Mind Games 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.

The blurb above is pretty thorough, but let me expand a little.  Packard is a high-cap, which basically means human plus (think X-Men), who can ‘read’ the make-up of your mind and see how you are wired.  He has used this ability to put together a team of flawed humans that fight crime by ‘disillusioning’ criminals.  Packard teaches people like Justine, who is almost crippled by fear of dying from a phantom vascular disease, to transfer these fears/flaws/urges to criminals, basically driving them to near insanity in hopes of creating a life-changing event.  Transferring Justine’s energy on a regular basis essentially saves her from herself, but Packard failed to mention that she will never be able to stop without turning into a vegetable.  Now trapped with Packard, Justine starts investigating his past in hopes of finding a way out, which leads her to some startling discoveries about him and the new local celebrity, Police Chief Sanchez.

The Good:  I like books that hang out in the gray areas.  Not that I don’t enjoy good ole good vs. evil, but it’s the gray areas that make you think.  Mind Games is firmly in the gray.  Justine and the other disillusionists are severely flawed people (gamblers, alcoholics, hypochondriacs) that basically attack people’s energies.  Their targets are criminals of varying degrees, but instead of striving to prove their guilt, they attempt to reprogram their brains.  Is this legal? Nope.  Does it work? According to Packard it does.  I liked the idea of not-so-great people fighting even worse criminals.  I also liked the idea of transferring your flaws to someone else temporarily.  Actually, I liked a lot of things about this book, especially the characters.  Unfortunately, the good things were overshadowed for me by 2 specific events.

The Bad:  So here I am, really liking this book, until about 65%.  **RANT ALERT**

I will give a mild spoiler here:  this is the part where Justine is kidnapped and almost violently raped by her latest target.  This part was so irritating to me, that I almost had another DNF on my hands.  I felt that this horrific situation was dealt with way too lightly, and that’s a lot coming from me!  So Justine manages to get free, zap her target with all her nervous energy and call for backup.  When back up arrives, she seeks NO retribution against this man who had her drugged and tied to a bed.  No calling the cops, no castration, oh no.  Disillusionment is enough for this guy; let’s just get him started on alcoholism sometime next week.  Ummm…I’m sorry, but I have huge issues with this.  I really don’t care for books that involve rape as I look to books for escape, but if it has to be dealt with, at least make it a pivotal plot point, not something that is just breezed over with almost sympathy for the attacker.   I mean, I get that these characters barely function as it is, but at least defend yourself or something!!  Okay, rant over.  Well maybe not.

The Bumpin’ Uglies:  **RANT PART 2**  Packard and Justine.  Such lovely sexual tension throughout the book.  And then…a crime against all smuttiness is committed.  Not only do Packard and Justine NOT act on this tension at any point in the book, but with 10ish% left in the book, Justine falls for another character out of nowhere!  Ugh.  To be fair, Justine and other guy have some super steamy scenes involving hot tubs and offices and such, but still!! I was all ready for Packard!  The path to redemption can only lead to a hot love triangle in future books, I will accept nothing less.  But if Packard/Justine is abandoned entirely? Not cool. 

Disclaimerlicious:  I realize I ranted a good deal about this book, but these were purely personal opinions about events in the book, not bashing the book as a whole.  Like I said earlier, I liked a lot of things about this book, and I know others really enjoyed it.  So check it out, and then come back and let me know what you thought.

Rating: 7


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mandi
    Jul 26, 2010 @ 11:37:23

    I liked reading your point of view! The kidnapping/attempted rape did not bother me as much as you – I get that she could have seeked retribution more..but I look at it as she knew this was the type of man she was going after – she is not necessarily an innocent in the situation..and there is a much bigger picture Packard is after…not just him. But I agree that the outcome could have been different!

    As for the end and who she actually sleeps with – holy crap!! I didn’t see that turn coming..which is why I loved the book so much. I would have NEVER guessed that is how it would have ended…BUT – this is a trilogy and if Justine and Packard don’t end up together..and have some massively good smexy time – I will be pissed. I need a naked Packard scene…just sayin’.

    Great review 🙂


  2. Kindlelicious
    Jul 26, 2010 @ 13:37:41

    Mandi–Okay, good to know I have two more books to get some Packard time. I agree, I didn’t see the ending coming, I just felt that it was a little rushed and such a massive departure from Justine/Packard. As for the kidnapping, have you read the Dark Swan series? Now THAT is the kind of retribution I was looking for! Hehe.


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