Beta reading of “Mind Captive” by Jenni Curtis

What makes a story about an alien invasion so terrifying? Is it the other-worldliness of it all? The extraterrestrials in Alien or Ender’s Game or even Men in Black are slimy or have tentacles and fangs and the like. But my wife Jenni has written an invasion story that doesn’t rely on any of those tropes and yet is terrifying in its own way. In Mind Captive, we are introduced to a world enslaved by the Riven, an alien race about which we really don’t know much about. At least in this first book, the only real aspect we learn about them is their telepathic connection to humans. And this is what makes it so terrifying, and which defines the conflicts of the book.

We experience this world through the eyes of the two protagonists, Shay and Kels, two teenagers flirting with each other between waiting tables in an otherwise normal-looking restaurant. But when your every thought can be read by both your boss and your customers, the similarities stop there. You aren’t only the enslaved waiters and the cooks and the hosts– you are the entertainment too. The diners re-visit the restaurant because this little romance is too cute. But not all Riven are benevolent nor paternal, and your life can change in an instant if your boss decides to sell you. In this respect, the book shares many tropes with slave narratives, as well as survivor stories from the Holocaust. For the most part this is implicit, but historical references will sometimes crop up. This interaction with history gives the book another layer of complexity that engages the audience.

The book achieves a beautiful balance of adventure, romance, charm, and philosophy for such a quick read. I do hope there is room for a second!

You can find the book on WattPad.

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