I’ve had this book on my radar for a while, but never got around to reading it until I met Carolyn at Authors After Dark. Well, it also took a little nudge from Binah to get me to move my ass and pick it up. Specifically, it took Binah telling me three to five times a day every day for a week and then forcibly putting it into my hands to get me to bump it up in my queue and read it.
What the hell was I waiting for? This book is pure awesomesauce.
Justine is a hardcore hypochondriac. She’s positive that she’s going to die via vein star syndrome, just like her mom. Her medical bills from all the late night trips to the ER are sky high. Her boyfriend is on the verge of leaving her. The fear is paralyzing her, ruining her relationships and her life.
When presented with a way out from the fear controlling her life by an intriguing and mighty sexy dude, she takes his offer to help—in the form of becoming a member of his team of disillusionists. For great heaping gobs of money, they “disillusion” criminals of their justifications and reasons for acting evil, break down their mental defenses, and force them to face who and what they really are. By doing so, it destroys the criminal’s life of crime, and “reboots” them into a moral person who wants to right the wrongs they committed.
As Packard’s minion, Justine works with a small team of other people who suffer similar mental problems, and she learns how to “zing” a target by infecting them with her own hypochondria. Every zing leaves her clean and free of fear for a time and brings the target that much closer to breaking down so they can regain their humanity. As soon as her misgivings start to come back, all she has to do is zing a target again, and she’s “cured”.
The only catch is that once you start, you can’t stop—and there are only certain people she’s able to disillusion. If she zings the wrong one, she’ll become a vegetable. She’s left at the mercy of Packard to find out who the safe targets are. He isn’t the savior from that path to certain death Justine thought. In fact, she can’t even be sure all of her targets are as evil as he says.
MIND GAMES is an apt title for this book. It’s hard to detail why without giving away more than I already have. Carolyn has built a delicious, rich world, one which I am very much looking forward to delving back into in the next installment—very soon. Though I’m decidedly curious if there will be another cucumber mention… *cough* Whether you end up on Team Kabob or Team Cucumber (or, like me, Team Noncommittal), it’s impossible not to get sucked into this book. The twists, turns, and surprises are fantastically executed and had me hooked from the get-go. I can’t wait for the next book!