Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Review: The Mind's Eye (2014)

A couple years ago, I promised to purchase and review Chris Nuttall's then-new novel The Mind's Eye, but life got in the way and that promise fell by the wayside. I don't abandon promises lightly, so at long last here's the promised review. 

The Plot

Marine Lieutenant Art Russell is on a mission in Afghanistan to capture or kill a major terrorist leader when he develops a severe headache and loses consciousness. When he wakes up, he discovers he has developed telepathy--the ability to read minds. He uses these abilities to foil a terrorist attack and is soon transferred to the CIA and promoted to captain, where he's tasked with preventing another, bigger attack in New York City.

However, more and more people are developing telepathic abilities and this is causing major problems for society. Many people are fearful of telepaths and want to control or kill them, and although most telepaths mean nobody any harm, some are willing to misuse their abilities. The stage is set for a violent showdown...

The Good

*The book starts in the middle of the action with a group of U.S. Marines on a mission in Afghanistan. No excessive info-dumping, no boring buildup. It doesn't start with a bang 100% only because the shooting hasn't started yet, but that doesn't really matter.

*The book is a quick and entertaining read. It's never boring and it's not too long. I finished it in two sessions on the elliptical.

*Each chapter begins with a news article providing the broader context for events in the narrative or describing something happening elsewhere in the world. Those could be a good source of spinoffs or areas to be explored in future sequels.

The Bad

*The book suffers from two many characters in too many places. It would have been better to follow Russell and a couple other characters throughout the early days of the new Telepathic Age rather than have so many diffuse POVs.

*A character starts out as a smarter-than-thou nerd and soon after developing telepathy and escaping from an anti-telepath terrorist attack starts blatantly espousing master-race theories, including ideas of superior bloodlines. This comes out of nowhere, although it's revealed later that he was under the influence of another character. That other character isn't named and mentioned until much later. It would have been better if there'd been more scenes from the perspective of the POV character for that subplot, watching him fall more and more under the influence of this bad influence and/or processing his trauma by reading lots of books with...dangerous the home of the professor they're staying with. By the final quarter of the book, he turns in a full-blown Evil Nerd with a whole lot of internal hatred of women, something that wasn't really foreshadowed either.

*Pursuant to my above comments, it would have been better if the early plot featuring Russell's investigation of a planned Islamist terror attack in the United States is the main plot of the book. The climax could be a battle with the jihadi commander known only as the Emir...and it's revealed that he too is a telepath. That could be the shocking sequel hook...Russell is not a freak and there are more telepaths out there. The discovery of more and more telepaths, the popular reaction to the presence of telepaths (attempts to kill them, attempts to exploit them, etc) could be the plot of the second book, with Evil Nerd guy going rogue at the end. The third book could deal with the rogue-telepath plot. This way, Evil Nerd's fall from grace is spread out over a more realistic time-frame and we see it happen rather than him going from a know-it-all to a racist to a perverted murderous monster in what seems to be only a few months.

*The ending seems rather difficult in light of both the U.S. Constitution and the contributions the good telepaths made in the fight against both radical Islamist terrorists and evil telepaths. At the very least, the resulting court cases should play a role in any sequel.

*A character who has sex with a woman but doesn't know what role his telepathy played in her consent thinks the only way he'll know if it was consensual or if he was a "filthy rapist" will be when he dies, but never before expressed any belief in God, an afterlife, a Judgement Day, etc. It kind of came out of nowhere.

The Verdict

It's okay. There are good concepts that could have been developed further. 7.5 out of 10.

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