Tag Archives: Psychological

Calvin – Martine Leavitt

Calvin – Martine LeavittTitle: Calvin by Martine Leavitt
Publishing Info: November 17, 2015 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 4, 2015

As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes.
He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson.

bookreview1

CALVIN seemed like a really interesting concept as well as a quick read (the book is under 200 a pages!) and with the end of the year drawing near, it was the perfect time for me to grab a book that would keep me intrigued and help me get that much closer to completing my reading challenge for 2015!

CALVIN is the story of a boy named Calvin who discovers that he has schizophrenia. He believes that if Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson would just write one more comic, he would stop having visions of a real (to him) version of Hobbes and his life could just go back to normal. Calvin then leaves on a quest to go find him by walking across the frozen lake from Canada all the way to the US. As interesting as this concept sounded, the book really fell a bit flat for me. I’ve always been interested in psychology so naturally, books with a psychological aspect of any sort tend to grab me. I started out really interested but the book quickly lost steam for me and despite its short length, I had trouble focusing and staying interested. 

Calvin as a character didn’t really seem to have a lot of depth. I suppose it’s hard to have a well-rounded character when the whole point of the story is a single obsession but I would have loved to see more emotion from him throughout the book! I suppose because I knew Calvin was having schizophrenic episodes, I also found it hard to get a grip on what was real and what was being manifested inside Calvin’s head. Obviously I knew Hobbes wasn’t real but I found myself questioning the entire situation and several characters so just the smallest of doubts really threw off my whole reading experience. That’s also how I am when I read books that I know involve psychological aspects or psychological twists — I’m always looking for a twist, even if it isn’t there, so I actually ended up making this book more complicated than it really was.

I was actually not too impressed with the book overall. It should have been a quick read but I didn’t find the writing terribly engaging and (though possibly due to my own faults), I was kind of let down with the ending. I just didn’t really feel like the book was taking me somewhere and the middle really dragged for me. I kept hoping for something to reel me back it but I never quite made it there. I was also sort of upset that the author didn’t really include any information about schizophrenia and what it is. There were some quick passages where Calvin is trying to explain it to Susie but I just always feel like books dealing with mental illness should educate the reader a little bit since most people don’t know details. I feel like CALVIN missed an easy opportunity to just open that conversation up to the readers.

CALVIN wasn’t a bad read for me but I’d have a hard time recommending it. I can usually zip through a nice, short book and I felt like this book actually dragged a bit. It really didn’t impress me on any level and like I said, not bad but just didn’t really stand out in any way for me.
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

calvin gr updates

character_breakdown1

Calvin // Character Obsessions: Finding Bill Watterson, Hobbes, Susie. 
I felt so disconnected from Calvin and really thought he was lacking the emotion I needed to enjoy his character. I completely understand his obsessions and why he needs to go on his mission but for some reason I just couldn’t connect to him like I wanted to. Hobbes seemed to have more personality, actually.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Quick reads. It was kind of nice that this book was on the shorter side! I always feel more motivated to finish and finish quickly.
Left Me Wanting More: Conversation about mental illness. I’m not usually one to say what “should” or “shouldn’t” be included in a book but I really, really would have liked to see the author touch more on Calvin’s schizophrenia, how it’s handled, what people experience, etc. There was just a bit of talk about it but I had really hoped for more.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

Again, the book wasn’t bad and usually I tell people get a second opinion or try it but I have a hard time recommending this one! I just feel a little let down.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE CALVIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

BELZHAR    LOUD AWAKE AND LOST

We’ll Never Be Apart – Emiko Jean

We’ll Never Be Apart – Emiko JeanTitle: We'll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean
Publishing Info: October 6, 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 2, 2015

Murder.
Fire.
Revenge.
That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.
Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

bookreview1

I’m always interested in a good psychological thriller so I was really excited to start WE’LL NEVER BE APART, especially when I was looking for something with an edge to read around Halloween time (you know… for those horror-chickens like me)! As with most psychological thrillers, I went into this one nearly blind so I could be surprised by any twists that might occur.

WE’LL NEVER BE APART definitely had its thrilling moments but… maybe I’ve read too many psychological thrillers recently… I totally guessed the twist after the first chapter. This was one of those books I was hoping I was wrong and that there would be something more surprising coming but turns out my guess was accurate. It was kind of a bummer because then I spent the rest of the book reading it assuming what the twist was and it made it a bit anticlimactic instead of exciting and mysterious.

I did appreciate that the story really dug into deeper layers as the book went on. I struggled for a bit in the middle because, well, once you know the twist, the suspense deflates a bit so I didn’t feel as hooked as I had hoped. Things really start to pick up around 50% to 75% in and the pacing really picked up! I found out so much more about the backstories of the characters and there were some very shocking revelations about their backgrounds and how their past affected their present/future.

I think the thing I was disappointed in was that even guessing the ending or not, the middle of the book didn’t seem to develop as much as I had hoped. I’m sure being in the dark would have left some suspense and I would have felt more of a pull to read but even still, I feel like there wasn’t too much going on in the middle. I’m not sure what I was expecting — more action? More thrilling moments? More hints at backstories earlier on? — but the book as a whole just didn’t quite grab me. I enjoyed the ending and thought it culminated nicely but again, it just didn’t feel like anything original for me.do like when books end on a sort of open note like this — it’s all tied up in the end as far as plot goes but there’s juuuust a little jab that makes the reader think twice and I kind of love when horror/suspense books do that!

