Monday, August 2, 2010

Review: Mind Games

Book: Mind Games (Carolyn Crane)
Stand-Alone or Series:  Series,The Disllusionists Trilogy #1)
Pages: 371 
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Preview at Google Books

Description (From Amazon):  Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness—only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.

 I have read my fair share of Urban Fantasy books, yet I have never come across a book quite like Mind Games. I have read countless books about vampires, werewolves, witches and even the occasional demon, but these "disillusionists" are something else entirely. The premise of the book is simply amazing - a group of neurotic ragtag crime fighters inject criminals which their own specific brand of crazy (gambling addictions, alcoholism and constant hypochondria - to name a few) as a way to "disillusion" them. The said criminals are then reformed, and go on to live their lives serving the greater good.

I have not run into such a unique story in a long, long time. This storyline also lent itself to the creation of a colorful set of ingenious characters who are all extremely neurotic and a whole lot of fun. The main character - Justine Jones is the teams hypochondriac and often goes on health related rampages. She is beautifully written and contains so many endearing flaws that as a reader, you can't help but cheer her on. It also creates a huge amount of sympathy for her character - she reduces herself to committing questionable acts throughout the book, but because of her issues, you can see why she does what she does.

I loved all of the characters in the book, some more than others. I adore the character of Shelby, another disillusionist, who quickly becomes the best friend that Justine has longed for her entire life. She is the definition of quirky - she came to the states at 15(?) as a mail order bride from Russia and suffers from basically, extreme cynicism. I am also a huge fan of Packard; who is the leader of the gang and also one of Justine's love interests. Let it be know that my heart lies with the Justine/Packard pairing. He is mysterious, controlling and at times a bit psychotic - but they all are. That's what makes them so wonderful.

Like the story concept, the plot was highly imaginative. I often  thought I had everything figured out and then a huge curve ball was thrown my way. The plot is fast paced, but not rushed and eventful but not overcrowded. A lot happens within the book, but it never feels like things are happening too fast. I think this is because the character interactions are all in place and the relationships develop at a reasonable rate.

There are only two issues that I had with the book. The first problem I had with this story was with some of Justine's choices. I just did not always agree with her decisions and her quest live a perfect little life got on my nerves. I understand that she has spent her life being the exact opposite of normal, but still, it got a little irritating at times.

The second problem I had with this book, is that is got a little on the hokey side every once in a while. There is a lot of talk about Packard's "nemesis". The characters often throw that word around and it just rubs me the wrong way. I understand that there are heroic qualities to these characters, but does that make it necessary and acceptable to use a world like "nemesis" repeatedly? I think not. Might as well have everyone prance around in capes and masks. In fact, there is a character who shows up in a cape at one point in the story, come to think of it.

Overall,  thought it was a wonderful story. Like I said before, the premise was entirely unique and the book definitely keeps you on your toes. If you have been wanting to read a new kind of Urban Fantasy, then give this book a try!

1 comment:

Smash Attack Ash said...

Woohoo! This book is one wild ride and a wildly refreshing concept for the Urban Fantasy genre. I found it difficult to read the characters in this book - you don't know who the hell to trust! :)

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