The theme: a RITA nominee or winner. I’m fudging here, because I’m just too damn busy to start another book. This wasn’t a nominee, but the author did win a RITA recently, and the first for a self-published book! So we’ll just say this is in honor of that.
Why this one: I was sick of historicals and contemporaries, and this was one of my TBR books I really did want to read.
I can see why this received so much good buzz, because the premise is not only unusual and intriguingly full of moral ambiguity, but will leave many readers green with envy. A way to relieve yourself of your most debilitating neuroses while also fighting crime? Oh my God, who cares about moral ambiguity — sign me up!
The story has an amusing comic book vibe, with its “Midcity” setting, weirdly named villains, and dark heroes. And it is definitely refreshing to read about an urban fantasy heroine who suffers from major hypochondria, and whose superpower derives from that. Unfortunately, I didn’t find Justine enjoyable in many other ways. She thinks of herself as only moderately attractive, but her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. She’s also obnoxiously stubborn, and ridiculously clueless; if this were a movie, everyone would be shouting at her not to go into the damn basement. She’s clearly intended to be flawed, but it’s overkill.
On the bright side, Justine grows as a character throughout the series — though I’m not sure she ever gets all that bright — and the storyline becomes increasingly exciting and intense, as well as thoughtful. (The books are also a touch grisly, which makes me a little worried about following Crane into the romantic suspense genre.) I was impressed with how cleverly Justine’s romantic interests are depicted, since she’s so dense she’s essentially an unreliable narrator.