Thanks to Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Liam is a college student with schizophrenia who finally has his disease under control with the help of a psychologist who can get through to him. After witnessing a murder all his progress is in the can as he believes his meds have caused him to see events tied to the land. Due to a new girl, Mai, who he likes very much he tries to determine what is real and what is hallucinations as his actions put his family in increasing danger… will he be able to separate fact from fiction in time to save them?
I loved the setup of this book. I was quite caught up in Liam’s new ability to see past events. It was quite puzzling trying to separate what could be really happening from what is potentially his schizophrenia. Mix in a true blue murderer and a lovely, accepting Asian girl named Mai and you have a pretty heady recipe for success going on here. Mai and her acceptance at this early stage of the story really made Liam a sympathetic character that I could root for. The problems between him and his mother and step-father seemed to be really realistic to me and I felt real sympathy for all involved.
The thing is Liam really read like a 24 year old who doesn’t have all the answers and yet desperately wants to get out there and decide for himself. He wouldn’t even go to class to see Mai, his crush! He waited outside in the car. I mean really… but I liked that about him. He was really consistent throughout the book. A bit crazy and all over the place but he was that way from page 1! And the end makes total sense when you think of how he’s been all along…
At about 40% the story started to unravel. Up to this point I was thinking 5 star all the way, I was seriously intrigued, liking the relationships with Mai, his family and his psychologist. Then he goes off his meds (like it says in the blurb) and the story lost all tether to reality. The problem with a story and the fictional world it inhabits is that it is not reality. So when what is happening is crazy there has to be a steel core running through it helping us feel like the author is still in control. What I needed to know was what kinds of things do people with schizophrenia really go through and what was expanded upon or added? At this point I just sat back and rode the rest of the story to the end. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the setup because the story kept being interrupted with thoughts about whether what was happening was schizophrenia symptoms or was it was something supernatural? Even when I got to the end there wasn’t a note from the author explaining schizophrenia and what liberties she took or didn’t take (like I’ve read in other stories of this nature). This was the biggest problem I had with the book. It made the first half 5 star and the second half 3 star so I split it down the middle for 4 star, but it doesn’t need much to really be a strong story.
The crazy hallucinations really get out of hand and I felt like that was part of what having schizophrenia would be like so it was good to include it. RP the protector cat was awesome, hands down the best character of the book! I love how he centered Liam and the role he plays in a later plot point. The family drama was really real to me. I love that he got more of the truth about his dad and mom when she left and why. I love that the stepfather stayed true to his convictions about how Liam should be treated even though it threatened his career and his marriage.
One problem I had centered around the angst surrounding the stepfather, here is what I said while I read:
“Now the stepfather is being persecuted for what Liam did! Ack! I just don’t like the whole situation: People he’s worked with in the past think now he’s a total villain? Either she doesn’t understand the disease Liam has (in which case she shouldn’t be the one investigating) or she is a racist. And since when do we presume abuse before there is proof?!”
It’s not that I didn’t think the stepfather shouldn’t be investigated but the swing from trust to total distrust was not accurate for most situations of this sort, especially when the victim has such severe mental health problems.
I also didn’t like that Mai disappeared suddenly and played almost no part in the story except for setup and the very, crazy end of the ending. I understood the end end of the book and it actually makes me want to see where the author goes from here… but this book’s climax right before totally unwound. Solving the whole murder did, murder didn’t was great but there was a lot of confusion here at the end and one major contrivance that I just don’t believe the stepfather would voice let alone think. Were there some problems, yes, but don’t let that stop you from reading this book… we all need to explore mental health issues and understand what people different from us go through on a day to day basis.
BOTTOM LINE: A 4-star wild ride through a schizophrenic’s world…