Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Mind Game by Carolyn Crane


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 picked this up for my Mom at the Romantic Times Booklover's Convention earlier this year.(I even got it signed by Ms. Crane!) I've been waiting for my Mom to finish it so I could borrow it and I'm so glad I finally got to read it!

I love that Carolyn Crane has created a world with various shades of gray. Her characters' hidden agendas mixed with their special talents make for very unreliable characters. As a reader, I love stories that don't necessarily have clear cut heroes or villains. The world we live in is not black and white and, while I often read to escape the "real world", I love finding authors whose unique, complicated characters challenge me as a reader.

Even Justine questions the morality of the work she does for Packard. Are they providing a service the public by disillusioning criminals or playing god with their special brand of vigilantism? She's torn between believing in Packard and her own instincts about her most recent target Otto Sanchez, Midcity's golden boy Police Chief.

I love this this type of ambiguity and conflict in a storyline. It gives us readers a lot of fodder for coming to our own conclusions. Crane puts her characters in compromising situations, making questionable decisions and, in the end when the mystery is unraveled, we're still left with the sense that there are no easy answers, just shades of gray.

I loved Justine for the same reason I loved Chess in Stacia Kane's Downside series. Even though these characters are deeply flawed, they're unique, engaging, and their otherness challenges me as a reader. It's a talented author that can make a neurotic hypochondriac and a druggie ghost hunter unlikely heroines! Bravo, ladies.

As for Packard,I felt he had a bit of a Barrons-esque quality to him. Is he a good guy? Is he bad? For those of you reading Karen Marie Moning's Fever series,the mystery that is Jericho Barrons remains, however Packard's secrets are revealed only to remind us readers that he is neither a hero nor a villain but falls on the spectrum somewhere in between.

Possible Spoiler alert (highlight to read):

I'm gonna go ahead and officially say I'm team Packard. Even though Otto turns out NOT to be a psychotic killer, I don't care for him as Justine's love interest. In this world of gray, Otto is firm in the belief of right and wrong, black and white. With the kind of work Justine does I don't see this thing working out between them. I'm totally a Packard girl. The end.

I'm anxious to get a hold of Double Cross and read about the (mis)adventures of Justine and her fellow Disillusionists. I'm sure there aren't many of you out there, but if you haven't read Mind Games, what are you waiting for? It totally lives up to the hype!



  1. I've never even heard of this one before, but it sounds awesome, and I like how the author seems to have created a world you can be lost in. Awesome review, Mollie :)

  2. Thanks Melissa, I thought I was the last person to read this one! ;) It's definitely different and enjoyable!

  3. I'm glad you liked this one. Looking forward to reading book 2 myself. And - yes! You are on my team!

  4. Janicu, are there actually people on the opposing team?! HOW?! WHY?! :)

  5. "I loved Justine for the same reason I loved Chess in Stacia Kane's Downside series. Even though these characters are deeply flawed, they're unique, engaging, and their otherness challenges me as a reader."

    Couldn't agree more Mollie! That sums up beautifully how I feel about this series and the Downside Ghosts. And I'm with you on the highlighted section 100%:) Can't wait to see what you think of Double Cross!

  6. Great review, Mollie. I picked this up at RT as well, but still haven't read it... I guess I should now LOL.

  7. Jenny, I think my mom bought Double Cross so I'm going to try to read it over the holidays! Are you still coming tomorrow?! :)

    Nath, You should, I really enjoyed it! :D


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