January 16, 2013, 5 Star Review:
Author: Ted Krever
Genre: Paranormal (psychic ability), Thriller, Suspense
Length: Approximately 275 Pages
I have to say that I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of the Soviet Mind Control program that we heard so much about years ago. I always read books cold, without reading the blurb or reviews first. I like to form my own opinions about them, so needless to say, I was thrilled when I realized MINDBENDERS by TED KREVER covered this intriguing concept.
This book is full of amazing twists and turns that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, but what I liked most were the characters and the dialog between them that left me breathless at times. I became so invested in them. Gregor, who was an embedded reporter that is suffering from PTSD – Mr. Krever created a dream sequence that left me stunned and feeling as though I were right there with Greg when he was going through this horrifying moment in his life. This was so well written that I felt like I was intruding on a very personal and private moment in Greg’s life, to the point I was uncomfortable as if he knew I was eavesdropping on him. AMAZING writing.
The dialog was so spot on in this novel that I actually felt as though I were listening to the conversations between the characters rather than reading them. I LOVE it when that happens. Often times when I pick up a new author to read, it takes awhile to get into the flow of the writer’s words. That was not the case with MINDBENDERS. Mr. Krever’s ability to write the way people actually think in their minds and convey it in such a way that the reader is not just reading, but absorbed into the moment of the book was amazing, and really one of the first times I’ve come across it done so well.
I am not going to attempt to summarize MINDBENDERS by TED KREVER because so much was happening on every page of the book that there is just no way to do it justice. To put it in the simplest of terms, MINDBENDERS is about good versus evil, people using the power of hope to gain power over people. This is a book that I could talk about for hours.
I just found out that Mr. Krever is close to releasing MINDBENDERS 2: UNDER THE RADAR, and I can tell you, I will be all over that book. While MINDBENDERS tied everything up nicely at the end of the book, the ending left it wide open for the second book. I can’t wait to read it.
In “Mindbenders” I found some echoes of Jonathan Lethem’s book”Motherless Brooklyn”, which also features a man with a hazy and unusual past (and unusual “powers”) on a quest to unravel and stymie a mysterious plot that unfolds through his eyes. I read Lethem’s book in one weekend; Krever’s book held me to my chair for one marathon reading that rang my bells on every level and satisfied my voracious appetite for engaging, believable characterization and fast-moving story.
There really were American programs to explore the possible uses of “psychic” abilities in covert and illegal tests on humans, using substances and drugs, often without the informed consent of the subjects themselves. Among the subjects were author Ken Kesey and Unabomber Theodore Kaczinski. Kever extrapolates from these programs (most records of which were destroyed by order of then-CIA Director Richard Helms, in the face of a pending investigation) and spins an intriguing tale that explores the question of “what if…the experiments led to real and powerful abilities to monitor, predict and alter the minds of human beings? …what if there were several similar programs incubating around the globe? …what if someone turned these abilities to their own uses without scruple? In these days of global political turmoil these “what-ifs” are all too plausible, something Krever brilliantly explores here.
I understand there is a sequel in the works to be published later this year. Add my name to that waiting list.
The plot is well constructed, believable, yet brain-stretching, but Krever’s skill is in characterisation. His characters are rounded, and their dialogues (both external and internal) are interesting with a viscerality that is gripping.
I thoroughly recommend this over much of the tripe that is peddled as e-books!!!
Anyone who hasn’t read about the CIA’s experiments with mind control and alternate reality should at least do a couple of quick Wiki-searches on CIA Mind Control. The more you delve into the topic the more you will learn just how seriously our government (and others during the Cold War) took these things. And it’s upon this canvas that Ted Krever paints us this highly readable Conspiracy Thriller.
