Monday, May 28, 2012

REVIEW: Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn

Closed Hearts (Mindjack Trilogy, #2) Closed Hearts by Susan Kaye Quinn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review, Slight Spoiler

I really liked book 1 so I was excited when book 2 came out. Once I got my hands on it, I immediately read it. Wow, what a big disappointment book 2 turned out to be. The series was still well written, well edited, and fast-paced. So what was the problem with Closed Hearts, the YA novel of around 84,000 words? One word: Kira.

All the character development in book 1 that made Kira a kick-ass heroine was gone in book 2. Gone! She regressed back to her insecure, incompetent self. By the time she started kicking ass, it was too little too late and bam there was the ending.

The Beginning

The novel began with Kira working with her father to mindguard their rich client.The atmosphere was tense, the characters alert. The novel was off to a good beginning.

Till I read the first sign of trouble.
It had been a while since I’d tangled with another jacker, and I was out of practice. I hoped to stay that way.
Uh what? Does your client knows you're out of practice? Does he know you're putting his life at risk with your atrophy? You're a mindguard, Kira. You should not be out of practice.

Thus it didn't surprised me when Kira encountered a mindjacker and even though he was weak she had trouble confining him. She needed her father's help. It was also not a surprise that after the guy was caught her father directed Kira to go home.

Everyone Hates Mindjackers

Kira went home and then she went out to began her second job as a waitress.

At the diner, we learn people did not take the sudden public revelation of mindjackers from book 1 well. Everyone is a mindreader, but only a few are mindjackers. It's one thing to read minds, it's another thing entirely to control (or "jack" as the story terms it) minds. Things pretty much went as expected when a society discover a certain minority. Paranoia. Prejudice. Let's legislate segregation!

Thus introduced the villain, Senator Vellus. However, he wasn't a big problem for Kira yet. Her boyfriend Raf was.

Dude In Distress

After book 1, Kira's family moved away and lived under new identities. Apparently, they didn't move far away enough because Raf and his family came into the diner where Kira worked to her surprise. We soon learn Kira and Raf have been meeting secretly behind their parents' back.

I liked Raf but I thought it was one of the stupidest things Kira could have done by keeping in contact with Raf. She put her sickeningly sweet love for Raf ahead of everyone's safety.

Raf was only a mindreader and thus had no resistance to being jacked. He didn't even have any of those anti-mindjacking tools that were suddenly (and conveniently) invented in the past 8 months between book 1 and 2 to protect himself. Therefore, I was not at all surprised to learn Raf was jacked to trap Kira. The both of them were then kidnapped by returning villain, mindjacker clan leader Molloy.

In the entire story, Raf played no other role than as a dude in distress. He was always being knocked out and held hostage. It was painful watching Kira being her pathetic self as she do everything the antagonists demanded so they'll keep Raf alive as they "promised." Yes, because bad people keeps their promises. (sarcasm)
“Let Raf go.” I didn’t care that desperation crumpled my voice. “I’ll do whatever you want, just don’t hurt him.”

“Hurt him?” Julian stopped mid-chew. “I don’t think you quite understand the situation you’re in here.”
She sooooo didn't.

I pitied Raf. It was a WTF moment that Kira objected to others jacking Raf but she had little objection to jacking Raf herself. What kind of girlfriend was Kira that she had little scruple erasing her boyfriend's memories without his permission, even if she thought it was for a good reason. She was doing the things the mindjackers-hating bigots accused her and her kinds of doing.

At one point, I thought it was better for Raf to die than to go through any more crap because of Kira's incompetence. If Kira had stopped meeting Raf, they wouldn't be in this stupid situation that was the entire book 2: rescuing Raf from the bad guys.

Talk About Stupid

Kira got kidnapped (and Raf held hostage) because the rebel mindjackers needed her strong mindjacking talent — a talent she was totally rusty on — to break innocent mindjackers out of Kestrel's prison. FBI Agent Kestrel was the second returning villain from book 1. He was another mistake — beside Molloy — Kira made because had she killed or at least completely incapacitated him things wouldn't have been so shitty for her, for Raf, and for all the innocent mindjackers.

