A fascinating novel that plays with assumptions of ‘mind reading’ powers in stories, and explores the inevitable chaos of teenagers in a secondary school simultaneously developing the ability to hear thoughts.
When class 10B get their flu shots, they all start suffering from a strange side effect – they develop the ability to read the minds of those around them. It’s a disaster: people learn about secret crushes, a relationship betrayal is revealed and test conditions in class become a thing of the past. No one has any secrets and everyone knows everything about each other. As time goes on, certain advantages become apparent, but it gets harder to keep their ability a secret as they realise there are some people who not only know their secret, but are trying to track them down.
It’s a fun, clever novel. The focus shifts from class member to class member, with lots of different characters each supporting their own storyline. Unusually, but successfully, the book is narrated by ‘we’ – we never find out which individual is speaking, and you start to realise that maybe there isn’t one. This can lead to a couple of named characters seeming a little one dimensional at times, but it suits the story as the ‘hive mind’ of the class gradually develops. The ending is a true surprise.
It’s a shame that the cover of the book is so clearly aimed at girls, as the shifting narrative follows both boys and girls and should be able to enjoyed by teenagers of both genders.