Tag Archives: mental illness

Above by Leah Bobet

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So… I just finished this book the other day and I still don’t really know what happened… The whole thing was so vague and confusing.

Above features Matthew, a teenage boy living in a subterranean cave/subway system known as Safe. It’s a haven for people with oddities, like his late lion-footed father and gilled mother. The leader, Atticus, has crab claws instead of hands. Got it?

Matthew is Safe’s “Teller.” He records and repeats the stories and histories of all of the underground residents. He’s in love with Ariel, a flighty waif of a girl who shape-shifts into a bee when under stress. He found her in the tunnels.

Life in Safe is secure until it is attacked by a former outcast member and its band of shadows. Yep, shadows are the enemy here and they can only be kept at bay with a lit match and are only killed with a torch. Now the group must risk going Above and the Whitecoats (aka mad scientists) in order to survive.

Believe me, this sounds interesting as hell, right?? I was tricked!! TRICKED! Tricked again by a beautiful cover!

To be fair, the premise was great. Powers and mutations and ghosts and shadows and hermaphroditic bad guys/girls…. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, the stunted writing style, lack of description, and flat characters answered that question. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had to go back and re-read passages so many times. Bobet’s writing style made it hard to go with the flow and made things really unclear in many parts of the story.

Like I said, I read the whole book and I’m still not fully sure what happened.

The world was just not fleshed out enough, nor were the characters. All of them had weird names like Whisper or Corner and most of them went unexplained. And I HATED Ariel, Matthew’s love interest. I know she had a mental illness, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to punch her in the face. They could’ve avoided so much trouble if it weren’t for her!

I guess I was hoping it would have the haunting ethereal beauty of Tithe by Holly Black, but it didn’t even put its toe in the same swimming pool. Booo. Lots of amazing potential down the sewer.

2 burnt matches of 5

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St. Michael’s Scales by Neil O. Connelly

St. Michael’s Scales was a very strange piece of fiction.

The protagonist Keegan Flannery was born one-half of a set of twins. The other–his brother–Michael, died at birth. After his mother is committed to a mental hospital and his older brother runs away from home, Keegan is left with two brothers who ignore him and a father who doesn’t remember he exists. The only attention he gets at school is negative because of his extremely small stature. When he realizes that his father has been telling people his mother is dead rather than face the embarrassment of owning up to the facts–Keegan begins having dreams of his dead twin. All at once, he knows how to right the wrong done to his family.

He must kill himself before his 16th birthday.

But when a fluke absence allows him a spot as a featherweight on his high school’s wrestling team, things begin to change. Not only is he dreaming of his brother Michael, now he is beginning to hallucinate fighting with him. He knows that Michael was the brother that should have lived, and the thought haunts him every day.

Being raised Catholic, knowing that suicide is a mortal sin…will Keegan go through with his plan to kill himself, or has wrestling given him something to live for?

SMS was a very weird novel. It reminded me of A Prayer for Owen Meany, not only because of the religious aspects but also because Keegan and Owen both fit the same physical description. They also both had a mission they were planning on carrying out, and both knew that it would lead to their untimely demise.

I never truly felt attached to Keegan, and while I felt sympathy for his family situation, I didn’t understand why or how he thought his suicide would rectify the tribulations his family had gone through. Also, with a history of mental illness in his family, he should’ve begun to realize that he wasn’t in his right mind when he began to see visions of his brother. Rather than him viewing his dead twin as some sort of spiritual guardian, he viewed him as a malevolent force to be reckoned with.

All the blame for those feelings should be placed solely on his parents shoulders, especially his father’s for ignoring him.  AND not only did his mother always get a dually-named cake–she also would force Keegan to pick out one of his presents and bring in to the cemetery each year on his birthday. It’s understandable to want to remember a dead child and keep him a part of the family, but not to the detriment of the living children. No wonder Keegan felt he played second fiddle.

I wasn’t a fan of this book, and I would not recommend it.

2 wrong-hearted Jesus of 5