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371 pages, Mass Market Paperback
First published March 23, 2010
My name is Stacia and I approved of this book.
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Simon swivels around to face us. He's wearing an iridescent green suit coat with a net shirt underneath, and black pants and boots. We both just stare at the net shirt. You can see his tattoos through it.
I give him a smirk. "That's an attractive outfit."
"You told me I was going in as the destructive boyfriend," he says. "I ask you, what kind of motherfucker would wear something like this?"
"I said destructive, not deranged."
“Do you think you might have time for dessert before you depart for the hereafter? The chocolate fondue looks excellent.”
I exhale indignantly. “You know, even hypochondriacs die of horrible diseases. Sometimes they even die of the horrible diseases they fear the most.”
“I got it right Justine. Feel into it. Your sense of being a misfit blinds you to what your heart really wants. When you get around solid upstanding men you’re like a bird with tinfoil. It makes you incoherent on a romantic level.”
“My affection is incoherent unless it’s for you That’s the line you’re giving me here ”
“This is real.” He points out the door. “That isn’t.”
I have this brief sense of us as supervillains from a B-rate thriller. Except we’re more like crime fighters—if there were crime fighters who got their superpowers from being really neurotic, and used them as part of a bizarre and marginally ethical program of criminal rehabilitation.
"Do you understand how the highcap mutation works? How different highcaps get different powers?"The blurb says, "...Packard peers into Justine's soul..." --that's his special power-- "...and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team." That team is called the disillusionists, people with mental illnesses or very negative mindsets whom Packard has trained to "zing" his chosen targets with their particular problem.
"The mutation involves a kind of wildcard DNA that's blank until you tell it what to do, like stem cells. That's why it's impossible to test for. The highcap baby who first wants a toy from across the room...becomes a telekinetic. A different highcap child might try to divine its mother's thoughts, so its mutation would take the form of telepathy. Another might strive to interact with its napping father. That one turns into a dream invader. The impulse to hide the truth creates a revisionist."
"Like rebooting computer. ...Disillusionment crashes and reboots people."The targets are evildoers who've gotten away with murder and/or other crimes (either they can't be touched by law or they were acquitted on a technicality), and Packard's understanding of their psychology leads him to believe disillusionment will rehabilitate them to become valuable members of society. He admits it doesn't always work, often because the team has to bring off a long con game to get close enough to the target to perform the right zings at the right time. There is a lot of that sort of detail in chapter after chapter.
"I can't say I've encountered anybody with your level of anxiety outside of a straightjacket," Packard continues.
"Listen here, and listen good. You can take away my freedom, you can change my outfit, but you will never, never take away my dedication to my profession."