Mind Fuck

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Title and Link: Mind Fuck
Author: Manna Francis
Publisher URL: Casperian Books
Genre: Futuristic M/M, Urban Fantasy, BDSM, sci fi,
Length: Novel (Print – 261 pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5, DIK


 

 

Summary review:Mind blowing and compelling” are not an overstatement when I describe this book. It’s all that and more.

THE BLURB

There are no bad guys or good guys. There are only better guys and worse guys. One of the worse guys is Val Toreth. In a world in which torture is a legitimate part of the investigative process, he works for the Investigation and Interrogation Division, where his colleagues can be more dangerous than the criminals he investigates.

One of the better guys is Keir Warrick. His small corporation, SimTech, is developing a “sim” system that places users in a fully immersive virtual reality. A minnow in a murky and dangerous pond, he is only beginning to discover how many compromises may be required for success.

Their home is the dark future dystopia of New London. A totalitarian bureaucracy controls the European Administration, sharing political power with the corporations. The government uses violence and the many divisions of the feared Department of Internal Security to maintain control and crush resistance. The corporations fight among themselves, using lethal force under the euphemism of “corporate sabotage,” uniting only to resist attempts by the Administration to extend its influence over them. Toreth and Warrick are more natural enemies than allies. But mutual attraction and the fight for survival can create unlikely bonds.

THE REVIEW

This is without a doubt one of the most fascinating and intense stories that I have ever read. Mind Fuck is book I in the Administration series and is set in the near future dystopia of New London. I’m not sure whether this book should be classified as science fiction or urban fantasy, but it definitely is not a romance (at least not yet) and it’s quite possible that you may end up not liking any of the main characters, but what awesome writing from the brain of Manna Francis! The protagonists are Val Toreth, a ruthless sociopath who is a Senior Para-Investigator for The Administration’s feared Investigation and Interrogation Division, and Keir Warrick, part owner of a small but valuable company whose extreme virtual reality simulation or “sim” technology the Administration wants badly enough to seduce, corrupt and manipulate those in high places to commit a series of murders to discredit the “sim” and scare away financial backers.

When Toreth and Warrick  meet it’s a match made in heaven, or whatever people like them call heaven, because regardless of competing interests and moral objectives, Toreth is a sadist and a Warrick is a masochist and their mutual need to satisfy their sexual hunger draws them to each other like a moth to a flame. Toreth the master manipulator knows just how to get Warrick to do his bidding as his brand of sex is addictive to someone who can’t do without his fix, but make no mistake, outside of his sexual needs Warrick is just as controlling and manipulative and at times I wondered which character would come out on top, physically and mentally.

Mind Fuck is a mind blowing tale and Toreth, the main protagonist, is a compelling figure whose job gives him almost unlimited power to arrest and torture those that the Administration feels are threats to its objective of global domination. The plot is the stuff of dreams if you like futuristic stories, and even if you don’t, because the characters are so wonderfully drawn and incredibly flawed that you are sure to be fascinated by them and the story.

 The name of the book caught my eye and I’m sure that’s what the author intended, but then I read the blurb and was hooked. The name actually had a lot to do with the premise of the story. The Division of Psychoprogramming, commonly called Mindfuck, is feared by ordinary residents and corporation executives alike because it has the ability, through the administration of mind altering drugs and other forms of torture, to get anyone to confess to crimes they did not commit.

When Toreth first met Warrick and was asked what his job was, his response was “I fuck minds.”However, it seemed for a while that Toreth had met his match because Warrick bested the master manipulator by inviting him on a virtual tour of Sim Tech and f**ked his mind and body in the sim. When Warrick turned the tables on his nemesis he repeated Toreth’s words by inviting him to experience “the future of mind fucking,” an episode where the author demonstrated that his character was as multi layered as Toreth’s, and that just because he was a masochist didn’t mean that he was anyone’s patsy. Never one to let any misdeeds against him go unpunished, Toreth was at his best when exacting revenge, and the first scene of them having actual rather than simulated sex was  point and counterpoint and Warrick could only take what he had coming.

