Teens' Book of the Month: Mind Blind

Author: Lari Don| Age category: 12-16

Synopsis: 

Ciaran Bain is a criminal with a special and burdensome ability: he can read people’s minds, to such an acute degree that he can be crippled by absorbing their fear and pain. Lucy Shaw is fourteen, frightened and angry. Her older sister has been killed in mysterious circumstances for reasons no one knows. Lucy wants justice, and the truth. Despite their mistrust of each other, Ciaran and Lucy must work together to locate evidence of a deadly secret, the secret that killed Lucy’s sister and could shatter the lives of Ciaran’s family. At every turn they risk discovery, and the journey they take will change their lives forever.

 

Review

You’ll want to read it in one night but will be thinking about the complex lives of these characters for days afterwards.

This is Fabled Beast Chronicles author Lari Don’s first novel for teens, and what a way to start it is. One of the standout features of the book is its pervasive tension: Ciaran’s pursuers are also mind readers, and as a result the risk of him and Lucy being uncovered never goes away, no matter how remote and dark their hiding places may be. The writing really packs a punch: scenes where Ciaran is overwhelmed by feeling other people’s fear, hate and sadness are evocative and powerful, and the bad guys are truly terrifying in their coldness and brutality. Ciaran and Lucy are great characters, each with major flaws but also strength and initiative which will make you root for them. The book is fast paced and the balance between action and character development is ideal: you’ll want to read it in one night but will be thinking about the complex lives of these characters for days afterwards.

 

Competition 

We have 5 copies of Mind Blind to be won! To be in with a chance of winning one, just answer this question:

Lari has written four adventure novels for 8–12 year olds, what are these well-loved Chronicles called? 

Send your answer to Miriam Morris at miriam.morris@scottishbooktrust.com. Competition closes on Friday 31 October. Entrants outside the UK must cover postage.

 

Q&A with Lari Don

Did you enjoy the research that you did for this book?

Yes I did, but Mind Blind wasn’t an easy book to write. It’s very different from any book I’ve written before, so the writing process was exciting, but also challenging! There’s a certain amount of violence in the book, both physical and emotional, which I sometimes found disturbing and distressing to research and write, but I hope that my ambivalence to the violence comes across in my characters’ reactions and in the consequences of their more dangerous actions.  

I’d never written a book before with a hero and a heroine who are not straight up and down goodies. Ciaran is a criminal and Lucy is a victim determined to take revenge, so neither of them are particularly good role models! They were great fun to write, but it was challenging to create characters who were flawed but also intriguing enough to keep readers following their story. I got very fond of both main characters, but I don’t think I’d like to meet them in real life. So yes, I enjoyed writing Mind Blind, but it wasn’t simple or relaxing! 

Why did you start writing this book?

I didn’t mean to write this book! In fact, I resisted writing it! I was in the middle of writing the Fabled Beasts Chronicles, which is for younger readers, when I had an idea about a mind-reading criminal who gets easily overwhelmed by other people’s feelings and thoughts. I loved the idea, but I knew that to do it justice, the plot had to be dark and dangerous. I knew it wasn’t for 8-year-olds!  

Ciaran Bain wouldn’t go away. I just kept thinking about the implications of his powers and his weaknesses

I put it to the back of my mind, so I could concentrate on adventures with dragons and centaurs but the idea wouldn’t go away. Specifically, Ciaran Bain wouldn’t go away. I just kept thinking about the implications of his powers and his weaknesses, and then Lucy appeared in my head – one of his victims, in a way, but someone who didn’t act like a victim at all and now I had a story. I didn’t mean to write it, I had other novels to write, but the ideas just kept pushing their way to the front of my mind. I started scribbling the ideas down, then before I knew it, I was writing the novel. I didn’t really choose to write Mind Blind, the story and characters forced their way out!  

What else have you written?

I’ve written four adventure novels for 8–12-year-olds, the Fabled Beast Chronicles, about a girl who uses a first aid kit to heal various magical beings (including a centaur, a dragon and a selkie) as she joins them on their adventures. And I’ve written a slightly darker stand-alone fantasy novel, set in the Scottish mountains, called Rocking Horse War. I also write collections of the myths and legends which inspire my books, including Girls, Goddesses and Giants - a collection of heroine stories,  and Breaking the Spell – a collection of Scottish tales. I write for much younger readers too, with really serious picture books like The Big Bottom Hunt so you can see why a teen novel was a bit of a surprise! 

To find out more about Lari's Books visit her webpageRead up on our previous Children's and Teens' Books of the Month here.