A dark and lonely vision from the mind of a new schizophrenic. A story told from the point of view from Alex Katsumoto a teen tyrant now turned Mormon who grew up looking after his mother who has a severe case of schizophrenia.
The second book in the Shattered Castle series we are focused on Alex, half American and half Japanese. Alex grew up looking after is mom, with no help from the community or even school Alex was piratically a mute until he started talking to Madison. Alex renounces his faith and becomes apart of the Mormon Community who open their arms to the notorious trouble maker. Alex leaves for his mission with the Mormons in which he'll be gone for two years but not before he breaks Madison's heart.
Two years later and Alex has his first psychotic episode in an underground subway in Japan to which he is hospitalized and is told he has the tendencies of a schizophrenic but cannot fully diagnosed as it's just early stages. But Alex knows, he knows it's not a one time thing and that he finally realises he will lose his mind just like the woman he grew up with.
Returning home Alex has to confront his past which includes Madison and her older brother John, who warns Alex to stay away from his sister. Eventually with the help of the community that once failed him he starts to gain friendships he never had when growing up, but can he really rely on anyone once his mental illness takes over?
WHAT I THOUGHT
A beautifully written story. So much happened in the first book that I was then excited to read about Alex's story. Unfortunately for me I have someone who is close to me in my family who has been recently diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia and seeing Alex's story is like reading the story of said family member and it's actually quite heartbreaking.
Once Alex has his first episode he realises he might not be able to go back to the person he was before his mission. When Alex was with Madison it was her who suggested he should complete his community service helping out in a home for the disabled (as he smashed up Officer Li's police car in book 1). Realising he had a gift he carried it on as a job and learning the best ways to help other people just before his mission.
The story was hard to read but the depth was great, i don't think i've read a book detailing both the physical and mental suffering someone has to go through when dealing with a mental illness not only that but someone who doesn't feel he should have help even when his support system is rather large.
Alex is a strong but stubborn character, seeing first hand just what the illness did to his mother and to himself when growing up he can't even begin to think to put anyone else in his shoes once the role is switched. Once Alex turns around his ways and starts helping out he gains respect from almost anyone and even though he feels he cannot carry on helping out those who need help once he is back from his mission he is still there to offer support to those who need it. This i believe is Alex's downfall, his selfless ways actually adds strain and instead of looking after number one he is bombarded with looking after everyone else causing him to have two more episodes, both in which were rather bad.
Alex's story isn't just focused on his life and his learning of his mental stability there is a focus on Madison, his girlfriend in book one. Alex is completely in love with Madison and his love hasn't dwindled in the two years apart. The only problem is that he cannot put her through what he went through when he had to nurse his mother. So every encounter they have with each other Alex is constantly pushing her away.
Madison was our main character in the first book and seeing her from a different POV is different. I actually preferred her character in book one. In this book she appears needy and actually quite selfish, knowing Alex's reasoning to why they shouldn't get back together she simply ignores him and is constantly pushing him which unfortunately cause more upset to his mental state.
One of the main things i loved about this book it the different ethic groups, for once we have a young adult book that doesn't just focus on the White-American or White-British, I'm sure a lot of readers out there would agree with me that this is something we've picked up on and we definitely need to bring more of this into young adult. So this is one thing I'm extremely happy about.
To me young adult is all about the exploration of life for those still growing up, it is to learn and to grow with these books and unlike new adult it isn't just exploration of love and lust, it's many thing and one of these things is mental illness sometimes the idea of anyone having a mental illness or it being mentioned is rather taboo but what this story shows us is that there are various forms and what you think you may know about someone's mental state could be completely wrong.
This book of course focuses on the mental illness of Schizophrenia but we are also introduced to Bi-Polar Disorder and other challenging lifestyles such as Autism and Down Syndrome introducing these is great but unfortunately for me the downfall was all of a sudden there was an influx of of all these lifestyles in the book. I wasn't too sure if it was the authors intention to relay to her readers that disability and mental illness is more common than everyone thinks and that reason alone is beautiful but I just felt that all of a sudden there were all these new people with different issues and they just kept coming, which was why I only gave 4*.
To me this series should be read by everyone, they really do concentrate on a variety of issues. To me it's not just about reading a story it's about being educated.
The covers a beautifully done and I really do love the covers in this series, they're not too over dramatic and they don't focus on anything in particular the cover lets us think and find out own assumptions on the story without it being shoved into our faces.