The plot is engrossing, intelligent, brilliant and incredibly complex yet not difficult to understand, and the characterizations are unusual in that neither Toreth nor Warrick was the kind of person I would have invited home for dinner, yet I admired them. At times Warrick was Toreth’s dinner.

This book is a psychological thriller about mind control, extreme virtual reality, and absolute power that corrupts. The characters are all flawed and each has a different agenda, and while I admired some of their actions their motives were selfish and self serving even while claiming to be acting for the good of others.

Mind Fuck is definitely one of the best books I have ever read and it covers themes ranging from corporate espionage, corruption at the highest levels, murder, betrayal, torture and greed in a totalitarian bureaucracy. I can’t recommend this book highly enough and if you miss it you will miss an outstanding read. Manna Francis is an incredibly gifted writer whose characters are so flawed and human they come alive in 3D as the reader is drawn into a world where there are no rules and lives have no value.

What I liked best was the author’s skillful portrayal of both her male and female characters, which is not the norm for this type of book where women are usually relegated to menial roles. The character that I was drawn to most of all was Warrick who tried to balance his need to be sexually humiliated and dominated with his abhorrence of what Toreth represented, but he knew that Toreth was absolutely essential to helping him save his sim technology by preventing it from falling into the hands of Administration officials. Murder was an everyday occurrence for Toreth to whom human life had no value, but when his own life was threatened his panic was almost funny as he realized that everything he worked for was a mirage and he would probably get his comeuppance. Toreth had so many flaws it was hard to find anything good to say about him, but despite his lack of humanity he cared for one person, his administrative assistant, who at times provided a window into his character that would have otherwise been blurred. He loved to get his rocks off and made no bones about using his male and female employees, as well as others in the Administration for sex, and even when he made them bend over to keep their jobs he had no compunction about screwing them out of those same jobs when it served his purpose.

I found it a challenge to review this book because I became so involved and immersed in the lives of the characters, many of whom I did not care for, and I wasn’t sure if I wished them to live or die. Strangely, the characters whom I respected the most in the end (and not grudgingly) was Toreth. I have deliberately not identified the secondary characters other than Toreth’s admin. because to do so would have revealed some of their roles in the book, and might have included spoilers.

This not to be missed story is dense with detail and shows how corrupt and morally bankrupt the Administration and a large percentage of the characters are as they served their own personal agendas.

Mind Fuck is available as a free download on the author’s website, however because I was so impressed and blown away by the story I bought it in paperback – one of my few recent purchases in this format. If you enjoy this type of story I highly recommend that you get it in paper. There are 3 novels, 3 novellas and 28 short stories in the series to date and I hope to review at least the other 2 novels. This is without a doubt the only review I have ever written that has the “F” word featured so prominently. :) Mind Fuck is available in paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Casperian Books and The Book Depository.

Highly recommended!

49 thoughts on “Mind Fuck

  1. Ingrid

    It is everything you said and more wave. I have seldom read a more engrossing read. This is not for the faint at heart because there is no fluff in sight. I can only say read the whole series!

    1. Wave Post author

      Ingrid

      This is not for the faint at heart because there is no fluff in sight.

      You are so right Ingrid – there is absolutely no fluff in this book which is why I loved it. What a wonderful experience reading this book has been.

      I’m going to have to give myself a short break before I read any of the other books because Mind Fuck is so intense. WOW!

  2. LadyM

    Amazing series. I love it, there is no other word for it. I have this small site where I review the books only a few times a year and Administration series was one of them. I posted about it in my personal journal. On the web site I moderate. Everywhere. I just couldn’t stop talking about it. It’s the ambiguousness of the world and characters that was so captivating for me. I never thought I would cheer for a sociopath, but there you have it. It’s just fascinating how his mind works. XD Sarah was one of my favorite characters. The series still tops the list of my favorite dystopian books. I would recommend it to all visitors of this site.

    Since you read both versions, is there many differences between free stories and print version?

