My Rating:4.5 stars: Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A)
This book is amazing. There. Said it. If you haven’t picked up Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionists Trilogy, do yourself a favor and go get Mind Games now. And while you are at it - just pick up the entire series (three books) because you will not be able to stop after the first book.
The story takes place in the heart of Midcity, a twisted urban metropolitan, where a secret group of individuals, the Disillusionists, are learning to debase and reset dangerous criminals. Their teacher and leader, Packard, teaches his gang how to transfer their negative (and extreme) emotional darkness into others, causing the victim to question who they are and see their crimes in a new light. Packard, however, is trapped in a restaurant by his mysterious nemesis and will do whatever it takes to get free.
In addition to the Disillusionists, there are “high caps,” high-brain capacity individuals that have X-men type powers - telekinesis, precognition, memory revision. The general population doesn’t really know if high caps exist. Packard is a high cap who can read a person’s psyche.
Packard discovers Justine - an extreme hypochondriac, whose fears are so intense, she rates as a prime candidate to become a Disillusionist. Packard sucks Justine into his world, and she goes screaming and kicking almost the entire way.
Justine is a conflicted woman. She craves normalcy, but isn’t truly happy without challenge. Her emotions run both sides of the coin. Her beliefs follow her gut instincts, which can change depending on circumstances. I love that she is flawed and deals with her crazy life by making choices that I could see me making if I were in her shoes. She isn’t wishy-washy in the least, yet she can change her mind based on emotional feedback and her own her own moral compass. In the end my heart aches as she must constantly pick between safety and adventure.
Justine and Packard are hot from the start... they have so many “special” shared moments, and I enjoy their way with each other. Although I’m not sitting in the booth with the two of them, I can feel their connection, and I get it when Justine talks about how they have “those moments.” But it’s their stollen kisses, which are amazingly written, that steal my heart and gets it racing every time.
I love Ms. Crane’s humor and voice that she uses with Justine. Let me share this example - one of my favorite lines in Mind Games:
“...being near him makes me feel intensely alive, as usual. I remind myself that feeling alive is not always a good thing. People feel intensely alive during hurricanes and wars.”
The cast and crew of characters is a hoot. And just when I think I’ve got a character nailed, Ms. Crane tosses a curveball. She gets me to not like Packard and cheer for “the other man.” It never feels fake - rather she writes Justine’s point of view so convincingly, that I too became highly confused. And man, did I get so angry with Packard because of the things he did to Justine.
Overall Mind Games is an amazing book and the start of what will prove to be the most addictive series I’ve read since Twilight or Harry Potter. I consumed all three books in days. Ms. Crane’s characters are ones I want to get to know and hang out with - even the shady ones. Her mythology is fresh and exhilarating. Go read this book now!