I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.STIM by Kevin Berry
on October 16th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Source: the author
Buy on Amazon
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.
Stim – to self-stimulate, especially with regular, rhythmic movements of parts of the body.
Anyone who knows me will recognize that I have a very eclectic reading style. I will read just about anything I can get my hands on. When I first saw this book, though, I was nervous. It was unlike anything I had ever attempted to read before, but I thought “why not?” I could see no good reason why I shouldn’t give it a shot. SOOOOO glad I did!
The synopsis didn’t give me any clue that it took place in New Zealand. I was thrilled when I read this, because I used to live there. It made me feel a little closer to home. But that’s not where it ended. I read a few more pages and found out that the main character, Robert, actually lived only blocks from my old home! Now, I not only felt closer to home, I WAS home! I recognized all of the street names! I used to walk through the University campus twice a day! It gave me an intense emotional connection to the story, that the majority of readers will not not have the chance to experience. I took this opportunity to make the most of this coincidence; I immersed myself entirely. I sat reading, my belly full of lamb, wearing my sheepskin scuffs (slippers), munching down on my Cookie Time cookies. Life doesn’t get any better than this!
Since I was so familiar with the setting, I took it for granted. Readers who aren’t as clear with the area will lose out on some of the finer details. I encourage readers to use Google to its fullest, especially the street view. Explore Riccarton, and the University of Canterbury campus. Most importantly, watch news videos from after the earthquake hit in 2011. It was devastating to the city, and economy. Thousands were without power, water, or even a roof over their heads. Pictures can’t begin to convey the amount of destruction, but it’s a place to start. I can’t express with words the amount of grief I felt, sitting a world away, waiting to hear if my friends were okay. My heart goes out to the citizens of Christchurch who not only struggle with daily earthquakes, but also a recent flood.
Some might say I am not normal, but more accurately, I could say that I am not typical. I perceive and experience life through the filter of ASD. But NS people perceive and experience life through filters, too… It is just that their filters are more prevalent than mine, that they think the way they see things is the ‘correct’ way, though it is simply the most common.
Robert has Asperger’s syndrome. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to relate to him, as I don’t know anyone with Asperger’s, but instead, I found myself incredibly attached and protective of him. Every time someone failed to understand or respect Robert, I wanted to reach through the pages of the book and throttle them! I am desperately hopeful that this book will bring awareness and acceptance to autism. Chloe, Robert’s friend and flat-mate, also has Asperger’s, but she seems to have it all figured out. She is able to navigate in a NS (non-spectrum) society, and helps Robert in adapting. I loved Chloe so much! From her name for the cat, the quirky way she plays Monopoly with Robert, to the way that she is vulnerable despite her bravado. She is just as susceptible at being overwhelmed! I can’t wait to read Kaleidoscope, which is her story, following the story in STIM. I haven’t been this excited for a sequel in years!
Be prepared for the writing style. It is very succinct, and usually lacks contractions. This is the first time I have approved of this style, as in this case it fits perfectly with the character. It combined with the story in a very real way. I can imagine that this might aggravate readers who aren’t prepared for it. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, but I welcomed the challenge and encourage readers to do the same.
I almost put a content warning on this book, but I stopped myself. There is nothing inappropriate in the content, but there are mature themes. Robert and Chloe have a blunt and honest approach to life, including sex and depression. There is also mild language, but I wouldn’t have an issue with my teen reading this, so I left off the warning. Use your own judgement, people!
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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.