Mindwar is an ideal trilogy for 13+. Mr. Klavan, himself a Christian scriptwriter of thrillers (it is indeed possible), wrote this one for Christian young adults, and all three books have some violence. Graphic encounters with crocodile men, spider-snakes, half-dead skeletons, and devil-men make this quite an adventure. But if you can handle the violence, be sure to check out this book about a young man who finds his strength in Christ.
- Hannah’s rating- 4/5
- Nathan’s rating- 3.3/5
- Grace’s rating- 4/5
Rick Dial used to be the hero of his high school, a quarterback with everything he could ever want. But his father has run away with an old girlfriend, and after a freak car accident, Rick is left imprisoned in his house with his grieving mother and innocent little brother. He spends his time hiding in his room and playing video games. Things aren’t looking up, and after several months, all Rick has is the highest record on pretty much every game he has ever set thumbs on.
One green van and a giant hitman later, Rick finds out that a certain Commander Mars needs his skills in gaming and reflexes of a quarterback to defeat Kurodar, a crazed genius who is using his mind Realm to take over the world. Rick reluctantly accepts the mission and is sent into this Realm full of hostile monsters and dangers of every kind. His only help comes from two mysterious people: Favian, a computer-sprite of sorts, and Mariel, a girl from the silver river. Time is running out, and Kurodar’s strength is growing every day. Rick just needs to find a way to stop him and his insane minion Reza before Kurodar can destroy the world.
What is good
The whole theme of Mindwar is that we can overcome all sorts of obstacles with God’s help. Rick learns to pull himself out of the mire of self-pity and work at seemingly impossible tasks. Mariel tells Rick that his emotions can’t control him unless he gives in: “You’re going to be afraid, but if you surrender to your fear, you’re lost… Live in your spirit and you can defeat them.” At one of the worst moments Rick hears God’s voice telling him that He’s always with Rick, “Even in the Realm.”
You can probably guess that while Rick doesn’t start out as the best role model, his harrowing adventures in the Realm bring out his better side. He shows courage. He starts to care about other people. He tries to hold his feelings back instead of lashing out at others in his anger. Rick’s little brother, known only as Raider, hardly seems to notice Rick’s moping and adores his big brother, loving Rick no matter how Rick treats the world around him. Rick meets a whole world (literally) of other good role models, such as the selfless Mariel and Favian, who use their own energy to help Rick with his mission. And those are just a few examples; you probably know that I like to focus on just one or two morals. If you want to know the rest, you have to read the book.
What is not good
Rick endures gruesome fights with hungry spider-snakes and huge alligator-men. He ends up facing demon-men and giant octopodes at the climaxes of the books. At the same time, Rick has a time limit; if he stays in the Realm too long, his mind will melt and he’ll become a horrendous skeletons, neither living nor dead, and Rick comes awfully close to that time limit several times. When we finally meet Kurodar himself, ailing and wired to his Realm, he doesn’t look much better than those skeletons. Other main characters suffer wounds from bullets and human fists. As written, if it was a movie, this sort of gore would most certainly earn it a PG-13 rating.
Older readers might pick up on a bit of other questionable content. Rick believes that his father, Dr. Dial, has left Rick’s mother for an old girlfriend. Rick kisses his own girlfriend Molly and thinks about her occasionally, while at the same time entertaining a crush on the water-girl Mariel. He knows something about this is simply wrong, calling it “complicated.” (Of course, everything is resolved in the end.)
Mindwar is the one Andrew Klavan trilogy that I would recommend for other teenagers. All three books have my mark of approval for anyone over twelve who is ready for an action-packed tale of good guys saving the world in a God-honoring way.