Disclaimer: Do not buy this book if depictions of extreme sexual nature and violence offend you. This TWO MINDS: 50 SHADES OF FUCKED UP is an extreme horror book that will test the reader with its graphic content.
For those of you still here after reading the disclaimer, congratulations, you are in for a very fine read. Two Minds: Fifty Shades of Fucked Up is latest in Matt Shaw's new series of collaborative novella's. This time Matt has teamed up with Sam West, who, I am told, is a well-known author in the extreme horror fiction world, a world that this reviewer is not overly familiar with, as it is a sub-genre that I am not particularly comfortable dipping into....
One of the biggest problems with extreme horror is that it often throws such things as characterization, plot development and good dialogue out with the bath water in favour of trying to shock the reader with ever increasing depictions of depravity. Two Minds: Fifty Shades of Fucked Up does indeed have ever increasing depictions of depravity. However, Shaw and West balance this with an engaging story, that once you look below the shock value, has a beautiful melancholic and heavy-hearted under current that prevents the book from becoming merely a book to shock.
Samantha and Jack are both looking for something. One is seeking to further their extra-marital hook ups, and one is looking for the answer to what happened to their sister. But they share something else in common, the desire and need for extreme sex, and when the worlds of Samantha and Jack intertwine, both of their lives will never be the same again.
Told from the dual viewpoints of Samantha and Jack, Two Minds: Fifty Shades of Fucked Up at first can be little disorientating, as the two positions switch from one character to the other, but once you get into the swing of the dual narrative structure of the book, everything clicks into place. And as the lives of these two particularly unlikeable characters crash together the reader is taken on a journey filled with shocking, and eye-opening descriptions of sex and violence.
This is not an easy read, its descriptions of what happens, and they way in which Jack views women and even the extreme submissive behaviour of Samantha will certainly be offensive to many readers. To be honest, I initially had problems with this in the early stages of the book. However, these were mostly laid to rest by the time I finished it.
Yes, the book has some vile and nasty passages, some of which many people will find misogynistic, but look beneath these passages, and what you have is a story about two people looking for one thing they need. Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here for some reason started playing in my head once the book was finished, in particular, the line
"we're just two lost souls, swimming in a fish bowl."
As that's what Sam and Jack are, two lost souls, looking for the one person that can make them feel alive. They aren't people you can fall in love with but look past their actions and their motives, and you can feel for them. Their need for being complete is palpable and drives the story through to the stark and perfectly toned conclusion. Don't come into a Shaw production expecting a Mills and Boon happy ending. Two Minds: Fifty Shades of Fucked Up's ending is as brutal and heartbreaking as you can expect.
This isn't a book for everyone, but if you are looking to dip your toes into the murky depths of extreme horror, this is a great place to start. If you are already a fan of the genre, then you should already be a fan of the Shaw and West, and this book will not disappoint in any way. A hard hitting, horrible, and harrowing novella with a little bit of heart.