I have never read anything of Klavan’s in the past, but obviously recognized the name, as some of his previous works have been made into movies, such as True Crime (starring/directed by/produced by Clint Eastwood).
MindWar is the first book in what is called “The MindWar Trilogy” and centers around Rick Dial, a former star Quarterback who has been in a car accident, and now sits at home playing video games all day.
Rick is placed into an alternate Realm, in which his mind controls his (now fully-healthy) character, in an attempt to thwart a terrorist attack against America. The only thing with his character, is whatever happens in the gaming world, affects himself in real life….so if one dies, so does the other.
While this seems like a great plot for a book/series, instead of letting the character develop and turning into a hero in his own right, and saving the world through the Realm, Klavan keeps referencing back to the football life that Rick led before his accident, even though it all happened before the book began.
To give an example, from Page 291 (out of 319) he says:
Rick moved as fast as he could, spinning gracefully, swinging his sword. He could feel the power of his spirit coursing all through him. He could feel himself in full control of his body, the way he used to feel when he was on the football field.
All this made an already vague, and all-over-the-place book, feel more anchored down, as if everything depended on his football career (of which this book is in no way focused on).
When one still needs to be referencing such trivial things this late in a book, even after building up the character until this point (and trust me, we get it, he used to be a football player), it just feels like ideas have run thin.
Overall I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10, and am hoping that the rest of the series can kick it up a notch, or this trilogy will be a dud.