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Lady M
      This is such a fascinating world and I wonder how I will find book 2. Will I be disappointed because Mind Fuck is such an absolutely astounding read? Will the new characters be just as engaging? So many questions to which there are no answers, not yet anyway. :)

      This book was so addictive that I stayed up all night to finish it. I can understand why you became addicted as well. You’re right – Sarah was so well drawn that I fell in love with her character.

      To answer your question about whether there are differences between the electronic and print versions – I didn’t find any. I downloaded the electronic version because I wanted to read it on my Kindle since I find the small print in paperbacks difficult to read.

      I’m still uncertain whether I did justice to the book in the review but it was the best I could do. :)

  3. Tj

    Really? DIK? Are you trying to bankrupt us all? You’re on quite a roll these last few days Wave. Interesting characters, cool world building, and a killer plot – sold! Fantastic review!

    1. Wave Post author

      TJ
      This is one book that will not bankrupt you because you can get it as a free download. :) However I do recommend the print version and that’s a big rec for me because I only buy print where electronic is not available.

      This is an absolutely astounding book. If you don’t read another one this year you should get it because it engages your mind to an incredible degree.

  4. Ingrid

    The other stories are just like this one. I normally do not like shorts but since there are so many of them all about the same persons it does not feel like shorts. Just a long continuing story.

    I do like the way the author drags Toreth through the wringer. He gets what he deserves and more

    1. Wave Post author

      I do like the way the author drags Toreth through the wringer. He gets what he deserves and more.

      You are so vicious Ingrid.I look forward to the other books. I have ordered them but don’t know when I’ll be able to review them if they are as intense. :)

  5. Tam

    Despite your high rating I’m pretty sure this is not for me. That’s not a genre that I enjoy and I’m learning that just because something is 5 stars and received excellent reviews, I should go with my gut as to what will appeal to my sensibilities. I have too many books I’ve bought based on rave reviews rather than my desire to read them. They sit and sit and sit. It’s not a reflection of the books at all, just a poorly reasoned purchase. I’m glad others find this one appealing, but I’ll pass this time.

    1. Wave Post author

      Tam
      As you know we all rate books according to our likes and dislikes. For example, books that are heavy on angst don’t really appeal to me unless they are written by a favourite author such as K.A. Mitchell. Conversely, I can’t resist books like this because they are in a genre that I love.

      I was very careful to point out in the review that these are not characters that most readers will love and in fact some may despise them. I was fascinated by the story and the characters and for me Mind Fuck was a welcome change from some of the drivel I have been reading lately. I can definitely understand your point of view – many times a highly rated book doesn’t do it for me because the plot isn’t something I care for.

      I hear you about buying a lot of books that are just sitting there. I have the same problem. :(

  6. Meredith Shayne

    I adore this series, and I also have stayed up all night at times to finish it.

    but make no mistake, outside of his sexual needs Warrick is just as controlling and manipulative

    That is exactly why I adore Warrick and applaud his characterisation, because he is so submissive and needs it so much, and yet outside of the bedroom he is so incredibly in control, more so than Toreth at times. It would have been so easy for Manna to portray him as weak because of his sexual tastes, but she didn’t and I love her for that.

    1. Wave Post author

      Meredith
      Like you, I love Warrick because he is just as strong, controlling and manipulative as Toreth. Fascinating characterizations. I think Manna’s protagonists in this series are exquisitely drawn and I, too, applaud her for not falling into the trap of making Warrick into a total weakling which would have been very easy to do.

      Now I have to gird my loins for the other books in the series. :)

      1. Meredith Shayne

        I read everything online first (I couldn’t stop reading!), and then I bought the books. The series is a keeper, as far as I’m concerned.

        You’re right to caution people though – I know quite a few people who said they didn’t like it because there wasn’t enough feeling between Warrick and Toreth. Personally I think that if they stopped after Mind Fuck they did themselves a disservice, because one of the best things about this series is how Warrick and Toreth’s relationship develops over time. And that’s all I’ll say now to avoid spoiling you. :)

  7. Angelica

    Sounds interesting, Wave! Thank goodness it’s a free read – I can’t afford all your DIKs!

