- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Candlewick (September 8, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0763676357
- ISBN-13: 978-0763676353
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lizard Radio Hardcover – September 8, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—All great heroes begin with mythical origins. Fifteen-year-old Kavali is no exception. When she was a baby, she was abandoned on a sidewalk, swaddled in a T-shirt with a lizard printed on the front. Since then, she has questioned her true identity. Is she a boy or a girl? A lizard or a human? This work is set in the not-too-distant future, in which the government closely monitors gender, occupation, and emotion. When Kavali is thrown into CropCamp, a camp where teenagers learn how to grow organic crops as initiation into adulthood, she begins to question whether she should forfeit her individuality to become a cooperative part of society. Ultimately, Kavali rises above the challenges, discovers her true origins, and makes her own destiny. The themes in Schmatz's novel surpass in complexity many of its contenders in YA dystopian fiction. The author's storytelling unravels question upon question for readers, not only about Kavali but also about the power of free will. VERDICT An entertaining and thought-provoking read, this title will be a big hit for those who want something deeper from their dystopian fiction.—Jaclyn Anderson, Madison County Library System, MS
The themes in Schmatz’s novel surpass in complexity many of its contenders in YA dystopian fiction. The author’s storytelling unravels question upon question for readers, not only about Kavali but also about the power of free will. An entertaining and thought-provoking read, this title will be a big hit for those who want a little something more from their dystopian fiction.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Sophisticated, character-driven science fiction, as notable for its genderqueer protagonist as for its intricate, suspenseful plot.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Schmatz conjures up sympathetic characters and an intriguing premise...a thoughtful and intriguing look at the teenage search for identity.
Schmatz paints a beautiful story with the use of amazingly diverse and well-developed characters. Kivali’s struggle to find where she belongs is highly relatable to a variety of readers, especially those who struggle with their own gender identity as Kivali does...Any person who has trouble fitting in will greatly enjoy this book.
In a sea of post-apocalyptic and dystopian young adult novels with female heroes, Lizard Radio stands out. Unusual, mildly magical, and well paced, Kivali’s quest to dismantle the system manages to be unique yet relatable. The distinct dystopian world, the genderbending protagonist, and the socially conscious writing provoke questions about Kivali’s (and the reader’s) reality.
—The Horn Book
...there are rewarding revelations rooted in character development.
Lizard as a character is endearing from the start, relying on a pretend Saurian identity to push the idea that she doesn’t fit...Sci-fi buffs who love character-driven novels and teens on the GLBTQ spectrum who are looking for a book that isn’t realistic fiction will all find much to appreciate in this clever, edgy novel.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
This work of science fiction addresses complex issues and deep questions, and would be an outstanding addition for all library collections.
—School Library Connection
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In some ways it reminded me more of Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road (another lovely, heartbreaking, weird YA novel that everyone should read) than of most of the dystopians I've read. The narrator's story is deeply personal and raw and very much has its own language, which is pretty much up to the reader to sort out - Kivali's story is Kivali's, and you can come along, but you'd better keep up, because Kivali has enough trouble trying to understand herself without worrying about whether everyone else understands her, too.
I say "herself" and "her" because that's what the book description uses, and that's what other characters in the book use to refer to Kivali, but I do so with reluctance, as it's not entirely clear to me that those are the pronouns Kivali would use if given a choice. Possibly my favorite thing about the book-- if I had to pick a favorite-- is how it deals with Kivali's gender and the subject of gender identity in general. Kivali's world is actually one which is totally okay with transgender people... IF those transgender people fit into a very narrow, limiting vision of what it is to be trans, and what it is to be masculine or feminine. It's not really far off from the way that the real-world medical community -- and following their lead, many of the more "progressive" parts of the community at large -- have treated trans folks in recent decades, which is really only starting to change now (and changing very slowly). If -- like Kivali -- you are boy and girl and both and neither, you are frequently still SOL, in Kivali's world or the real one. This is the first book I've read which I felt really hit at the core of that in a believable way, and -- as someone who is nonbinary myself -- I really appreciated it. It's still incredibly rare to see NB characters at all in fiction and rarer still to see them done -well.-
Anyway. Lizard Radio is probably not the book for everyone, but gosh, I wish everyone would read it anyway. While I don't think it would speak to every reader equally, or in the same way, I think an awful lot of people who might not immediately -relate- to Kivali's story could nonetheless find some ideas in there seriously worth thinking about. And whether or not YA dystopian is normally your thing, as noted, this is a YA dystopian which... really doesn't feel at all like any other YA dystopian I've read. So-- very much worth giving a try, if you're at all interested.
The lingo definitely makes it hard to get into the story, for me. I didn't find myself able to immerse myself in the story until I got the late teen chapters. Then I said "Screw the lingo, just go with the flow." The author's writing style was a bit weird in many parts for me, but in those tense dramatic parts, they were flawless. The characters became molded and shaped as the story progressed, Kivali included. And it was beautiful to read. I would hope this is continued.
The narrator for the audio book did an excellent job performing this novel and brought to life all the characters with dignity, humor, and verve.
As a person in the gender gray area with a strong belief in the supernatural, the mystical and in prophetic radio waves, I understood Kivali deeply. I understood her longing for having a higher purpose, of trying to find where she fit when she really didn't fit anywhere, and finding strength in that rather than succumbing to weakness. Moving to the beat of your own radio is hard, in fiction as Kivali finds, and in real life, as I can attest to. Any trans person would enjoy reading this book, and enjoy reading a character who doesn't exist just to land their book on a trans representation reading list.
It's hard to find the words, but this book gives me hope. Especially because our world isn't like Kivali's - yet. We're just beginning to see the binaries all around us, constricting our society and culture, and as Kivali learns, there's such a thing as being both and neither. And it's a beautiful, amazing thing.