Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Title: Calvin

Author: Martine Leavitt

Published: November 17th, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads 

In this latest novel from National Book Award finalist Martine Leavitt, a schizophrenic teen believes that Bill Watterson can save him from his illness if he creates one more Calvin & Hobbes comic strip.

Seventeen-year-old Calvin has always known his fate is linked to the comic book character from 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 has a best friend named Susie. As a child Calvin played with the toy Hobbes, controlling his every word and action, until Hobbes was washed to death. But now Calvin is a teenager who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Hobbes is back—as a delusion—and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that if he can convince Bill Watterson to draw one final comic strip, showing a normal teenaged Calvin, he will be cured. Calvin and Susie (and Hobbes) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track him down.

Review

* Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for a review.

This book was a unique one for me and I’m really hoping that everyone will love it as much as I did. I’ve never read anything featuring a schizophrenic main character or even side character. I also found it interesting because it was written basically as one long letter from Calvin to Bill Watterson, the creator of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, though it didn’t really feel like a letter.

Calvin’s belief in the comics, as well as his condition were what really drove the story, that and the characters. Susie, Calvin’s childhood friend, had drawn away from him in favor of new and more popular friends. But the appearance of Hobbes draws them back together. She goes to see him in the hospital and he reveals his plan to walk across Lake Erie into the United States to prove his devotion to Bill Watterson (wait what?). This will be his cure, not medicine but adventure, which may seem a bit…odd, but you must remember that he is a recently diagnosed schizophrenic. And maybe Susie’s a bit crazy too, because instead of alerting his parents as she originally intended, she ends up joining him in this journey. From there, everything goes sort of crazy (well…more crazy) and the two teens really start really to grow as characters. They meet an amazing group of people while on the lake, made more amazing by the fact that they are on the lake, who really pushed me to think. Though, truthfully, the entire book drove me to think. Take Hobbes for example, though he may be a figment of Calvin’s imagination he still has quite a few amazing things to say…

-Hobbes: Remember what it feels like to wake up on a summer morning and not think about anything except going outside and sitting under a tree? You’ve forgotten. I bet Bill has, too. Instead of a heart you’ll have an iPhone. Instead of a brain you’ll have pings that tell you what has to be done that day and that minute. You’ll never sit in a tree house again, or build a snow fort. You’ll rake and shovel walks, instead. But it doesn’t have to be that way, ol’ buddy…

I don’t know about you guys, but I find that kind of profound, especially for an imaginary tiger. And speaking of imaginary, another reason that I loved this book so much is because I never felt entirely certain whether or not the things that were happening and the characters that were actually real or only real to Calvin. But I didn’t really care if they were real or not in the end, because they were real to Calvin and that ended up being good enough for me. 

Who else has read Calvin? What other books have you readwhere the main character is schizophrenic?

-please note that this quotation has not been checked against a final copy of the book.

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Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce

 Title: Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures 

Authors: Jackson  Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater (also the illustrator)

Published: April 28th, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads

From bestselling authors Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce comes an exciting new series full of magical creatures, whimsical adventures, and quirky illustrations.
Pip is a girl who can talk to magical creatures. Her aunt is a vet for magical creatures. And her new friend Tomas is allergic to most magical creatures. When things go amok—and they often go amok—Pip consults Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, a reference work that Pip finds herself constantly amending. Because dealing with magical creatures like unicorns, griffins, and fuzzles doesn’t just require book knowledge—it requires hands-on experience and thinking on your feet. For example, when fuzzles (which have an awful habit of bursting into flame when they’re agitated) invade your town, it’s not enough to know what the fuzzles are—Pip and Tomas also must trace the fuzzles’ agitation to its source, and in doing so, save the whole town.

Continue reading

I Recommend… Anne McCaffrey and The Harper Hall Trilogy

Those that know me well are likely aware that I love dragons. I read books about the creatures somewhat obsessively, as well as watch shows including them and collect objects involving them.

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But of course, I love some dragon books more than others, just as I favor some authors above others. And since I’ve recently reread the book for what must be the third or fourth time, it seems only natural that I speak about The Harper Hall Trilogy and Anne McCaffrey. These aren’t all of the books that McCaffrey has written, certainly not all of the ones about dragons, but I continue to find myself pulled back to them, the first two in particular. They aren’t even exactly about dragons, to be truthful, but the creatures that dragons came from. The main focus is on the fire lizards. What all dragons would have remained if the humans of Pern had not genetically engineered them to grow bigger and fight off the deadly Thread that falls from the planet’s Red Star on occasion. But these mini dragons are just as interesting to me as their larger and more highly focused on counterparts.

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My copy of the first book in the series is proof to that, as it has become largely mangled and torn from various rereadings as well as its age (it was published in 1976).

So why do I like it so much? The short answer would have to be the main character. Her name is Menolly and I love her. Menolly is a bit younger than most YA protagonists at fourteen, but this doesn’t stop her from being just as awesome as any of the more well known YA protagonists.

At the start of the novel Menolly lives with her family in the Sea Hold. This wouldn’t be much of a cause for trouble for most, but Yanus, Menolly’s father, makes everyone work with the fish and do other sea related chores, and sees music as pointless at best. Menolly prospers even among these conditions, and manages to leave the hold and Impress nine fire lizards. Basically I find her very impressive, especially since practically everyone in her original home is prejudiced against girls. I’ll leave it at that, so that anyone who wants to read Dragonsong can discover for themselves how she finds the lizards and survives without her hold. It really is amazing.