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Mind Storm

Posted by Nick Sharps On Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The description of MIND STORM by K.M. Ruiz would have you believe that is a story about Threnody Corwin, a soldier-slave of the Earth government. Well, it is and it isn't. As it turns out Threnody is really more of a supporting character than a primary protagonist. The story is really about Nathan and Lucas Serca and a family feud that has the potential to burn the world to cinder. MIND STORM is what you get when you take the hard-edged, dystopian Science Fiction of Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels and spice it up with some psychic powers.

More than a century has passed since the Border Wars and the Earth is still in the throes of recovery. Much of the world is uninhabitable due to nuclear warfare and the populace is segregated by registered humans with clean genetics, the unregistered with "trash" DNA, and psions. Those fortunate few with a sparkling bill of health use the psions to enforce the law. Threnody Corwin is one such psion, a high-classed agent of the Stryker Syndicate with the ability to control electric with her mind. In the face of shifting alliances and with an iron-core of duty, Threnody must fight to secure a future for life on Earth.

Ruiz's vision of the future is a bleak one to say the least. Prejudice against gene-trash isn't only rampant but encouraged. The World Court has enslaved those with psionic powers and impels them into service with the threat of excruciating death. On top of this the government is less concerned with restoring the planet than it is with fleeing to the comfort of another world. It turns out that this authoritarian government isn't the only force in play, the Serca Syndicate has been secretly pulling the strings for decades. Behind the facade of human politician, Nathan Serca operates the infamous rogue psions known as Warhounds. Nathan is about to enact his own plans for survival at all costs, even if it means sacrificing his own family. The only person who can possibly stop him is his son Lucas.

Regardless of the book description, Nathan and Lucas are the main characters. Nathan is ice to the core, willing to sacrifice his own flesh and blood to further his agenda. Lucas is no basket of sunshine and flowers himself. He has no problem sacrificing others to meet his needs either, but his end goal is considerably brighter. Threnody and the others are just pawns of these two super powered sociopaths. More character development will be required before Threnody can outshine the others as a protagonist but the foundation is there to build upon.

This all makes for a great set-up but is hampered by some indelicate world building. I am pretty ambivalent about info-dumps. I prefer world building that is integrated seamlessly into the fabric of the story but I can stomach dense downloads of information when handled properly. Ruiz avoids the cardinal sin of massive amounts of exposition, but the info-dumps she does incorporate are indelicate and unwieldy. The world she has created has the gritty vibe of a Richard K. Morgan novel but lacks the little details. A lot of the explanation behind the Border Wars is unnecessary, readers could connect the dots without a load of exertion. While Ruiz details the life of the wealthy elite as well as the duties of psions of the Stryker Syndicate, there is a lack of focus on the gene-trash humans at the bottom of society. Later in the novel the Salvagers are introduces as allies of Lucas, and though they exist on the fringes of a crumbling civilization it never becomes apparent that they live much differently from the psions. Other than saying "ain't" the vocabulary of the Salvagers is identical to that of the World Court justices. An opportunity was overlooked to establish the world and culture that the psions are trying so desperately to rescue and create a striking contrast between the privileged and the less fortunate.

The psions, on the other hand, are a very well rounded creation. A lot of reviews propose that MIND STORM is X-Men meets Bladerunner. That's a fair enough comparison, though I see a lot more Bladerunner than X-Men. Critics overuse the X-Men comparison when it comes to books that involve super powered individuals (I, admittedly am in error of this as well). Yes, this book does have people that can control electricity/fire/gravity with their mind but it is all fairly grounded and limited by the world of the book. Ruiz also introduces some capabilities of mind powers that I had never considered, such as a sort of mind-radar that tracks the location of others with psychic abilities. The combat is brutal. There is no shortage of collateral damage. The psions carry conventional weapons to supplement their abilities but these prove little use when brought to bear against skilled opponents. What I appreciate is all the ways in which the psionic powers interact and negate each other. There are some grisly stalemates brought on by the nature of the powers and the ranking of the individuals.

MIND STORM has rough edges. The characters need to fill out, and the world building needs to be smoothed but I still read this book in two days, eager for more of that bloody psion on psion goodness. All the pieces are here for a dystopian science fiction thriller of epic proportions. Ruiz just needs to refine her craft and I am confident that the sequel TERMINAL POINT will be a big improvement.

Recommended Age: 16+
Langauge: F@#% yeah.
Violence: Duh! Why else would you have mind powers?
Sex: None

Want it? Buy it here.

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