The story opens in the Florida everglades with the murder of an ex-CIA spy who was running a sort of group home for mentally affected vets of the Gulf War. Our narrator Greg was one such person. A one time journalist who no longer speaks or remembers due to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Greg witnesses the assassination of his mentor first hand. What Greg does not know is why this has happened or why a neighboring man suddenly shows up to rescue him, or why this man seems to be able to speak without using his voice, can render hostiles unconscious with taser like electricity from his hands, or why he can drive with his eyes closed and describe what is about to come way before it happens. Most disconcerting is the fact that Greg’s mentor has placed a list of other defunct agents from the CIA Mindbender programs inside of Greg’s mind that their neighbor Renn can unlock piece by piece. What ensues is an excursion up and down the East Coast rounding up psychic spies of various talents in an effort to save the world from a shadowy group of assassins bent on destroying hope.
Sounds messy, but the adventure suits Greg as he slowly comes out of his shell and rediscovers the power in words just as he discovers the innate powers within himself. With each page Greg grows more sure footed and, as our narrator, becomes more entertaining. His short, somewhat awkward descriptions that open the book become more verbose and chocked full of literary devices as the book continues. Which is not only a great device, but really helps move the story forward as our team of misfit psychics band together to attempt the impossible.
Mr. Krever is a skilled writer. What could have been a terrible mess ends up being entertaining and thought provoking. He is tackling some very big subjects while trying to maintain a thriller’s pace and, for the most part, he succeeds. There are times when he attempts to inject the science behind the powers that threatens to tip the balance the wrong way, but he manages to right the ship each time. His small band of psychics each have strong well developed personalities and they stand out as unique characters on the page. Many lesser authors would have focused so much on the powers that they would become the “characters” but Mr. Krever focuses on the person first, their talents second. He avoids the cliches that you expect to happen and churns out a page-turning yarn that will appeal to many.
This could have easily been a 5 star effort, but in my mind the ending could have been slightly stronger. I also would love to see a suggested reading list in the next Mindbenders (due in 2012) with some of the titles referenced by Mr. Krever. But really, these are very small complaints and I can promise you I will definitely be reading future installments in what I hope is a series.
Let me close by saying that I picked this title up free for the Kindle during Krever’s December 2011 giveaway. Add to that his e-mail offer that allowed anyone who picked up Mindbenders to receive a free copy of his critically acclaimed 9/11 short story collection “After” and you have the best deal ever on Amazon! Read Mr. Krever’s Amazon commentary on any book you purchase by him to find free offers, but above all, read Ted Krever, he is a talented author!
“Mindbenders” is about a group of loosely- (very) knit everyday folks who happen to possess amazing “psychic”powers including telepathy, thought control and psychokinesis. The novel starts when one of them, the sort of guardian of a semi-catatonic severely PSTD’ed vet gets murdered. One of the murdered guy’s psychic buddies, who turns out to be the end result of a long line of Soviet selective breeding program for psychic abilities, shows up and drags our hero, the vet, into an global, international conspiracy of corporate and governmental politics, mind control, murder and intrigue. Several of the characters are drawn clearly (along with their different interesting “gifts”) and the interpersonal relations feel genuine.
I have been trolling Amazon’s kindle offerings for a while, buying lots of inexpensive (and sometimes not-so-inexpensive) SF and fantasy offerings from indie authors. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But “Mindbenders” was a big win. Krevel can write, and can plot, and has a great sense of pacing. At 229 pages, you know that there is no filler. In fact, about 3/4 of the way through I was wondering if he could really pull it all together by the end, but he does, and in grand style. The writing is tight and taught, and there is just enough (good!) science and logic mixed into the paranormal to let one easily suspend disbelief and become totally immersed. Nothing in the plot or writing feels forced and everything flows smoothly. There are none of the typos, formatting errors and other major and minor gaffes that mar so many other indie pubs.
A great, fast read at a great price. 4.5 stars! I’m looking forward to more from Mr. Krever.
Highly recommended for all SF fans.
Ted Krever’s Mindbenders was a wonderful surprise. It took me all of two pages to get into it, and I was hooked through the end. The pacing is spot-on, alternating between exhilarating action and quiet, character-driven moments.
