by Kevin Berry
Publication date: January 3rd 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
The sequel to STIM…an Aspie new adult contemporary novel set in an earthquake zone.Chloe is different. She has Asperger’s Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder and probably a few other inconvenient conditions as well. She’s a quirky, resourceful and clever psychology student, but her world is literally about to be shaken apart. A devastating earthquake sparks a chain of events that spiral her life out of control. She’s off her meds. Her oddly-named cat is missing. She doesn’t know what she wants out of life any more. Misfortune and uncertainty don’t mix well with bundles of energy and Chloe’s tendency to ignore consequences. It’s as if mayhem and trouble are her constant companions.Will Chloe be able to cope with the earth-shaking events that rock her world?
Kaleidoscope begins just before Chloe and Robert’s new semester at school, as Chloe is returning from an unsatisfactory summer visit with her father. She’s looking forward to getting back to her usual setting and routines…little does she realize as the novel starts out that life will soon be anything but routine–troubling for anyone, but particularly problematic for Chloe.
Chloe has Asperger’s Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder (which she doubts, because she “can concentrate on most things for as much as several minutes at a time”), Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and dyscalculia, as well as other disorders she doesn’t list for us. In short, she’s on a lot of meds, and maintaining a specific order for just about everything in her life is very important to her.
Unfortunately, her world is thrown almost right away when she finds out that her roommates Stef (also her cousin) and Robert (also an Aspie, and Chloe’s boyfriend) have moved to a new house in her absence–events at the end of book one (Stim, Robert’s book) have led to making the move necessary–but no one told Chloe until she got off the plane. Now Chloe can’t walk to university anymore, and she has to figure out where to put all of her things (she has certain clothes for each day of the week, and each day must have its own drawer–but her new dresser has only six drawers–a problem), and Robert’s already started reshelving her books for her, which means she’ll probably have to rearrange them as soon as he’s done…
I felt hesitant about letting anyone, even Robert, sort through my books one by one. They’re too personal. Seeing and touching all of someone’s books is a bit like fondling their underwear.
(A disturbingly apt simile…it was too good not to use it!)
And that’s all before the earthquake hits.
It happens in the middle of a school and work day, just as Chloe was sitting down to get started on her course reading for the new school year.
I sat and pulled out a photocopy of “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognising One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments” (Kruger & Dunning, 1999) an article I was supposed to read for Psychology. This actually sounded intriguing. I’d always wondered why losers and idiots think they’re talented at everything.
(Chloe doesn’t see the point in prevarication, as you discover about one-point-two seconds into the novel.)
Next thing she knows, her dresser being one drawer short is no longer such a big issue–she’s lost all of her clothes. And her cat. And her cousin–Stef’s older sister is MIA. It takes her a few more days to realize she doesn’t have her meds, either.
But by then she’s discovered coffee, and an energy she never had before. Why fix what’s not broken? Clearly the drugs were only holding her back…
Some of my favorite bits were when she talked about becoming a bestselling novelist, one of her new post-meds life goals:
“What makes you think you can write a bestseller?” demanded Stef. “Apart from your university essays, you’ve never written anything longer than a shopping list.”
“I’m going to buy heaps of books about writing bestsellers. I’ll read them, and then I’ll just do it. Obviously.”
Because that’s totally how it works, right?
Dealing with a devastating act of nature would be hard enough for anyone, but for someone like Chloe who’s also suddenly taken off meds? Recipe for disaster. Watching her nearly lose everything and then try to wrest her life back is quite a journey–with many funny and moving moments along the way. Kaleidoscope is definitely a worthy sequel to Stim.
(Kaleidoscope could probably work as a standalone if needed, but getting the full picture of these two characters’ lives from both sides–Stim is from Robert’s point of view–will definitely enhance the reading experience.)
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.