One of my recent reading resolutions was to branch out into new genres – I had great success with steampunk and decided to check out some urban fantasy while I was on a roll. Kickass heroines battling bad guys, plus a paranormal touch? Sure, sign me up! I chose to try Carolyn Crane's Disillusionists Trilogy after seeing several Twitter recommendations. Mind Games, the series' first book, was the perfect way to usher in 2012. I loved the quirky spin Crane put on the typical UF themes, and I'd definitely recommend it for others looking for an easy entry into the genre.
Goodreads summary: JUSTINE KNOWS SHE’S GOING TO DIE. ANY SECOND NOW.
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.
My thoughts: It took a bit of work for me to get into the book – like I said, I'm not totally comfortable with the genre yet – but once I bought into the premise, I had so much fun reading Mind Games. I don't think I've ever encountered a heroine quite like Justine. She's a rollerblading, ouzo-drinking, fashion-conscious hypochondriac with a highly developed sense of what is right. She's funny and brave and sensitive, but she's also kind of a goofball — case in point, the Gumby figurine she molds to match her moods. Crane gives us a first-person narrative, so we get special insight into Justine and all her glorious peculiarity.
Justine's new mentor Packard is a mysterious, sexy and possibly dangerous guy who's keeping a lot of secrets, and he's collected a crew of odd and endearing crime-fighters. Each engenders their particular vice or character flaw and matches their words to their actions so well that the book took on an almost comic book-like vibrancy. There were no 'POW!'s or 'ZAP!'s in the text, but I could practically feel them jumping off the page as I read — everyone seemed larger than life.
Don't get me wrong — this book is not all light and fun. There are victims with heartbreaking stories and vicious criminals who get away with far too much. Crane explores how so many people live their lives in prisons of their own making, and the question of how much freedom humans truly have comes up frequently. When Justine faces these people and questions, though, she does it with a sense of hope that keeps the book from becoming depressing.
Throughout Mind Games and the other books in the trilogy, Crane keeps the action fast and the plot twists coming. There is definite romance and some serious sexytimes, especially when Justine finds herself attracted to two different men.
If you're looking to try some UF yourself, I definitely recommend giving Mind Games a try. As for me, I'm now looking for other suggestions similar to these books. Anyone have a suggestion for where I should go next?
Publication Date: March 23, 2010
Length: 384 pages