Indie Book Review – Locked Tight (Mindjack: Zeph Book 1) by Susan Kaye Quinn

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Now, I shall preface this review by saying that I absolutely hate reading books set in the first person point-of-view. My problem with it is that books are about losing yourself in other people’s adventures, a sneak peak into other (fictional) lives. Trying to put me into the shoes of the character by making it first-person, for me, is always jarring. When I’m told ‘I look up,’ ‘I eat my breakfast,’ ‘My knees quivered at the sight of her,’ my mind rebels and I lose my suspension of disbelief. No, I do not do that, I’m not there, I’m not doing this or that or, indeed, the other. I want to watch, to be told a story, to be an outside observer. Now, I understand not everyone feels that way. But I do.

Which is why, despite Locked Tight being set in the first-person, I was very pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed it anyway.

Even to begin with, the setting is very interesting. We find ourselves in the shoes of our main character, Zeph, a young adult male, on the search for his long-lost family, and living in a still-recognisable but oh-so different near future. It’s a world of driverless taxis and news-camera drones, not so far-fetched, one would think.

The twist lies in the fact that, in this near future, humanity has started to develop psychic powers.

As with all good stories, there is conflict, and in this book the conflict comes in the form of psychics being divided into two factions. There are Readers, psychics whose powers are mostly benign, able to share their thoughts and feelings, but not a great deal more.

Then there’s Jackers, psychics whose powers are more offensive, able to hack into the minds of other people, including Readers, and carry out all sorts of nefariousness, ranging from planting hypnotic suggestions, all the way through to knocking people out, even mind-wiping them.

Zeph, our hero, is a Jacker, although only a select few people know or even find out throughout the course of the book. In fact, one of his main drivers is trying to keep his abilities secret. For he isn’t a normal Jacker, but has a special talent – the ability to spin people’s ‘mind-maps,’ moulding their minds, and their powers, like a toddler moulds play-doh.

Of course, this doesn’t make him some god-like, psychic John Wick. There are foils. Shady organisations, the military, all with special ‘anti-jacking’ technology, that even his prodigious mind can’t counter. Not only that, but you’re constantly aware of how he is still a young, sometimes naive, albeit with a level head on his shoulders, adult. The fear of losing his family is prevalent. Young, pretty ladies are intimidating figures causing a lead tongue and knocking knees.

It’s not the longest book in the world, but book ones in a series often aren’t, and usually for good reason – they’re there to entice readers in, and to slowly ease them into a new world. And Mind Jack does the job well.

A likeable character, a brisk plot, twists and turns, and, most importantly, an intriguing setting that doesn’t rely on gun-fights or kung-fu. A simple hero’s journey, just as a book one should be.

So fun, I sometimes forgot I was reading in the first-person.