    1. Wave Post author

      Angelica
      I have been posting reviews of older books so that those readers who might not know about them have an opportunity to check them out.

      As I mentioned to Tam, this book is not for everyone because of the plot and characterizations and it’s not a romance, however since it’s a free read you get to read it at no cost. :)

  8. stacy

    Think I’ll skip this book also, not really interested in characters with no redeeming qualities, the premise may be interesting, but all in all this sounds like a downer of a series.

  9. Wave Post author

    Stacey
    I was careful to indicate why someone would like this story and why they wouldn’t. This is definitely not a romance – not even close.

    Only readers who like characters that are outside the norm, and plots that are significantly different from most would be attracted to this book and the series. However as you can see from the comments, there are many fans of the Administration series.

    1. stacy

      That’s what I appreciated about your review, you were very clear about what to expect from the story.

      It does sound like a good read, I just think you have to have a certain frame of mind going in.
      Which is why I rely on the review :)

  10. Kassa

    One of my favorite series ever. Not perfect and Mind-Fuck is probably the best novel of the entire series but writing as a whole is exceptional and the characterization stunning.

  11. Quinn

    Alternate universes don’t appeal to me, and I don’t like and don’t read sci-fi, but I came across “Mind Fuck” a while ago and There are no bad guys or good guys. There are only better guys and worse guys. convinced me to give this story a try. ;-) That’s my kind of story, lots of shades of gray and ambiguous characters. ;-) I started to read online and I loved the first book, and I bought them all in print, but haven’t read them all yet. I don’t know how to find the time to read all the books I would like to read. :-(

    1. Wave Post author

      Quinn

      You’re so right. What attracted me to this book were the shades of gray. One would look at Toreth’s character and assume that he was the worst sociopath, yet he has redeeming qualities, not many but enough to humanize him. :)

      I could tell towards the end of MF that he’s developing feelings for Warrick. I don’t know yet what those feelings are since I just finished reading Unlucky Break, the short story that immediately follows MF. LOL Toreth is something else and he always does the unexpected.

      You and I can take the journey into this world together Quinn and compare notes.

  12. Eden

    Fabulous review for what looks like a fabulous book. One more tome piled on my already massive TBR stack and the whole darn thing might topple over and crush me! Sigh. I’ll see how long I can hold out, but this story sounds right up my alley. I feel my arm being twisted and that intriguing cover whispering to me.

    1. Wave Post author

      Eden
      This is one of those books you either love or hate. I LOVED it, as you can tell.

      The best part is that you can download MF free so you don’t have to buy it in print. :)

  13. Wave Post author

    Hi Kassa
    As you said, the characterization is stunning and Manna Francis is a brilliant writer.
    The newest book First Against the Wall was released this past May which would make it 6 books so far in the series and I’m about to order all of them. I need some serious “me” reading time. :)

  14. feliz

    This is definitely not a fast nor an easy read. This was one of those books I couldn’t stop reading for the fantastic writing and great worldbuilding and characterization even though I didn’t like it – not in the slightest. It’s like the proverbial train wreck – can’t look away.

    1. Wave Post author

      Feliz
      That’s what great writing is all about – you can’t stop reading and become so immersed in the story and involved with the characters that you have to go on. :)

      When I started reading MF I hated the characters; when it ended I didn’t love them but I understood them.

      I can’t wait for book 2.

  15. Peggy P

    Now wait a minute – not a romance you say?!

    OK, not a Harlequin romance but we have the 2 main characters, a host of secondary characters and family members with their own story arcs, we have epic conflict and a relationship that last years and finishes with HFN , eventually. Then we have the change in Toreth – though not quite redemption, thank God. I was totally invested in these two – had to keep reading to see what happened next and was happy, sad and then happy again with their relationship. Somebody upthread said something about a downer story, this isn’t, it has humor and great storytelling with amazing sex. I’m telling you this stuff is genius and this is a romance … for a new age and world.

    I read this free online, then bought the paperbacks when they became available, will buy the Kindle versions when available and audiobooks if and when that should ever happen (can you even imagine?) This stuff is gold and Wave, I’ve been eagerly waiting for your review to see what you thought – read the rest of the books and stories, you will not be disappointed.

