So. Justine is just your average hypochondriac before she is roped into a band of crime-fighters whose superpowers are the ability to feel really, really negatively about something. They fight crime by zinging (that’s the technical term) their neuroses into a criminal, and then the criminal has a breakdown and it’s actually pretty elaborate and awesome because he comes out the other side a less criminally person. And the head crime-fighter boss, he’s trapped inside a Mongolian restaurant. Because this is set in a world exactly like ours except that there are telekenetics and shit walking around, and people can be trapped inside Mongolian restaurants.
Ok, so now Justine’s part of this do-goodery group, except that there is Something Big lurking in the background and Questions to which one must find Answers and there is a Nemesis and some Romantic Interest and a bit of Introspective Ruminating on the Nature of Good and Evil and there are kebabs. Many kebabs.
And you all know that a great plot will only carry my undying love so far, but Mind Games is full of clever little writerly flourishes. Not toiling, overwrought Jodi-Picoultian ones, either, but conversational ones like when Justine (who is only sort of ‘middle-pretty’) is trying to describe the way this guy is looking at her and she’s like, ‘It’s almost like he beholds me.’ Which I get. Or when Midcity is described as a place that ‘makes a lot of things that go in other things,’ which is way less lame than just saying ‘Midcity = industrial.’
And it’s nutty in parts, but it’s sort of self-referentially nutty as though it saw its own conventions and exploited them. Like, the head boss is always saying these cliched dark-lordy things, and then Justine makes fun of him for saying cliched dark-lordy things so it becomes a Thing That He Does and it’s amusing, and then later he is able to say some really powerful and resonant things that would otherwise ring hollow because they happen to also be dark-lordy and cliched.
I sort of wish I didn’t know Carolyn at all so that I could tell you how much I objectively loved this book’s face without having to taint it with my pile of biases. But if I didn’t know La Crane I wouldn’t have picked this up, and that would have been a sad day in the land of Potential Good Times. It’s winsome and lovely, but it isn’t just winsome and lovely, and somewhere around the middle it takes a turn for the delightfully dark without losing any of its readabilityness.
Requisite ass-covering: I bought this for my ownself with my ownself’s money, and I am going to go make out with it now.