WE’LL NEVER BE APART felt a bit like it fit the mold of the other psychological thrillers I’ve read so it was nothing too new for me, BUT I think if you’re new to these sorts of books, this could be a really fun one! Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a perfect fit for me.
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

we'll never be apart gr updates

character_breakdown1

Alice // Character Obsessions: Cellie, Jason, defeat, escape.
Alice wasn’t a very deep character for me… I guess I shouldn’t say deep but I just really didn’t connect with her like I had hoped. I think it would have been a lot more enjoyable had I been able to get a better feel for her character and really get into her head but I felt really disconnected from her. She never quite panned out to a real person to me and just felt like a story.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Psychological thrillers. As much as I felt this one was a bit too predictable, it did leave me with a craving for more books like this. I love when books mess with my head and take me totally by surprise and I think it’s always a good thing when a book leaves you wanting more of anything.
Left Me Wanting More: Surprises. I just really wish this could have been something I couldn’t have guessed. Or maybe I could have been led off that path to be surprised that what I had guessed really was the ending. It’s hard to say!

Addiction Rating
Try it

I’d recommend this if you’re more of a newbie to psychological thrillers. If you’re a veteran to these types of books, you’ll probably guess the ending as well and I’m not sure the rest of the story is appealing enough to really stay suspenseful and shocking. For me personally, I just wasn’t as connected as I had hoped.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE WE’LL NEVER BE APART

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WE WERE LIARS    VANISHING GIRLS

Loud Awake and Lost – Adele Griffin

Loud Awake and Lost – Adele GriffinTitle: Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin
Publishing Info: November 12, 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 20, 2013

    There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. She can’t even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won’t talk about?
In the wake of her critically praised young adult psychological thrillers, Tighter and All You Never Wanted, National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin has created another triumph in this unflinching story of loss and recovery that Booklist called “exquisite” in a starred review.

bookreview1

There don’t seem to be a lot of mystery-type YA novels (or weren’t… I think they’re starting appear more often now! Or maybe I’m noticing them more…) so I was really hoping LOUD AWAKE AND LOST would be a really good mystery and, well. It just wasn’t as thrilling as I had hoped!

I actually have a lot of respect for the book, especially after finding out that Adele Griffin was inspired to write this book based on a situation that happened to her brother. (You can find out more info about that on the author profile over at Teen Lit Rocks!) I really enjoyed the psychological factor involved in LOUD AWAKE AND LOST. I really enjoy a good psychological twist and this book definitely had them! Ember wakes up after her accident and is missing a few very, very key details all from the last six weeks of her life before the accident. It was incredibly interesting to see how Ember had to figure out exactly what happened during those few weeks — especially involving a very important piece she can’t remember, a fight she barely believes happened, and memories of the accident that she really needs to recover before she can move on with her life.

I really enjoyed the concept and the process of the story and overall, it was exactly what I was looking for but somehow it just didn’t come together as the story was progressing. I felt like that was kind of weird for me, but the resolution of the story sort of confirmed suspicions for me and brought everything together. I feel like a lot of times if I’m struggling a bit during the story, the ending usually ends up disappointing me as well, but I was invested in what I was hoping the ending would be so really the big picture was a big deal! There were a couple interesting twists in the book but I do have to say that I kind of guessed the “big deal” in there. It actually made the book better for me that was able to suspect that because otherwise it would have been a bit too confusing for me along the way.
There were actually a few times that I felt like the mystery was dragging. I wanted a few more clues to push the plot forward and keep my interesting piqued but there were times it was just a bit too slow. I think the fact that I do love a good mystery actually took away from it for me because I love the build-up of suspense and it did build up but then there were points where it would build up and then not move forward. I needed a bit more of a reveal than I was given at times!

I also had a bit of trouble connecting with the characters. I liked Ember but I didn’t feel that emotional connection with her. I was also really confused with her relationship with Kai at first until things started to really unfold. Everything of course made sense towards the end, but it was another situation where it just didn’t quite all fit together for me.

So I guess the review really sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book but I did. Just really not as much as I had hoped. I think my big issue was that things really just didn’t mesh for me while I was reading it. I had suspicions about what Ember was missing and I used those suspicions as fact (which did end up being true) so things made sense for me. Without those, I would have been a little too confused and I didn’t like being so dependent on a hunch!

character_breakdown1

Ember // Character Obsessions: Recovering, making up with her friends, regaining memories, Kai.
I really wanted to connect with Ember but somehow I just didn’t have that emotional connection and I couldn’t quite comprehend all of her decisions. I think we were just different kinds of people and who knows — maybe that’s because of the place she was after the accident. I just really wanted to get to know her more and I just couldn’t get inside her head.
Rachel // Character Obsessions: Helping Ember recover, making up, getting E back together with her ex.
I actually really liked Rachel! She really was one of my favorite characters and I loved her spunk and true friendship with Ember. She really was pushing for Ember to get back together with her ex-boyfriend (which, by the way, is also is Rachel’s cousin — they had a really close friendship before Ember’s accident). I just really enjoyed her whole presence in the book and the friendship aspect that she provided.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Psychological mystery/thrillers. I really loved the absence of memories and the importance that it played in this book. The lack of memory, the need to unearth them, and the psychological factors were just so interesting! I love those aspects and I love when books mess with my head!
Left Me Wanting More: Action or faster pacing. There were a lot of moments when the book just lulled. I didn’t need it to be a full-on action book but I need a bit more of a gradual reveal then giving me clues and not actually getting answers along the way.

Addiction Rating
Borrow It

I think this one could go either way. Some people have really liked how the book unfolded and others have felt like it was slow. It really will depend on the person!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE LOUD AWAKE AND LOST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          The Adoration of Jenna Fox   False Memory