Denman (Perfect Revenge) offers a stark and fascinating portrait of a paranoid and delusional teenager. High school student Kit (a formerly popular kid who now sees his friends slipping away) and his friend Ike are obsessed with Ötzi the Iceman (a mummy discovered in the Alps in 1991) and fascinated by the insight into prehistoric man that his frozen body provided. They hatch a plan to gather artifacts of interest to future generations and freeze to death with them on a mountain, ensuring their eternal fame (“All those actors and rock stars—who's going to even know their names?” Ike says. “But a guy who's, like, a messenger from the past, that's special. Extraordinary”). As Kit gathers artifacts and deflects questions from friends and family, he writes a “manifesto” about modern culture and hangs out with the increasingly abusive Ike. Denman deftly gets into the head of a mentally unwell teenager while telling a coherent, engaging story. Few will be surprised by the eventual revelations, but Kit's descent into madness will keep readers hooked, and Denman wisely doesn't pretend that mental illness is easily resolved. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Keri Collins Lewis
Before Ike, Kit Latimer had everything a high school boy could wish for: a gorgeous girlfriend he really cared about, a secure position on the basketball team, and a loving family. But now that Ike is his primary influence, his life is a mess. His girlfriend broke up with him, his performance on the court failed catastrophically, and his grades have become so low he is in danger of not graduating. In this midst of this despair, Ike shares with Kit a brilliant idea: instead of living a worthless life, die a notable death. With careful planning, Ike reasons, Kit could make himself a human time capsule, leaving behind with his body a repository of materials and information to represent modern man, much like a 5,000 year old corpse discovered in the Italian Alps. Unable to deal with his life any longer, Kit begins writing his manifesto and plotting the details of his death. Creatively told and carefully plotted, this painfully realistic young adult novel by Canadian author K.L. Denman details the onset of mental illness, specifically a form of schizophrenia. Delicate crafting allows the reader to sense that Kit is an unreliable narrator with a skewed sense of reality, while also making him likable and sympathetic. As very few books deal with mental illness, this sensitive book is a valuable addition to any library collection. It will be of particular importance to families dealing with schizophrenia, and is also a book reluctant readers would find intriguing. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis
VOYA - Kevin Birrell
This novel relates an incredibly deep and emotional tale full of sharp details and vivid imagery. From it, one easily obtains a clear mental picture of what it is like to become paranoid and completely detached from the real world. Although the subject is slightly unsettling (even I was occasionally disturbed) and niche, the writing is incredible and should appeal to older YA readers with an interest in the subject. Reviewer: Kevin Birrell, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Rebecca C. Moore
Seventeen-year-old Kit's life used to be normalfull of basketball, friends, family, and a loving girlfriend. Now it feels empty of everything but the pushy and argumentative Ike. Ike accuses Kit of cowardice, driving him into accepting a dangerous challenge to create and freeze a time capsule that includes his own body as the ultimate artifact. While gathering items for the time capsule (music, drugs, condoms, a stolen Blackberry), Kit writes his manifesto and wonders why his life has changed. Mostly, though, he worries about the nanobots a tattoo artist injected into his skin. He also worries about all the people watching himespecially his family. Can Kit escape them in time? This harrowing journey through the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic never hits a wrong note. Especially laudable is Denman's ruthless adherence to Kit's point of view. Other people's feelings and reactions show only through their interactions with Kit, and Kit's swift deterioration shows only through his conversations with the imaginary Ike, his interpretation of events, and his increasingly incomprehensible writing. Demonstrating a powerful control over her prose, Denman builds Kit's decline in subtle increments that ramp up the suspense as readers note each new failing. Although Kit is not particularly likeable (and his manifesto rambles on and on), readers will feel a horrified sympathy for him and other schizophrenics. Denman follows the realistic ending with an afterword on schizophrenia and her research. Try this one with readers who like their stories dark and intense. Reviewer: Rebecca C. Moore
