed. I also liked how they put their feelings aside when they had to in order to accomplish their goals. The romance didn’t interfere with the actual plot, there were no overdramatic miscommunications that slowed things down and dragged things out, which I really appreciated.
Plot-wise, the pacing was practically perfect. The way things developed over time, the way the characters started to realise something wasn’t right…I loved it. Some things were predictable (surrounding Lain’s father and Steven’s true memories) but then again, I’ve read so many dystopians that I would be expected to be familiar with the format. And this book was definitely quite dark, and sometimes disturbing. It explored some serious themes, mostly focussing on mental illness and suicide and the morality behind government intervention (or lack thereof). You sort of have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. I was also very intrigued by certain things that weren’t wrapped up in this book, which is why I’m excited for the sequel. The consequences of the ending, for starters. And also, Ian. He was a curious character. I think he had feelings for Lain but he wouldn’t admit it - and yet he did so much for her. I don’t really want a love triangle, but I would like to see more of him.
Overall, I really enjoyed Mindwalker. If you are looking for a new kind of dystopian, or if you’re a fan of things like Psycho Pass (a great anime, watch it), then I highly recommend this book.