*le gasp*This blurb. This blurb. It's so beautiful.Can I skip to this one first? Please? Pretty please?post-read:At about 1/3 the way through Ivan Kosin, I thought to myself, "I agree with Emma; I'd kill myself."Not that this world is any better. I mean, in some ways it is, and there are probably a lot of not-chauvinist men, but there are definitely those ones out there, and some of them, if anything, have been driven deeper into their chauvinism by the spread of "more liberal" ideas.It's...weird. Unsettling. Horribly thought-provoking. It sucks you in, you know? And then you start viewing the world through Ivan's eyes, and that's when it gets really horrible.I kind of...took a step back, though. Well, technically I fell asleep in the middle of reading. Either way, that gave me the break from this universe's reality that I probably needed. In many ways, you've got to admire how systematically and purposefully everything is done. The behavioral engineering...they've got that down to an art. Mal is a blundering fool, but that's a given. Except then the dynamics changed, and it was really about Mal and not Ivan, and now I'm confused. Was the beginning part a dual side of the whole deal or was it just Mal and his ignorance? Can I take it now because the dynamics really have changed or has my brain adjusted itself to this new equilibrium?...Behavioral engineering on both sides. Huh. That...no, that makes sense. Holy fuck. It's a cult. It's a fucking goddamn cult, and that's probably one of the weirdest revelations I've ever had while reading an m/m thing.Actually, is this much different from Dom/sub dynamics? Except it's not. Ah. I know what it is. That insidious edge of "it's not quite completely uncoerced." It's more like Puppy Love than, say, Deviations, and that...unsettles me. It's like What Worse Place Can I Beg in Your Love? It's the mindfuck and then the character finding his equilibrium in the mindfuck and insisting he's still in his full capacities. Of course, who are we to judge, right? Perhaps the character really has discovered himself. Perhaps this sort of thing is really what he wanted after all.It just still feels like there's the edge of "well, this is as good as it's going to get, which means it's great." Is there a way back from that, though? After such a change in one's cognition? Theoretically the answer is yes, but practically, the answer seems more like no.This reminds me of the stories in that one mind-control erotica shady website I found once. It's probably not actually that shady, but it's one of those erotica sites...kind of like Nifty? I don't actually have much experience with Nifty. But anyways, it's like one of those stories, except it's proliferated "legitimate" channels (I know, I know. extreme bias and bigotry and all that). That makes it even weirder...I really don't like how that weird indoctrination happened, and then they decided Ivan was mostly fixed or something, but really, the trauma's just buried under more trauma, and with all this shit on top of other shit, I don't know if he'll ever "heal" exactly. He's not okay. He seems it but what they really did was created a different cognition and that's the one being accessed.All in all, I'd say it was more trauma for the readers than for the characters, since they get to go on in their indoctrinated oblivion of bliss.