A young person, badly beaten by peers, exacts a brutal revenge and flees – but cannot flee internal demons.
Shame is a teenager of indeterminate gender and has never seen fit to present as one or the other, scorning the categories that are impossible to fit into. But classmates, angered by Shame’s refusal to fit in, resort to violence, – beating, raping and leaving Shame in a coma to die. When Shame comes to, much later, and discovers the identity of one of the attackers, Shame decides to exact revenge. Afterwards, Shame flees in search of friend Cassidy, one of the few sources of unconditional affection – but on the way, Shame must come to terms with a growing capacity for casual cruelty, with unexpected jolts and betrayals, and with the ability to be a danger to others. Can Shame come to terms with an identity, her demons and regain some ability to love?
IN THE MIND OF REVENGE is a chilling and intriguing introduction, seen through the eyes of someone who has been driven by others’ cruelty to almost, but not completely, kill off all warmth and kindness. Shame willingly claims to be “rotten on the inside.” However, despite driving anger and a disturbing capacity for cold, brutal violence, Shame also retains the ability to care about and seek to protect others. Shame is a challenging protagonist – just sympathetic enough to care about, but damaged enough to make that caring problematic. The first-person perspective gives an unflinching immediacy to the book, bringing Shame’s inner conflicts, self-hatred, and pain to life with vivid and undeniable force. The other characters are personalities in their own right, and each of them highlights aspects of Shame’s psychology in new and different ways. This is, however, only the start of the story, and it does tend to wander a bit from episode to episode – future books, as promised by the author, will hopefully provide some more resolution and tie the plot together a bit more.
IN THE MIND OF REVENGE is a deeply disturbing book, showing the spiraling effects of cruelty and brutality on the human mind and heart.