Society would tell you it makes me dangerous. I would agree. I am dangerous, and I am powerful.
In the Mind of Revenge: Book One of The Shamed Series by Liv Hadden is a thriller that tackles hot-button social issues in a way that forces the reader to rethink the importance of what society deems as normal.
The novel is a first-person narrative about an individual who is dealing with the aftermath of a vicious attack that leaves her (or him) in a coma for months. After leaving the hospital, Shame decides to take revenge against the bullies.
The action takes place in the future, giving the reader a certain level of distance from the events, but 2028 is not that far off. While the storyline may push the reader’s comfort level, the storytelling is honest, albeit brutal at times, and the fast-paced narrative doesn’t give the reader much room to rest and process.
The beginning of the story details a brutal beating and gang rape. After thirty-eight surgeries and replacing bones with nearly indestructible metal, Shame wakes up in a hospital. Interestingly enough, the author never reveals whether or not Shame is a male or female and Shame isn’t his or her birth name.
My peers had dubbed me The Shamed in an effort to bring me down, but instead, I fed off of it.
Not knowing the main character’s gender may be frustrating for some readers, but given the political and social climate in today’s world, it forces the reader to ponder how much one’s gender influences the individual and those around him or her. Should gender have such an impact?
Bullying is a social issue that’s received a lot of press lately, as there has been an increase in reported cases. Reading about Shame’s struggles really makes one stop and think about how damaging bullying can be for young adults struggling to find their identities and their way in the world.
However, does being the victim of bullying justify Shame’s desire for revenge and violent actions? As the narrator, Shame constantly reminds the reader not to like him or her.
“So this,” I thought, “is how evil is born.”
Shame knows what he or she is doing is wrong, but that doesn’t mean he or she wants to stop. Again, this puts the reader in an awkward situation. Knowing Shame’s backstory, including the level of violence that put Shame into a coma, makes Shame a sympathetic character. Does being a sympathetic character make everything else okay? And if the reader is actually cheering Shame on, what does that say about the reader?
This book would inspire an interesting book club discussion. Hadden should be credited for creating such an intriguing storyline that touches upon several socially relevant issues that are tearing some groups apart, even family units. While Hadden, through Shame, broaches these topics, she doesn’t really direct the reader to the “correct” way of thinking. Shame has opinions, but Shame’s actions don’t always back up these opinions, making the reader question the issues even more.
The first book in the season will pique many curiosities and it will be interesting to see where the story goes next.