by Karina Fabian
Release Date: 2011
Deryl Stephens’ uncontrollable telepathic abilities have landed him in a mental health institution, where no one believe in his powers. Joshua Lawson, a summer intern at SK-Mental Institute, does something no one else has ever done: he accepts Deryl’s reality and teaches him to work with it. As Deryl learns control, he finds his next challenge is to face the aliens who have been contacting him psychically for years–aliens who would use him to further their cause in an interplanetary war. The first in the Mind Over trilogy, from DragonMoon Press.
What a different, interesting approach to science-fiction! I know books like this are “out there”, but I can’t say I’ve stumbled across them lately… I tend to pick up the space operas, or Star Wars novels, or off-world ship stories. Fabian’s book is definitely not that—she’s crafted a psychologically driven sci-fi tale that centers heavily around character, as opposed to setting or massive world-building.
While the synopsis above focuses on the character of Deryl, I found that he was almost secondary to what was happening with the intern character of Joshua Lawson. There is a lot of character-building activity centered around Joshua and his past, his present internship, his techniques for dealing with clients, and his love interest.
Most of the time, I enjoyed this—I didn’t even mind the heavy focus on Joshua’s romance, though there were moments when I tried to mentally urge the book to get back to the sci-fi aspects instead—but I found the best parts of the book were moments when Joshua and Deryl worked through issues relating to Deryl’s psychic abilities.
These conversations formed the core of the novel, and made what could have otherwise been a very flat story turn into one full of life and conflict. I say “flat” because the vast majority of the book takes place inside the institution, and rarely ventures outside of those confines. It could have easily turned into a plodding, “day-to-day” rote with the occasional “ah-ha!” moment, but Fabian kept the story moving by revealing certain aspects of character and conflict at key moments.
Now, I know this is part of a trilogy, so there are more books coming that will presumably answer all the questions this one raised and DIDN’T answer. I was a bit disappointed that the focus on Deryl’s mental contact with an alien species didn’t get as much play time as the synopsis led me to believe it would. I wanted to see a lot more of this, and I’m hopeful that it’s coming in the next installment.
That said, I really liked that Fabian was able to believably incorporate the Catholic faith into the main character’s worldview—in a way that fit, really truly fit—as well as including characters of diverse ethnic background. It’s rare to see this done well these days (at least in the books I’m reading), it’s refreshing to see faith and ethnicity presented in such a natural, non-cliche/stereotypical manner.
Worth the read? You bet.
About the Author
Unlike her characters, Karina Fabian lives a comfortably ordinary life. Wife to Air Force Colonel Robert Fabian and mother of four, her adventures usually involve packing and moving, attending conventions, or giving writing and marketing advice in one of her many workshops. She’s always had an overactive imagination, however, and started writing in order to quell the voices in her head–characters who insisted on living lives in her mind and telling her their stories. Winner of the 2010 INDIE award, winner and finalist for the EPPIE and finalist for the Global e-book awards, she’s glad people enjoy reading the tales her characters tell. Visit her website at: http://fabianspace.com