Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a fantastic new YA dystopian novel from Susan Kaye Quinn. BROKEN WIDE is the sixth book in her MindJack series and the last book in the ZEPH trilogy. You can start the whole series with OPEN MINDS, which is free and fantastic, but you absolutely must read LOCKED TIGHT and CRACKED OPEN before jumping into BROKEN WIDE.
About the book:
All he wanted was peace; all he had was hope.
Zeph had spent half his life hiding what he was—keeping his mindjack powers away from dangerous men and running away from everyone he loved to keep them safe. Now that his life is finally coming together—his mom and sister are safe; the girl he loves in his arms—the world is falling apart. The mindreader backlash against jackers is growing daily. Jacker-bigot politicians are stoking fear and gaining power. And jackers on the Fronter’s Purity list are winding up dead on the streets outside Jackertown.
Even the Jacker Freedom Alliance is tearing itself apart.
All Zeph wants is a chance to build a life with Tessa—but even she is losing faith. If there’s no peace between jackers and readers, what future could they have? Then a protest goes terribly wrong, the president starts talk of a Jackertown siege, and a MINDWARE CEO races to develop a dangerous mind-blasting technology. It seems foolish to even hope for peace, but one thing becomes very clear—the only way to put the world back together is to bring down the powerful people breaking it apart.
The conclusion to the bestselling Mindjack: Zeph series, where daring to hope for peace could be the most radical—and dangerous—move of all.
This is the sixth book in the MindJack series where humans have evolved the ability to broadcast their thoughts–but the new wrinkle is mindreaders who can hijack your brain. These “mindjackers” are a super powerful minority, being hunted for experimentation and extermination. And Zeph, a “locksmith” mindjacker who can lock and unlock the toughest minds, will do whatever it takes to keep himself and his family safe.
In LOCKED TIGHT, book four, Zeph allied himself with some horrifying persons in the government and private enterprise–people who truly want to hunt down and kill “jackers”–in order to find his missing sister and parents. He’s also infiltrated the jacker population, attempting to get close to the young, powerful and charismatic jacker senator. Hiding his jacker nature from readers has made Zeph a loner, by necessity, and his plan to rescue his family and go back on the run is upset by the new connections he’s made. What if there could be a balance between the jackers and the readers? Could he then find sanctuary instead of isolation?
In CRACKED OPEN, book five, Zeph went undercover as a mole to discover what he could about the anti-jacker technology being mass-produced by MindWare Tech. Working as a bodyguard to the company CEO’s daughter, Zeph gets a front row seat to the danger–especially because his protectee is in love with a jacker, and determined to overthrow her corrupt father. Meanwhile, Dr. Wright, directer of the government’s super-secret jacking lab, is coercing Zeph to take part in a scheme that will tip the balance of power further into anti-jacker territory. Working with the Jacker Freedom Alliance as a mole helps Zeph keep many jackers safe, but it’s a tenuous time and it seems as if all hope might be soon lost.
But, as we all know, hope is a force that wins hearts, minds and battles. Hope is the foundation of BROKEN WIDE.
Fundamentally, the MindJack series is about discrimination, and surviving intact after the powerful have sought to crush you. It’s a timely allegory to the current political climate where discrimination by the government (of any marginalized community) is lauded by people who have fear or prejudice ruling their emotions. For readers, it’s a chilling journey into discovering what the experience might be for a marginalized population. The government has ideologically decided that jackers are Public Enemy Number One, and need to be studied and eradicated. And yet, throughout, it’s a humanizing story. One of hope and desperation, and succeeding against all odds against your most feared, armed, bully.
BROKEN WIDE is the final book in Zeph’s trilogy, and it’s a terrifying ride. He’s desperate to save the people he loves, but soon realizes the plan to eradicate all jackers will lead to more broken families and dead teens–murdered by the purity-minded Readers First Front and sanctioned by the government. Terrified families are listing their jacker members in chat rooms based on the paranoia the government keeps propagating. Despite the danger, Zeph heads back into the chilling Tiller mansion, masquerading as a reader while helping Juliette Tiller find as much evidence as she can on her father–while also gaining intel on the planned attack on JackerTown, and the technology Tiller’s company has built. They need to find weaknesses that jackers can exploit.
Dr. Wright, an unwilling associate of Tiller, agrees to not out Zeph as a jacker, if Zeph will use his jack ability to make mind-blasted super jackers Wright calls “Obedient” for an army that she alone can control. It’s a sick bargain, but it’s the only way to stay alive in the Tiller home. Not that they can stay for long. Tiller’s plans for Zeph and Juliette are straight out of a nightmare, and their need to remain intact soon overcomes the need for intel. And, they leave not a moment too soon. Jackertown, a safe zone for jackers buried within the metro area of what was once Chicago, is under siege. If they are lucky, Zeph might save a few of them with his mindlocking gift.
This isn’t the end of the road, however. No. Zeph’s determined to turn the anti-jacker hysteria with a hefty dose of truth. His surreal experiences take him to the highest levels of power, and he looks true evil in the face. Even as he promises to build more Obedient for the government, he knows he’s going to honor his vow to restore jackers to equal standing–fellow humans with what can be new and helpful gifts. Connecting with the Jacker Freedom Alliance and the mindreading Free Thinkers helps Zeph get the truth out at exactly the right time. Not that anything goes to plan. Still, Zeph’s never thought of himself as a hero–he only acts like one every day, and all the time. Even as he’s making the difficult decisions, it’s all in the hope that he’ll get just far enough to make good on his vow, and protect whichever vulnerable people he can, in whatever way possible. That he finally gets a happy ending is only the sweetest part of the whole series so far.
Get yourself a FREE book!
The MindJack universe began with OPEN MINDS, the story of Kira Moore, a sixteen year-old jacker learning about herself and prejudice she’s been born into. Kira is a strong MC, and her steadfast commitment to doing the right thing, even if it’s hard, gives readers a protagonist worthy of respect. It’s a super-fast read that tackles real societal problems with grace and confidence. I read this book in a day. Mostly because I couldn’t stop until I knew Kira was safe.
The great thing? OPEN MINDS is a FREE on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, GooglePlay and Kobo. OPEN MINDS is the first in a trilogy, but has a satisfactory ending that resolves completely while leaving room for the companion books to develop.
About the Author:
Susan Kaye Quinn is a rocket scientist turned speculative fiction author who now uses her PhD to invent cool stuff in books. Her works range from young adult science fiction to adult future-noir, with side trips into steampunk and middle grade fantasy. Her bestselling novels and short stories have been optioned for Virtual Reality, translated into German, and featured in several anthologies.
She writes full-time from Chicago, inventing mind powers and dreaming of the Singularity. You can find out what she’s up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!).
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!