    Just one opnionated opinion, of course.

    1. Wave Post author

      Peggy

      You have to give me some slack – I’m only at the first book and I do understand the story arc, but at the end of MF it’s still not a romance. :)

      I want them to eventually have a HFN (somehow I can’t see Toreth in a relationship with anyone that has happy ever after written on it, LOL) but one book at a time. I know that many readers have been fans of the series for years and have read all the books, but I haven’t.

      I’m telling you this stuff is genius and this is a romance … for a new age and world.

      You could be absolutely right but I had to make the comment that this wasn’t a romance in the “traditional sense” in the review because I didn’t want to mislead any of the “romance” readers who expect a HEA at the end of all their stories.

      I’m really looking forward to the next book (s) in the series Peggy.

  16. Lily

    I’ve had this on my eReader for months. I’ll definitely have to move it up. Sci-fi/Urban Fantasy isn’t my favorite but it does sound good. Great review! :)

    1. Wave Post author

      Lily
      This book is not an easy read and the characters are not lovable – think of shades of gray, but if you have the time the book is wonderful and I would certainly recommend that you give it a whirl, if only for the astounding writing of Manna Francis.

      I didn’t realize that I would love the book as much as I did. I bought MF in print at least 6 months ago and only now got around to reading and reviewing it.

  17. K. Z. Snow

    I wandered onto Manna Francis’s site a while back and was immediately stunned by her talent . . . and balls. That’s an unbeatable combination in any writer. Everything she produces has a glinting edge.

    Great review, Wave. I MUST get this book in print.

  18. Wave Post author

    Thanks KZ.

    You’re right – Manna is an an exceptional talent and she explores topics I don’t normally read e.g. sanctioned torture, extreme BDSM, characters that are extremely difficult to love, but like everyone else who’s been reading this series I can’t look away.

    I just love looking at that cover whenever I hold the print version of the book.

  19. Nastassia

    I love this book and I devoured the other stories on the author’s website. Although the main characters are very flawed , I did like them .
    Great review , it makes me want to read the stories all over again.

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Nastassia
      I can’t wait to read the other stories in this series. I’m hoping that the books will arrive in a couple of weeks so that I can get started. :)

      I do love flawed characters. There are no perfect people in the world and when I read about those they make me want to throw the book against the wall. However, loving a protag who tortures and kills is taking a bit of getting used to. LOL

    1. Wave Post author

      Kris

      This series was like crack to me.

      You are so right. I can’t wait for the other books to arrive.

      I think I exhausted the superlatives in my repertoire when I wrote the review – I have none left. :)

  20. Libby Drew

    I always get ridiculously happy when someone finds love with this series. I read it for the first time years ago, and revisit it often. And I, too, bought the books in print when they came available, something I rarely do.

    So glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Libby

      I always get ridiculously happy when someone finds love with this series

      I can’t believe I held out for so long. Many readers recommended that I review this series, and even though I bought MF in print over 6 months ago I only cracked it open recently. It’s safe to say that the other books won’t sit around waiting to be read.

  21. Gaycrow

    Great review, Wave.

    I’ve read the whole series on-line, and bought some of the paperback books as well.

    This genre is really not my cup of tea, and I hated Toreth in the first few books. He did become easier to cope with towards the end, when Warrick comes to the fore a bit more, but I kept reading because Manna is such a fantastic story teller. To get someone like me to read all the way through this series, while disliking the main character, is quite a feat!

    1. Wave Post author

      Hi Gaycrow

      To get someone like me to read all the way through this series, while disliking the main character, is quite a feat!

      I know exactly how you feel. I’m hoping that by the time I get to books 3 or 4 that Toreth will grow on me. :) However this is a fascinating series so far and I can’t wait to catch up with everyone else.

  22. kkm

    stick with it, wave – the last book in the series is absolutely stunning! after reading your review – i read the rest of the books. great, and complicated, stuff…
    :0)
    -kkm

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