Monday, March 10, 2014

Review - Stim by Kevin Berry

Kevin Berry
Contemporary, New Adult

Robert is different. He has Asperger’s Syndrome. He experiences the world differently to 99% of the population. Follow his entertaining and highly empathetic story as he struggles to realise and accept who he really is, try to understand other people—which he cannot—and find a girlfriend. Especially find a girlfriend—he’s decided it’s his special project for the year. Accompanied on this transformative journey by his quirky flatmates, Chloe (who also has Asperger’s, amongst other things), Stef (who hasn’t, but doesn’t mind) and their oddly-named kitten, Robert endures a myriad of awkward moments in his quest to meet a nice, normal girl…and not even a major earthquake will stop him.

This absorbing and humorous story is starkly told from Robert’s point of view, through the kaleidoscope of autistic experience.

My Review
Robert's book truly is written in Robert's voice. Rarely is a character so powerfully shown through text, but the author has done a sterling job with Robert. This will either enchant you or drive you bonkers - people with Asperger's Syndrome have a tendency to ramble off-topic and "info dump", and at times Robert tested my patience with the story itself. But it is sweet. It has a way of luring you in so that you feel unable to get angry with the character.

The real gem of this work is the way that it allows the reader a glimpse into the Autistic Spectrum world in a way that no textbook could. It does so in a story that is heartwarming and funny. Robert is not light-years away from Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, complete with awkward reactions to social situations, except that Robert truly has heart and cares for people. He is honest to a fault and lays his emotions bare, usually with disastrous or hilarious consequences.

The negative points in this book are related to the flow. In some places the amount of detail is over-the-top and in others the scenes felt incomplete, without the expected build-up or genuine emotions conveyed to the reader. This is a side-effect of having two main characters with AS - emotions can be a rollercoaster of enormous or non-existent - but it left me feeling a little let-down. I wanted to experience it all, and instead the ending left me hanging with a blunt resolution that felt slightly unfinished.

I originally wanted to read this because I have a family member with AS, but believe the book has appeal even if you don't. The story is strong enough to stand on its own.

I give the book four stars. I was provided a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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