________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 1 . . . . September 4, 2009

cover

Me, Myself and Ike.

K.L. Denman.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2009.
192 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-086-2.

Subject Heading:
Schizophrenia in adolescence-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Kay Weisman.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.

excerpt:

My back tattoo starts to itch, and then I get this really weird sensation. It's as if the tattoo is coming to life. I know it's stupid. A tattoo can't come to life. It's nothing but ink. Unless the ink has something in it. What if Tony mixes nano-size transmitters in his ink? Or nano-robots? How would anyone know? The robots could start crawling around, enter the bloodstream, go into the brain and then . . . Then Tony could take control of my brain.

 

During his Grade 12 year, 17-year-old Kit Latimer becomes estranged from his family and friends, spending increasing amounts of time on the computer and in the company of a new acquaintance, Ike. After they view a documentary about Ötzi—the 5,000-year-old "Ice Man" discovered in Europe—Ike convinces Kit that he should become a 21st Century ice man, sacrificing himself in the mountains near his British Columbia home. To that end, Kit skips school to get tattooed (in the same designs as Ötzi), composes a manifesto, and begins assembling a collection of present day artifacts for future generations to find. Finally, towing their gear on a sled, Kit and Ike begin their wintry ascent up Forbidden Plateau.

     Denman, the author of Perfect Revenge (Orca, 2009) and several other teen novels, offers here an intensely edgy, first person account of a troubled teen descending into a paranoid, psychotic state. Sophisticated readers (and those who read the cataloging in publication summary) will be aware from the start that Kit is a less-than-reliable narrator. In the early chapters, he is angry but believable; as the story progresses, his thoughts become jumbled, ranting, and incoherent—especially his paranoia about the nano-robots that he imagines have entered his body through his tattoo and are now controlling his mind. Ike, too, will strike readers as odd. He appears (and disappears) out of nowhere, verbally abusing Kit and pushing him along with his suicidal plans. Although some readers may suspect early on that Ike is really a hallucination—a manifestation of Kit's developing schizophrenia—Denman cleverly (and definitively) reveals this to readers when Kit makes a video of Ike which, when replayed, shows only an empty passenger seat.

     Schizophrenia and planning a suicide are weighty topics for any teen to ponder, and this book may be too intense for some. Rest assured, Denman is a responsible, caring, and skilled writer who drops subtle breadcrumbs throughout her story and provides an after word explaining this mental illness to give younger readers some peace of mind. Those who pursue this story will find in Kit a likable (if flawed) protagonist with a caring (if sometimes clueless) family experiencing some perfectly believable school and home situations. Although other titles have dealt with schizophrenia in a sibling (Memories of Summer by Ruth White, Farrar, 2000 for example), Denman is to be commended for tackling this issue straight on.

Highly Recommended.

Kay Weisman is a Master of Arts in Children's Literature candidate at the University of British Columbia.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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