Why I’m DNF-ing Calvin by Martine Leavitt

As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes.

He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson.

DNF at pg 80.

And, to be honest, I only made it that far because I had time to kill between sessions, and it was the only book in my car.

I had picked this book up at McNally Robinson while in Saskatoon a couple months back. It looked really interesting, had some great accolades on the back cover, and, as someone who loved Calvin and Hobbes as a kid, I felt the need to see what it was all about.

It started out okay. Misfit at school suddenly has a psychotic break, resulting in him seeing talking tigers and believing that there is a strange connection between him and the character of Calvin from the comic strip. Cool. I’m down with that.

And that’s about where I stopped enjoying it. As with all DNFs, it’s just a matter of preference, but I like writing about books I don’t enjoy, so let’s do this.

Things I Liked:

Schizophrenia rep! How often do we get books with characters with schizophrenia? It was really great to see.

It was cool to see a book incorporate such a popular comic!

Yay for books set in Canada!

Things I Didn’t Like:

This book was 90% dialogue. It was honestly like reading a script, with a few bits of setting in and around it. You have no idea what the thought process behind any of the dialogue is, how the line is being said, or even what’s being done while they’re saying it. It makes it hard to enjoy because you’re given nothing to go by.

Calvin was supposed to be 17 and in grade twelve, but it was hard to remember this because he and Susie acted like he was 12-14 years old. They both acted and spoke child-like, and it was disappointing in a book supposed to be about almost-adults. It would have been one thing if this was categorized as middle grade, but it was harder to swallow in young adult.

And speaking of the characters, I honestly didn’t care if they fell through the ice on Lake Erie and drowned. Maybe because there was absolutely no development for either of them, and the lack of information from the dialogue-only writing, I don’t know. Actually, them falling through the ice might have made the book more exciting.

As of page 80, a whole lot of nothing had happened. Calvin is in the hospital with schizophrenia, he breaks out, they go to the store, they start hiking across the lake. And nothing was particularly interesting about any of that, because it felt super glossed over.

So, all in all, this book isn’t for me, and I won’t be continuing with it. I’m glad that I tried it, though.

If you’d like to check it out for yourself, you can buy this book from Book Depository.

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