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Kit, 17, is a troubled youth who is being led astray by his friend Ike. Just the previous year, he had a circle of friends, a wonderful girlfriend, and a place on the basketball team. Now he hangs out more and more with Ike, coerced into thinking that he should hike to the top of a mountain in Strathcona Park, British Columbia, and bury himself in the snow in order to preserve his body, to be found hundreds if not thousands of years in the future. At times, Kit seems to resent the fact that Ike will not be sacrificing himself while he is encouraging Kit to commit suicide. In the meantime, Kit's parents know something is wrong, but just don't know what has happened to their once easygoing, affable son. Readers will eventually recognize that Ike is not real, but a hallucination caused by the onset of schizophrenia. While the story is about a young man with a mental illness, it is also a well-told, readable mystery, brimming with suspense. An author's note giving details about schizophrenia adds an additional level of clarity to the novel's ending.—Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD
What begins as compelling mystery degenerates into a tale of mental illness existing only for tragedy. Kit's lost touch with his old friends and is left with only the repellent Ike, a malcontent who goads him into shoplifting, getting an illegal tattoo and planning a dramatic mountaintop suicide. Through Kit's first-person perspective, readers see the rubble of relationships: an ex-girlfriend, confused family, baffled teachers. As he prepares for his suicide (in which he hopes his body will be frozen as a relic of the 21st century for future archaeologists) his narration becomes increasingly erratic. In a nice twist, Kit's thoughts remain comprehensible far longer than interspersed excerpts of his increasingly paranoid writing. He falls into an extremity of mental illness, avoiding death only by a highly unrealistic rescue, with no hope of character transformation from within. Ultimately, Kit makes no decisions that are not the product of his illness-which not only equates the protagonist with his disability but produces a bleak, pointless progression for an initially promising novel. (Fiction. 12-14)
"An intensely edgy, first person account of a troubled teen descending into a paranoid, psychotic state...Denman is a responsible, caring, and skilled writer who drops subtle breadcrumbs throughout her story and provides an afterword explaining this mental illness...Denman is to be commended for tackling this issue straight on. Highly Recommended."
Quill & Quire
"The fact that Denman exhibits such flexibility within the confines of a first-person narrative, while also maintaining the reader's feelings of empathy for Kit, is an undeniable accomplishment. While the writing is seamless, the subject matter is challenging...Completely riveting, suspenseful, and heartbreaking, Me, Myself and Ike is one of the best young adult releases of the year."
"Denman has done her homework in this novel. She does not waver from Kit's point of view, not an easy task when the main character's thinking is so disturbed....A compelling novel of a young man's descent into schizophrenia. Highly recommended."
The White Ravens 2010
"[This] harsh and oppressive teenage novel makes readers share the experiences of Kit as he looses touch with the real world around him and slips deeper into his illness."
What If? Magazine
"Readers looking for suspense and adventure will certainly find it here. I believe Me, Myself and Ike presents a well-researched glimpse into mental illness, and would recommend it for older teens."
Canadian Children's Book News
"This expertly crafted novel delves into the sensitive topic of mental illness while maintaining a story that is both touching and tragic."
Governor General's Literary Awards committee
"A gripping novel full of surprises. K.L. Denman's masterfully-crafted first-person narrative on schizophrenia sweeps the reader along...Denman manages to portray Kit in a way that is both realistic and sympathetic."
Prairie books NOW
"A powerful novel about the onset of mental illness."
TriState YA Book Review
"A heartbreaking look at the effects of indiagnosed schizophrenia...Recommended for school libraries where mental health issues are studied."
Puget Sound Council
"Denman illustrates her knowledge of the disease through the compelling portrait she paints of Kit losing touch with reality...An informative afterward addresses signs of schizophrenia and notes the challenges of living with the disease."
Read an Excerpt
The guys huddle closer and murmur; the girls' heads incline together and they whisper. They're all talking about me. I'll bet if they were naked I could see their tattoos. They've been taken. They're waiting for me to be taken too.
I force myself to walk past them, even though I have the overpowering urge to run. Or scream, tell them I know all about their plans. Why me? I'd like to ask them that. I hesitate. Maybe I should ask them. Maybe there's some shred of humanity left in one of them and they'll help me escape.