It’s a great bit of Psi-Fi, made better by the fact it’s both timely and relevant. Many (all?) of the government programs listed are real and the author has adapted their findings seamlessly into his writing. He manages to make the science behind it easily digestible, even going so far as to explain my urge to purchase a new SUV, despite having only three people in my family. Most importantly, he does all this without robbing us of character development.
If I had to complain about anything, it would be the end. Not that I found the conclusion unsatisfactory, but I wanted to spend more time with the characters. From the looks of it, the author is working on a sequel, so I suppose I’ll just have to be patient. As it is now, Mindbenders is a great book on its own and has the capacity to become a very impressive series.
Of course, there’s always the chance somebody out there is controlling my mind, compelling me to think this….
***** Does your mind belong to you?, September 10, 2011
MINDBENDERS by Ted Krever will make you wonder if your mind really does belong to you.
Gregor “Greg” Samsa is living in the Florida Everglades, suffering from a memory loss. His friend, Dave Monaghan, is murdered almost before his very eyes. A strange man, Mr. Dullas, who has visited the camp many times drags Greg from the house moments before it explodes in a ball of flame. Leary of the man who is forcing him to confront memories he has hidden the two begin a search for others like themselves and the killers of their friend.
Fiction entices the reader to suspend belief, but MINDBENDERS is so plauable it seems possible.
First rate action/adventure/thriller with twists, turns, suprises and a slam-bang conclusion. When you think you have the plot figured out, it throws you a curve of unexpected suspense.
Nash Black, author of SANDPRINTS OF DEATH
From the Paranormal Romance Guild, August 4, 2011:
MINDBENDERS - TED KREVER
Author: Ted Krever
Publisher: Ted Krever
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Disabled vet, Greg, lives a quiet life with “Uncle Dave” in the swamps of the Florida Everglades, until the night Uncle Dave is shot in the head while in the bath and Greg’s peaceful, quiet world is turned not only upside down, but inside out and front to back. Almost as soon as Uncle Dave is shot, the mysterious Mr. Dulles appears on the back porch, ordering Greg to gather his things and leads him away just as the cabin blows up. Now Greg and Mr. Dulles are running for their lives, trying to figure out why someone killed Uncle Dave, and picking up clues (and more strange people) along the way.
Greg soon discovers that Mr. Dulles has talents far beyond what can be imagined, no one can be trusted, and the world governments have hidden secrets that even were they to get out, no one would believe them. Can one slightly off center vet, one extremely dangerous man, and their merry band of misfits discover the bigger picture that lies beyond Dave’s death, and do it in time to save not only themselves but the world in the process? Hold on to your seats and prepare yourselves for a ride into the dangerous world of government secrets, smoke and mirrors and conspiracy beyond belief.
Told in Greg’s point of view, Mindbenders is well written, full of slightly off/snarky bits of dialogue, more than a little disturbing sights into the power of the mind and a grand suspense thriller all rolled into one. During the course of the book, Greg grows from a damaged man who literally can’t string two words together into the strong, self-confident reporter he once was. Slowly, mysterious Mr. Dulles’ past is revealed and with each step he reveals what he can do with his mind, and frankly it’s a tad bit scary. Along the way, fellow mindbenders are revealed, some good, some bad. To understand the plot of this book think Conspiracy Theory meets Men Who Stare at Goats, sprinkle in a little James Bond spy tactics, add in some Matrix sci-fi and mix with a little Bruce Willis/Angelina Jolie kick butt scenes. This is political thriller at its best, there are twists and turns, traitors, and always something else hidden behind door number two. There is a great cast of characters, good guys and bad guys, and some who you just aren’t sure what they are.
I enjoyed the heck out of this book, from the moment I picked it up I could not put it down. It’s not your typical spy thriller; it will make you think good and hard. While I did enjoy it, I have to admit that I was a little over-whelmed with the science bits. I’ve never been good with physics and neutrons and protons and such, there are a bunch of those here. The science aside, this was a book that met all my criteria for a good read – good character building, some action so you don’t get bored, a plot to make you think, a few laughs, a good villain and even an ending that will make you say “hmmmm”. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a political thriller that while it takes itself seriously, doesn’t take itself too serious.
