Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

For the past couple of years now, I've been a devoted reader of Carolyn's always unpredictable yet truly hilarious blog The Thrillionth Page. Some of my favorite posts include how to tell if you are a literary Little Red Riding Hood or a Cinderella (I'm a Cinderella), and a very definitive gift guide for what NOT to buy a vampire or werewolf. Ahem. Like I said, always unpredictable. So it's safe to say as soon as I learned that Carolyn would be publishing her very own, very shiny Urban Fantasy novel, Mind Games, I just knew I'd have to get my hands on it. If only for a chance to delve deeper into the mind of such a entertaining woman. Truly, Carolyn Crane's humor is one-of-a-kind.

Having lived on the outskirts of normality her entire life due to a eccentric father, Justine Jones would like nothing more to be normal. It's why she's worked so hard for the perfect job and the perfect boyfriend, Cubby. But the one wrinkle in her otherwise neat and tidy life is a severe case of hypochondria. Severe to the point of obsession actually. Justine is sure she is going to drop dead at any moment from the same rare condition called vein star syndrome that killed her mother years before. Knowing that her preoccupation with the disease is going to wreck her life but unable to do anything to stop it, Justine simply continues forward until a simple dinner with Cubby changes everything.

One minute Justine is sitting there, enjoying a cozy dinner at Mongolian Delites and in the next, she's meeting the magnetic and steely manager, Sterling Packard. Not such a chance encounter she'll will soon discover. Packard reveals himself to be a highcap, or a human with a rare supernatural ability - his being able to see directly into the emotions of anyone. After taking a glimpse at Justine's neurotic, illness-obsessed mind, he's decided to recruit her into his elite band of crime fighters called the Disilluosinists. Their specialty is to take down those criminals who the law has a hard time pinning down by debilitating them with each of the Disillusionist's own 'specialty' (aka: their particular brand of crazy). Gambling, hypochondria, low self esteem - the Disillusionists hit hard and enjoy an extremely high success rate. Justine isn't too sure about turning vigilante but as she ventures deeper and deeper into the criminal maze of Midcity, she'll quickly learn that innocence and guilt are not so black and white as she thought.

To start things off, I have to go ahead and say that Mind Games is unlike any other Urban Fantasy novel you've probably ever read. Ever. It's part sci-fi, part fantasy, a whole lotta noir thriller thrown in for good measure, and multiple parts humor. Hold on people.

First off, Justine is unlike any other UF heroine out there. Instead of flashing on the scene fists flying ready to take 'em all down, she's a literal and complete mess. Her hypochondria is gonna land her in an institution any day now but it's not until Packard takes a deep look into her mind and sees her willingness to stand up for justice despite her fears does she get a chance to find her own hidden strengths. And then begin to use those strengths. I loved watching Justine learn to develop her abilities while interacting with her fellow Disillusionists. All of whom alternately either gave the willies or had me cheering loudly - sometimes both at the same time. Mind Games is one of those novels that simply defies classification. One thing for sure however, it boasts an impressive twisty, turny psychological storyline (complete with some truly nasty villains) which stunned me with each new revelation and left me clamoring for more. I just knew it was gonna be good. And it was.

series reading order:
~ Mind Games
~ Double Cross (September 2010)

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
All Things Urban Fantasy review
Angieville review
Babbling About Books, and More! review
The Book Smugglers review
SciFiGuy review

book source: my local library


Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Thank you for doing what you do!

Bill ;-)
Author of "Back to the Homeplace"

Chachic said...

Oooh this one looks interesting! I have to keep this in mind when I'm looking for urban fantasy novels. However, the Kate Daniels series is pretty high up on my wishlist so I might get that first before looking for other urban fantasy options.

Michelle said...

Bill - Thanks for stopping by!

Chachic - Ok so this one is good, but I agree that you MUST track down the Kate Daniels books. The are just perfect.

Angiegirl said...

This one was good, wasn't it? :) I really enjoyed it, especially the ambiguity re: Packard, Otto, etc.

Chachic, what Michelle said. Get thee to Kate Daniels NOW.

Michelle said...

Angie - The fact that nothing was completely black and white was very intriguing. It was a fun read. And I knew I could count on you to support me in the Kate plug ;)