Mind the Gap 1 by Jim McCann, Rodin Esquejo, Sonia Oback

The stunning cover image really drew me in, promising what I hoped would be an intriguing story. Unfortunately, a very slow and tangential pace combined with flat/unrealistic/uninteresting characters ensured I never really engaged with Mind The Gap. Half way through, I stopped reading and started skimming; the plot remained too vague and so twists lacked impact or impetus, failing to push a nearly non-existent central mystery forward.

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Story:  Elle is in a coma; yet she still thinks and reasons within her trapped brain. She’s not sure what is real or what isn’t – only that she needs to figure out what happened to her: how she ended up abandoned with a serious head injury at a metro station. Along with a cast of characters in her brain, a mysterious killer on the prowl, and the ability to enter certain comatose bodies, she’ll have to figure out a way to get back to consciousness in her own body. Meanwhile, a doctor and her friends are suspicious about the circumstances of her injury and the hospital caring for her – and they will start to uncover anomalies and mysteries that could endanger their lives as well.

This really should have worked – a nuanced plot with a lot of mysteries and puzzles to be slowly unveiled as Elle and her friends work their way through the situation. But right off the bat, I didn’t like Elle and so had a hard time understanding why her friends were so dedicated to her. In all honesty, her friends were far more interesting but had little to do in this first volume except flail around and provide context for Elle’s unusual family.

Where this book really gets it right, however, is diversity of characters. Elle herself is part Asian and the suspicious doctor in a same-sex relationship. That made the story feel modern and realistic (even if the mother is too ‘tiger mom’). But other nuances, such as random cultural references in Elle’s mind from Pink Floyd’s Money to the Bee Girl, distract rather than add to the story.

The Illustration work inside is clean but also fairly simplistic. There is a lack of background detail that definitely prevents clutter but also takes away depth and interest. The clinical green motif wears after awhile when a background consists only of a blank wall or a window shade. The art feels very digital and clinical itself.

So although not a terrible title by any means, the lack of impetus, focus on tangents in Elle’s mindscape rather than plot or character, and simplistic illustration meant I never really had a chance to become engaged. To be honest, I was bored by the story rather than intrigued.

Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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