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Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz
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Lizard Radio

by Pat Schmatz

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Fifteen-year-old Kivali is a young girl who has never fit in, having been treated as an outcast most of her life for being a bender (someone who doesn't neatly fit into either the male or female gender binary). She's survived her loneliness and fear of being sent to Blight by escaping into her mind and listening to "lizard radio," an internal broadcast that soothes her and makes her feel less alone. When she's sent to CropCamp in order to learn how to take her place in community, she discovers friendships and love beyond what she's known inside her own head.

Schmatz has created an interesting world in Lizard Radio, a world that can seem utopian if your considering it from the point of view of those who fit within the boundaries of its parameters, with it's emphasis on community. However, for those who don't fit in, benders, samers, and other outcasts, who are sent to live in Blight, the world would feel more dystopian. (Interestingly, being transgender is acceptable within this world, provided they fit neatly within either the female or male binary.) People can also vape in this world, a form of vanishing entirely, which could also be seen as good or bad depending on one's perspective.

I wouldn't really call this world realistic, but I don't expect that it's intended to be, at least not in the sense of being a world that could really exist. Rather, I think it's more designed as a way to examine the theme of ambiguity.

Nevertheless, the characters throughout the book are believable in how they think about and act in the world, and their relationships to each other provide a means of connecting to a story. I really enjoyed reading this. ( )
  andreablythe | Feb 12, 2017 |
This is a really great story of how a young person learns to take control of her own life in the face of personal bigotry, an authoritarian "troubled teens" program, and a literal dystopian government. It's also interesting to see a setting (other than Iran) where binary trans youth are treated relatively well, but LGB and non-binary folks are on the wrong side of the law. There's a lot of setting-specific jargon in this book, but most of it is pretty easy to figure out. My only complaint is that I wish the ending had been a little less ambiguous. I want to see Lizard win, at least a little! But this may be intentional. ( )
  lavaturtle | Dec 12, 2016 |
I was completely and utterly floored by this book. It's complex, mysterious, inspiring, heartbreaking - a story about a young person who walks on the boundaries of life, trying to find a way out of the rules. The world they live in is dystopian, but not so much more so than our own world. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Apr 22, 2016 |
LIZARD RADIO by Pat Schmatz is a thought-provoking dystopian novel exploring issues of identity, diversity, socialization, and the power of free will.

Set in an alternative universe, foster-child Kavali is sent to an agricultural camp for teens. Encouraged to conform and become part of the cooperative society, Kavali struggles to find her place. Is Kavali a human or lizard, a samer or bender, a he or a she? Her journey of self-discovery will have readers asking questions about the nature of reality and one’s place in the universe.

The fast-paced story and fascinating use of vocabulary will quickly immerse young adult readers in Kavali’s world. By weaving in elements of mysticism and the paranormal, Schmatz keeps readers wondering about the nature of reality in this parallel world.

Librarians tired of the same-old dystopian adventures will find Schmatz’s character-driven story refreshing. The gender-questioning protagonist will appeal to many coming-of-age youth who struggle with issues of identity.

To learn more about the author, go to http://www.patschmatz.com/.

Published by Candlewick on September 8, 2015. ( )
  eduscapes | Sep 27, 2015 |
If you are coming to this book because you loved the author's previous work, Bluefish, you will need to adjust your expectations going in. I don't know that I've read two books by the same author that were so radically different. That said, Lizard Radio is a fascinating look at belonging and identification, a little thinker of a book.

Kivali is a "bender," a person who has not conformed to either gender and is therefore sent to a sort of "last-chance" camp to decide her future.(She mostly identifies as female and uses female pronouns so I will as well.) When things are still, she can tune in to her own "Lizard Radio," an internal knowing similar to meditation or prayer. But the gender binary is but one of the absolutes presented to her. At camp, does she follow the rules or try to change them? Is she from this earth or was she dropped by the lizard people? And do our choices matter at all?

This could be a sleeper for a Printz nod and I would be delighted. ( )
  Brainannex | Jul 6, 2015 |
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