By shitty, I mean they were captured and experimented on. Though I will admit I was a little gleeful watching Kestrel experimenting on Kira. Even when she was being tortured, she still annoyed me with her incompetence.
“I’ll do whatever little demonstrations you want to prove it, but then you need to let us go—all of us.”
Kestrel never showed mercy and he wasn't going to start now. Was Kira so stupid that she didn't realize that her cooperation could possibly make thing worse? She had one of the most powerful minds in the world. If Kestrel could crack her mind, No One Will Be Safe.

I think maybe Kira was so mentally "talented" because she was literally that dense.

So frustrating it was for me to watch Kira failed again to kill Kestrel when she had the perfect opportunity to do so near the end of the novel. I could not believe she let her allies stopped her. Come on, the dude cruelly experimented on you all. Have some self-preservation instinct!

Mistakes after Mistakes

The plot had alot of action but it couldn't make it up for a pathetic protagonist. Kira got kidnapped three times. At least two of those times could have been avoided. Not meeting Raf for the 1st one. She should have at least scanned his mind and checked her surrounding before making out with him. Priorities, please! And not trusting strangers in a bad part of the town at night where everyone can jack your mind for the 2nd one. Seriously!

In a father-daughter talk, Kira didn't realize her father being an agent meant he could have killed people in the past. Her denseness astounded me. Did she not truly know what people in law enforcement do? Did she think her father carrying weapons and being all dangerous was just for look? Sweet Jesus Honeydews!

Speaking of weapons:
“It’s a fast-acting dart gun with four rounds, effective at more than one hundred meters,” he said. “You should be able to keep it hidden under your clothes, unless you’re patted down. Or did you want a more deadly weapon?”

It felt cold and plenty deadly in my hand. Anything more and I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull the trigger.
What, controlling people's mind isn't deadly? Really? Moreover, Kira should have demanded a more deadly weapon. They're breaking into what amounts to a dungeon where human experiments occur and shit. Four rounds is hardly enough, especially dart guns! Kira should have demanded a real gun, one with multiple rounds. When one is risking one's life, it's not the time to be queasy about arming oneself.

The one thing that got to me was Kira's lack of concern for her mother, Xander the changeling her family adopted, and her brother Seamus. I understood Kira's need to rescue Raf and herself because they were the ones in the most danger at the present. Nonetheless, once she knew her family's cover was blown she should have notified everyone so that they could find another safe place.

It was a big plot-hole. Kira was too occupied with Raf being held hostage that she forgot to realize she had other loved ones that could be potentially held hostage too. Quite frankly, I'm surprised they weren't. It was mind-boggling to see that her family didn't do anything to protect themselves once they realized their cover was no more. I was most disappointed with Kira's father who was supposed to be the smart one, being a competent agent and such, because he didn't take any measure to protect his family other than forming some sort of unholy alliance with Senator Vellus — the jury is still out on whether that was a smart move.

Things I Had Mixed Feelings About

To be honest, I didn't know what to make of the relationship between Senator Vellus between Kira's father. I'm not sure who was using who but it looked like Vellus had the upper hand.

In the middle of the story, there was an attempt to make another love triangle with Julian, another mindjacker clan leader. Fortunately, nothing ever came out of it. I liked Julian. I liked him enough that I won't have mind if Kira died in the middle of book 2 and the story started in his PoV.

Only one of three villains were completely defeated. I was satisfied with how that villain met his end, yet I was dissatisfied with how it was only him. I wished the story had at least two villains meeting their end.

The ending wasn't bad but it wasn't what I wanted. Kira started the mindjacker revolution in book 1. In book 2, she hardly care about it. To be fair, I understood her desire for a peaceful life after what happened in book 1. At the end of book 2, she was back on the revolution wagon. I didn't know what to make of it really.

In Conclusion

I rate Closed Hearts 2-stars for it was okay. I think book 2 would have been better if Raf was done away and Kira voluntarily help Julian with his goal. Rather Kira working in secret as a waitress, she could have been working as a mindjacker rebel, propelling the mindjacker revolution with Vellus as the main villain instead of a big distraction.

Readers who greatly enjoyed book 1 will mostly likely continue that degree of enjoyment in book 2. Readers who didn't or mildly enjoy book 1 will most likely not enjoy book 2. My recommendation: do read book 2 if you got the spare change and time. The novel is worth a read.

Amazon GoodReads

Post a Comment

You can also comment on the Goodreads version of my review. Click on the rating located in the beginning of my review to get to the webpage.