Stim by Kevin Berry
Contemporary, New Adult
Synopsis: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.
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ReviewI've only read one book about autism before this. So I don't have much experience in the subject, in books or otherwise. My parents are both teachers and my dad works in an elementary school that has a huge special ed program. Sometimes he'll tell me about how bad it gets, but I've never seen it myself, so I just don't know. I've heard of Asperger's but I really didn't know much about it. After reading this I'd hardly call myself an expert. But I do love that I know a little more than I did before.
The most endearing aspect of this book is definitely Robert himself. I'm sure he's not intentionally trying to be funny or amusing in any way. But something about how he thinks and how he reacts is just so... endearing. Heck, he had me questioning why people do these things and sat those things. He is highly intelligent, he just can't cope with social situations. Honestly, I can't blame him. I one of the 99% and even I don't understand people sometimes. Part of it is just obliviousness and lack of observance on my part. (Which is why I write sci-fi and not contemporary.) But even though Robert doesn't realize it, he's revealing a hell of a lot about human nature and how we communicate with each other. He's funny and charming and I loved him so much.
There were a few off-putting parts. Namely the oddly-named cat. And the whole girlfriend thing. This is just a warning, but it's NA for a reason. It took a while for me to get used to, but ultimately I just think it's humorous. He's rather adorable, but terribly clueless. It's hardly his fault, of course. And seeing it from his perspective makes you sympathetic towards him. But if I didn't know, I'd probably be offended, too. But like I said, reading this made me question why I would be offended. He's completely honest and blunt, but that's better and more productive than the kind of BS people give out every day. Myself included.
Robert was the amusing main character. Chloe was the bridge between Asperger's and the other 99% of the population. She was awkward in most social situations, but she deals with it way better than Robert. Probably because of her therapist and doctors, but still. Huge difference. Stef was kind of a flat character to me, that is until the last quarter of the book and then I saw her in a different light.
Overall, this was just a great read. The characters were great, the concept was great. I couldn't help laughing out loud at some parts. Honestly. When I say endearing, I mean it. The voice was new, refreshing, honest... I loved the way it transitioned from journal entry to plain ol' retelling. And I loved seeing Robert grow and change over the course of the book. It was short, but that hardly dampens the quality. This is definitely worth the read. And there are some absolutely amazing quotes.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Recommendation: anybody who likes contemporary and a needs a humorous new outlook on life
Kevin Berry is an indie author. His particular niche is writing Aspie New Adult contemporary novels set in an earthquake zone. The first of these is STIM, published in October 2013.
His first novels, co-written with Diane Berry, are Dragons Away!, Growing Disenchantments and Fountain of Forever (humorous fantasy). These are available as paperbacks and ebooks at Amazon and elsewhere.
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