This is Macdonald’s first novel and I must say for a novice he did pretty well. The literary style reminds me of the German authors Hermann Hesse and Gunter Grass. The Mind Game is a book written with the sole intention of messing with the reader’s mind.
It documents in rather vengeful detail the perils of a young Oxford undergraduate student (Ben Ashurst) as he is used as a guinea pig in an elaborate experiment designed by a hot-shot scientist on a quest to design an algorithm that detects and manipulates emotions. To make things interesting a hot dame (Cara) is thrown into the plot and given the role of propelling the story forward through her depiction as a mirage Ben is meant to view as reality. The entire book reeks of deception and betrayal. Expectations and paranoia drive the plot to a point of madness. Over and over again it appears Ben continues to lose everything; love, sanity, friends and everything in between.
Unlike Hesse and Grass who made this genre great, The Mind Game falls far short in its attempt at justifying every vector taken in the voyage of the inner workings of the human mind. In other words it is just too ludicrous. I got the feeling of reading a succession of short stories with no happy endings that were pieced together to form an amalgamation of narratives that barely pass as a collective work commonly termed as a ‘a novel’.
It makes for a good beginner’s taste of the larger and most accomplished works of this genre. It was certainly a good effort and not giving its author due credit for this work is just plain malice which I choose not to be a part of.