Review by Penelope Adams
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild
Julie Dawson‘s review on Goodreads, Aug 25, 11:
Ted Krever’s Mindbenders is a brilliantly paced paranormal conspiracy thriller with an entertaining cast of characters and a plot that will keep you jumping from clue to clue to determine what is really happening. Former Soviet agent Max Renn was part of a secret mind control program that was dismantled during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Two decades later, his semi-tranquil life in the Florida everglades is thrown into turmoil when unknown entities kill his friend and force him to reassemble his pal’s old psychic squad to unravel the international conspiracy behind a host of high profile murders and strange events.
Though Max is technically the protagonist, the story is narrated by Greg, a vet who survived the battle of Fallujah with his body, but not his mind, intact. Greg’s ability to reason and articulate is severely crippled by post-traumatic stress syndrome. He is an amazingly well-developed, likeable, and engaging character, but a poor choice for a narrator. His often confusing and disjointed narrative style makes the already complex plot feel unnecessarily burdensome at times. There are points in the narrative where the reader has trouble following what is going on, not because of the plot complexity, but because Greg doesn’t coherently present facts. While this behavior is certainly in character, it makes him an unreliable narrator.
But Mindbenders is worth the extra effort required. The psychic element feels like an organic part of the story and not just a tacked on gimmick. Krever presents the nature of these mind-controlling powers in a way that is believable while avoiding the need to bog down the story with extensive explanations. The end result is a fully immersive experience that puts the readers right in the center of an elaborate international web of intrigue. Definitely a book that should be on the digital bookshelf if you consider yourself a fan of the genre.
This is that rare piece of fiction based on fact in such a way as to make the lines between the two seem to blur. Mindbenders is built on the work done by both the US and Soviet governments as they attempted to harness the most powerful instrument on the face of the earth – the human mind – as yet another weapon in their massive arsenals. More experimentation has been done in this area than most people realize, and Ted Krever obviously did his research very thoroughly before writing this book. In this novel, he deals with remote viewing, telepathy, and other things that some consider ‘tricks’ of the mind, but which many believe are far closer to reality than myth.
The novel is well written and well edited, with a storyline that takes hold in the first few pages and doesn’t let go until the plot has unwound in ways one would not expect. The characters are well developed, ‘warts and all’, as the saying goes. The story takes the reader from the swamps of Florida to the catacombs of Rome while dealing with life and death, and war and peace.
These are not, for the most part, ‘nice’ people, as their actions demonstrate, and they each have their inner struggles, their secret demons. When reading this book, I couldn’t escape the feeling that the potential reality lies close to the surface. Perhaps because it’s a subject in which I’ve long been interested, but I couldn’t read it without knowing that while it is fiction, and a fascinating story, the underlying dynamics are all too possible.
This is a novel, a story that came forth from the mind of the author and found its way to the pages of a fascinating book; however, one of the most interesting aspects of the story is that it is not so far from reality that something very much like it could not happen. The story shows how powerful forces of the mind could be used for overwhelming evil or redemptive good, and we can but hope that the latter would triumph in any battle between the two.
The ending certainly is an ‘ending’, but I see plenty of room for a sequel one of these days, if the spirit moves Mr. Krever, and we are fortunate enough to have him write it. I was sorry when it ended, which I think is the way I want to feel when I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble on a really good book.
