Head Rush (2012) – Carolyn Crane

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Three stars

Read Aug 19 2015 – Aug 21 2015

Book 3 of The Disillusionists

Justine Jones faces her ultimate enemy: herself.

In an attempt to put her unhappy past behind her, Justine Jones throws herself into nursing school and planning her wedding to Otto Sanchez, the man of her dreams. But something is off. Random details aren’t adding up… and is it her imagination, or are her friends and fiancé keeping secrets from her. And what’s with the strange sense of unease, and her odd new headaches?

Justine tries to stay upbeat as Midcity cowers under martial law, sleepwalking cannibals, and a mysterious rash of paranormal copycat violence, but her search for answers leads her into the most dangerous mind game yet.

With the help of unlikely allies, including her paranoid dad and best frenemy Simon, Justine fights her ultimate foe… and unravels the most startling mystery of all.

Warning: This book contains high-speed rollerblade chases, a mysterious green dashboard ornament, a father of the bride in full hazmat gear and a delicious kebab.


Head Rush, the conclusion to Carolyn Crane’s The Disillusionists Trilogy (consisting of Mind Games and Double Cross) was published as an eBook in 2011. I, desperate for resolution after the cliffhanger ending (in which Justine and Packard declare their love for each other, Otto kills Avery in front of Justine, and then modifies her memory to frame Packard), do not have an eBook reader. Which is how we get to the situation where I finish the series three years later.

Credit where credit is due though – while the finer details escaped me, I could still remember the main plot points in the first two books despite time. Armed with a somewhat cohesive plotline, reading Head Rush was another shopping list: Justine discovers that her memory had been revised? Tick. Justine brings down the evil beloved mayor Otto? Tick. And of course, don’t forget Justine and Packard finding their happily ever after? Tick for that too.

So the plot’s not great. It makes for frustrating and quite frankly boring reading when the audience knows what really happened, but the narrator doesn’t, subjecting said audience to an internal monologue of “how come A and B don’t add up? But why do I think X when I clearly remember Y?” for the entire first half of the book. And to make it worse, it’s presented in such a blatant in-your-face kinda way – it feels like Crane’s going “see what I did? See how that’s clever? See, Justine flinches when Otto reaches into his breast pocket because he killed Avery and she’s happy when she sees Packard because she really loves him despite her revised memory?See?

Moreover on the writing – it was quite stiff in places. I mean, give me some emotion! I mean, c’mon: “I like to call him Detective Sanchez when we’re having sex, and he plays along. It’s very exciting.” It’s very exciting. Exciting. Oh, and thanks Det Sanchez for playing along. Plus Justine wears a “red and black affair”. Maybe it’s just me, but I like my bachelorette dinner clothes to be a bit more descriptive. In fact, the whole book could get a shaking up to be more descriptive. I have no idea what Justine looks like, or Shelby. Some of the characters are described in ridiculously detail, while others are neglected.

Otto is one of those whose appearance is mentioned countless times. And I gotta say, not even from the beginning was I remotely attracted to him. First impressions: Otto. Not exactly a name I’d associate with sexy. In fact, it reminds me of a children’s book about a mirror called Otto. Next, he has “sumptuously large” features – a phrase I’d prefer to be associated with food. Now add in a “rumbly voice”, swarthiness, storminess and – the best part – a beret! Ladies and gentlemen, say a welcome to your dream man, the “King” and beloved mayor of Midcity.

But you know what? Despite the unpromising beginning, I really did get sucked into Head Rush. Part of it was the thrill of reading a book in (almost) one sitting – something that happens all too rarely these days. And also partly because the writing was accessible, the characters were quirky, the pace really picked up and overall the book finished with a lovely optimistic tone. Yes, you could say the ending was a bit too sweet and I wouldn’t disagree with you. But for what has always been a light frivolous read in my eyes, it doesn’t hurt to have a nice frivolous ending.


The Disillusionists
Mind Games (2010)
Double Cross (2010)
Head Rush
(2011)

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