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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: Mind Games by Carolyn Crane

Title: Mind Games
Author: Carolyn Crane
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 03/23/10

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.

Plot: 4 Stars
I absolutely loved the world-building in this novel. Not only did we get a bit of history on Midcity's crime wave, but we also got to see many landmarks across the city and it's surrounding suburbs. Something about it just felt gritty and real. The highcaps, humans with mutations that give them extra psychic skills, were a fresh take on urban fantasy. How the dissillusionists used and controlled their fear was something so strange, it was complete genius.

Pace: 4 Stars
The first half of the novel was non-stop. I didn't put the book down unless I absolutely had to. But then the story took some turns that didn't seem completely necessary. I understood how they worked into the plot, but the scenes could've been tightened a bit and still come out just as effective. And after 350 pages of build-up, the climax and resolution was not the epic mayhem I was assuming would happen. There was a much calmer mood to the end of the book than what I expected.

Characters: 4.5 Stars
The author had such a realistic and fantastic grasp on the mind of a hypocondriac, that it left me wondering if she herself suffered from such mealth fears. If not, her research and insight into the human mind is superb. Besides Justine, we get a very good look at Packard and the targets he sends her after. Her interactions are both cool and composed, and nervous and spontaneous all at once. I just wish we could've seen a bit more of some of her fellow dissillusionists. It was slightly hard to keep track of them all when I didn't know much about them.

Cover: 4 Stars
I love the background of this cover. The twists and turns of the highway really represent the tangle of highways described in the book. It's not the most important detail, but it's definitely cooler than a no-name building that could've been anything. The cover model was a pretty acurate representation of Justine. I just didn't care for the huge knife she had on the cover because there was never a huge knife in the book.

Overall: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I bought this book for my own enjoyment.

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