Amazing, science fiction meets fact – MUST READ!!, June 25, 2011
This is only the very beginning of “Mindbenders,” a story in which science fiction and fact combine (and which is based upon real events and programs). Mindbenders are people who are able to affect things with their minds – mostly through mind reading and affecting other people’s thoughts. Dulles – Max – turns out to be a particularly powerful mindbender with a checkered past. Dave, it turns out, has used Greg as a vessel – storing information subconsciously in Greg’s mind that Max and Greg must use in order to answer their questions. Initially seeking only to understand Dave’s killing and why it happened, Max and Greg discover they must combat a group of other mindbenders that threaten the whole world in their lust for money and power. They seek out others to help them, achieving a final count of four people – Max, Greg, Kate and Mark – against a vast, multinational conspiracy.
I was enthralled by this story and absolutely devoured it. It is fast-paced, exciting and yet allows for good character development and back-story. The author – Ted Krever – cleverly uses run together words and phrases to create ideas, such as an instance in which Greg thinks he would need a degree in “Idontknowwhat” in order to understand a situation in which he has been placed. Mr. Krever also has a good grasp of character dynamics and the interactions between his characters is realistic and interesting.
Overall I must say I was mightily impressed. I can recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good thriller, suspense science/science fiction story, which covers a lot of people. In fact, anyone who enjoys a good tale should give this one a try – I think you’ll be as impressed as I was!
Greg is a vet suffering from debilitating memory loss. The man who took it upon himself to help him through, possibly draw out the memories and his voice, is suddenly killed. Now, the only person left to trust is the man who tells Greg that he is a map of sorts. A map of the locations of the people who once served the government as mindbenders. A defunct program with a lot of loose ends.
Greg and Max follow a path that leads them to a disturbing reality. Someone wants to kill hope, the most important of all human emotions; the one that keeps people going in their day to day lives. Rounding up a small team of people who share their desire to set things right, they piece together the clues and ready themselves for the final showdown.
In Mindbenders, Ted Krever takes the reader on a fantastic journey of the mind. His characters unfold and expand, keeping the reader riveted, turning the page to see how they grow. His suggestions of what governments are willing to do to breed the best possible weapon are disturbing but yet – believable. The search for power, greed, and control is too much temptation, and when others who are like Max decide big business is more lucrative than helping governments succeed, the world is trouble.
Ted Krever had me hooked from page one. Throughout the book, the reactions, the feelings of the characters, all seemed real. I felt their discomfort, their reluctance, and I felt their minds growing and blossoming into the people they needed to become. Mr. Krever’s writing style is clean and concise, and his ability to describe what is happening keeps you in the moment, able to understand how the characters felt or reacted – “Well, I’m not comfortable running away without a good reason,” Fine answered, speaking slowly, biting each word off as if they came a la carte.
Mindbenders is an incredible read and I was recommending it to others before I even finished reading it. I loved the characters with their flaws and their quirks. I loved the action and the way the characters used their powers. The idea of people like this actually existing in our reality is disquieting, to say the least. Ted Krever’s world is a scary one, but one you shouldn’t miss reading about.
This book deserves every bit of the five stars I give it.
Jan Buck‘s review -Jul 07, 11
Mindbenders is one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve read in a long time. From the fast paced beginning to the last revelations, I couldn’t put it down. Simply put, the plot is fascinating, the characters well-drawn, the narrator fresh and intriguing.I won’t give you spoilers, because I think others have adequately sketched the plot. This is one story you’ll want to discover the details for yourself. Mindbenders has something for everyone – science fiction, paranormal fantasy, thriller. It doesn’t matter whether you believe these programs once existed. You’ll believe in these characters.
I hope there is a sequel coming and that Mr. Krever won’t keep us waiting too long.
I got this from the author in a giveaway. I thought it sounded interesting but really it was not my first choice type of read. I was blown away by it! It is an awesome book. At times it was difficult for me to read. One of the characters was a vet suffering from PTSD. My son was in Iraq 10 years ago. Some of the scenes with the character of Greg brought back all the worry and fear. This is a fascinating book that is fiction based on fact. Ted Krever did an outstanding job! Read it even if it isn’t the genre you usually read.
And, not only is this a great tale, it is BEAUTIFULLY written. Which in itself is pretty unusual in the genre.
The other reviews say it all. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Read it!!