Novel Review: Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

I’ll be honest. I grudgingly started Mind Games by Carolyn Crane. The cover didn’t attract me–no sexy half-clad men on the front, just a kickass gal with a knife. The back blurb wasn’t catchy. Hello? This didn’t look anything like the paranormal romances I loved to read. So, I avoided it. It certainly wasn’t a book I’d pick up in the bookstore. So you might ask why I bought the book in the first place. Well simple, it was recommended by twitter peeps. Stepping out of my comfort zone is hard a times, but I finally gave in and decided to give it a try. Before I tell you what I thought of this novel, let me provide the tidbit from Ms. Crane’s website:

Mind Games heroine Justine Jones isn’t your typical kick-ass type – she’s a hopeless hypochondriac whose life is run by fear.

She’s lured into a restaurant, Mongolian Delites, by tortured mastermind Sterling Packard, who promises he can teach her to channel her fears. In exchange, she must join his team of disillusionists – vigilantes hired by crime victims to zing their anxieties into criminals, resulting in collapse and transformation.

Justine isn’t interested in Packard’s troupe until she gets a taste of the peace he can promise. Soon she enters the thrilling world of neurotic crime fighters who battle Midcity’s depraved and paranormal criminals.

Eventually, though, she starts wondering why Packard hasn’t set foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant for eight years. And about the true nature of the disillusionists.

The first thing I noticed about Mind Games was the first person present tense narrative. Not a style I’ve seen often, so it immediately intrigued me. I have to admit, I didn’t really like the present tense. Each time I picked up the book after a break, I had to reorientate myself to the style. But that’s okay, cause the book itself made up for not conforming to my personal and highly selective preferences. 🙂

The entire book was one big surprise for me. It was like getting on a roller coast without the preview of the previous riders. Each turn was a thrill, and I never knew what to expect. Ms. Crane threw things at me that made me want to read more just to figure out the big picture. It was excellent! And the plot–what can I say about the plot. It was like an onion with each layer being peeled away piece by piece.

Justine was odd to say the least. 🙂 She definitely wasn’t the typical heroine with external issues ruining her life. No, Justine’s biggest problem was herself. Her obsession with vein star syndrome made her dysfunctional in so many ways, it amazed me she was able to live life at all. I absolutely loved this atypical heroine. She was refreshing and even a little bit wicked. In this novel, Justine has to dig deep to answer Jordan the Therapist’s question, “When is good not good?” It’s certainly a thin line.

As for Packard, the conniving bitch, he was a character I loved to hate even as I almost felt sorry for him but couldn’t quite muster the feelings. Throughout the novel, I couldn’t tell if he was a good guy or a bad guy. In the end, I just settled for the thin line, because he certainly walked it.

I also loved the group dynamics. The disillusionists were like a bunch of kids playing games–immature but full of good times while being naughty.

Anyway, there were so many great lines in this book, I had a hard time not choosing everything. 🙂 Well, here are just a few:

  • Justine’s boyfriend Cubby: Do you think you might have time for desert before you depart for the hereafter? The chocolate fondue looks excellent.
  • A fellow disillusionist, Shelby: If you become frightened, you can throw yourself out of the car.
  • A fellow disillusionist, Carter: You are a minion of Packard, Justine.
  • Packard: You spend so much time complaining about being my minion, it appears that you’ve forgotten that you are, in fact, my minion, and that you really do have to obey my orders. (My jaw actually dropped a millisecond before Justine’s jaw dropped. Seriously!)
  • Justine’s thoughts: Like a beggar, I soak up the last seconds of being near him.

Overall, this was a most excellent read! I felt like I was reading a comic book in novel format. Other times, it had me laughing so hard, I couldn’t continue because the tears blinded my vision.

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