What a brief and moving novella. I’m not sure what spurred me on to request it (probably the military aspect – I grew up in a military town), as I’ve tried to limit the number of ARC, and even more so romance based ARCs, that I request, but it was a quick and enthralling read. I could easily see Valante creating a longer novel with greater detail, but this novella worked well enough for me as it was.
I received a copy of Mindscape (link to the publisher’s website) directly from the publisher in return for my honest response; no compensation was received.
As with the just reviewed After the Fall this novel was GREAT to me for the reason most readers of romance will not like it: the lack of sex. This novel instead focused on the story line (the relationship and the history of the relationship) and the war. I mean don’t get me wrong some sex would’ve been great, but it was completely unnecessary to the story (and I thus believe left out).
Aside from the story and the characters which I thoroughly enjoyed, there were two aspects I found intriguing about the novel: the mundanity of same-sex marriage and the idea of the mindscape.
It seems like a small thing, but when you think about it a book written in a future where marriage equality is not even discussed, but just accepted is fascinating. This isn’t the first and it definitely won’t be the last, but with marriage equality a nightly feature on many news channels, the lack of discussion/controversy/protest sort of caught me off guard. It’s similar to when I first moved to a larger city and people were just people. I LOVED that there wasn’t a discussion about it that it was just accepted and that it was just perfect. Throw in that Mark spent 3-5 years in officer training school just so he could kiss Shane, then swoon (now that’s the romance!), of course they have to get married!
Where I think Valante shows her creativity is through the mindscape. Mark and Shane share a mental connection and are able to merge their minds together making them perfect partners in war (and ultimately life) and the whole point of this novella is that Mark is trapped in his mindscape. If your mind were a landscape what would it be? Mine would probably be a university or a library or something along those lines.
Mark’s mindscape is, not surprisingly, the aftermath of a war-zone. The descriptions of the mindscape are eerie and believable and what happens was a little predictable, but not enough so that it was frustrating. I also found it interesting that the third character (I’ve completely forgotten his name) is more of an empath and can merge minds with anyone he gets close to and although I felt this was unnecessary added drama, it made sense why it was included.
Recommendation: I would definitely recommend checking this out. It might even be a great introduction to male-male romance as there is very little physical activity discussed and you just know them as people in love.
Opening Line: “The first time Shane enters the Rigsby Psychiatric Ward, the noise and smells slam into him like a fist to the solar plexus.”
Closing Line: “But in the meantime, for just this moment, everything is rainy.” (Whited out.)