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Lizard Radio

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  774 ratings  ·  196 reviews
Fifteen-year-old Kivali has never fit in. As a girl in boys’ clothes, she is accepted by neither tribe, bullied by both. What are you? they ask. Abandoned as a baby wrapped in a T-shirt with an image of a lizard on the front, Kivali found a home with nonconformist artist Sheila. Is it true what Sheila says, that Kivali was left by a mysterious race of saurians and that she ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  774 ratings  ·  196 reviews

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Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Closer to 4.5 stars than 4, honestly. This book is weird as hell and I love it. The characters are fantastic (especially Kivali herself), the prose and narrative style are pitch-perfect, and the gender stuff made my little nonbinary heart ache.

I saw in some other reviews that a lot of people got hung up on the dystopian setting and not getting answers as to what Lizard Radio really is, and I can't help but feel like they're maybe missing the point of the book a bit? Which, IMO, wasn't to set up
This wasn't my usual read but I enjoyed in because it was so different. It's a dystopia, set in a near-future world with a powerful government that forces teens to be made into conforming adults. It's here we meet Lizard, who is sent to one of these camps at a very young age, and her challenge is she doesn't conform to a gender. She IDs as female, has female pronouns, but the bulk of the story is about being in that gray area -- of being two things at once. But while it is about gender, it's abo ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
My bookgroup read this one and I'm sad to say I missed the discussion! So now I'm forced to assess this story on my own (the humanity!).

Lizard Radio isn't a story that hands you things - readers have to pick up a lot on their own as they go (the setting, the terminology, etc) and while the physical setting for the main character (Lizard) is well described and very clear, the larger societal context/world view is probably going to leave some readers wanting at the end.

I'll admit that I had some
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Do you want to read a dystopian novel with a genderqueer protagonist who may or may not be part lizard? If this sounds like something you didn’t know you wanted, Lizard Radio is the book for you.

It’s a hard book to describe. Our protagonist, Kivali – familiarly known as Lizard, was abandoned as a baby (wrapped in a lizard t-shirt!). Lizard is adopted by Sheila, a human woman who becomes her foster mom and sends her, at the opening of the novel, to CropCamp. The novel takes off from there – CropC
Diana Green
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 rounded up for the thoughtful nuanced portrayal of a genderqueer protagonist. We need more of this kind of representation! As a mother of someone who deals with being nonbinary in our often transphobic society, the themes of Lizard Radio went straight to my heart.

This book is wonderfully strange, inventive, and unpredictable. While I understand reviewers' complaints about the lack of explanation for certain plot elements, I feel that just wasn't the point of this story. Yes, some of the wor
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have a question. Does any teen ever think that they fit in?
I'm pretty sure the answer is No.
In fact, I don't think many people at all, at least in the US, feel comfortable on their path and in their skin. Otherwise why so many self-help books and New Year's resolutions and Finding Happiness books?

So I get pretty tired of books that pick a Differentness and then develop a character who suffers from it (but then of course eventually learns to embrace it or possibly even recover from it, often [
Interesting characters, but poor world-building, this works better as a camp story than a dystopian in a lot of ways. I'm still not sure exactly what Lizard Radio is... this book had me thinking "is it good, or is it just weird?" ...more
Kara Babcock
Lizard Radio is a lovely, messy, very queer book with queer characters. I enjoyed it and also didn’t, if you know what I mean—I’m glad I read it, but reading it was a bit of a chore, because Pat Schmatz’s style is quite distinctive. This feels more like a novella than a novel to me, despite its length, because it doesn’t quite have the narrative completeness I desire, personally, in my novels. Nevertheless, Kivali’s journey is extremely interesting and powerful—and especially for teens who are q ...more
S. James
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
I am so frustrated with this book because it contains some really good ideas but executes them poorly. There's so little description of the society's context outside this camp that I don't really get the urgency for these characters to pass or fail. I get that they'll be sent to Blight, but the structure of the society is so vague, the world built around this book is shaky. If it had been built better I think the book would be much stronger for it.

What frustrated me most, though, (view spoiler
Weird, interesting, but in some ways unsatisfying, Lizard Radio is a dystopian sci-fi novel that gives the reader little context and a lot of new vocabulary. We never really find out why this world has become so Orwellian, and that bothered me. Our protagonist, Kivali, is a "bender"--one whose sex and gender don't line up properly, as far as the authorities at SayFree, the government organization that is running the show, is concerned. Her identity as a bender, especially one who has chosen not ...more
I have never read a book like Lizard Radio. It's uncomfortable, it's fascinating, and it's engaging. It's also confusing, haunting, and heart-breaking. But it's also oddly affirming. So basically, it isn't easy to quantify. Still, I highly suggest picking it up and giving it a try.

Some of the language/slang is a awkward to get used to, but the meanings are clear enough. It's 100% a dystopia novel, but even if that isn't your thing, it's very character driven and emotion driven. Less about the d
Jordan Funke
In the future, gender roles are very prescribed, but they don't have to match your biological sex. Kids are tested early and encouraged to transition if they show an affinity for the other gender. What's not allowed is being somewhere in the middle. Our protagonist is in the middle. She doesn't want to transition but she doesn't fool anyone when she tries to be feminine. Instead she considers herself a lizard and hopes the Saurian alien species will take her home with them. The story takes place ...more
Suzanne Rooyen
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt-reads
I loved a lot about this book, but I didn't fall for it as hard as I wanted to. I also wanted more out of the ending, which felt a little anticlimactic to me.

This book is an excellent example of a scifi novel that is more about character and less about plot. If you're looking for a more introspective dystopian YA novel, then this is definitely a book worth reading, never mind how cool it is to find a YA scifi novel with a genderqueer/genderfluid protagonist!
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Why would anyone ever need a made up sci-fi slang word for shoe?!?!
This book was AMAZEBALLS.

seriously readitreaditreaditreaditreaditreaditreaditreaditreaditreaditreaditreaditreadit

With poetic prose and an intriguing main character, Lizard Radio sucked me right in. Not only was it wonderful to have a character who is nonbinary, IT IS UPLIFTING AND DOESN'T FALL INTO THE "rape the queer" TROPE. THANK THE GODS. It isn't preachy, it has flavorful and layered characters, and gorgeous surreal imagery. Freaking YES. YES!

It's a Dystopian Young Adult novel unlike any I
Apr 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Teenaged Kivali is ordered to attend a government camp aimed at making her a compliant, group-oriented citizen. While there she struggles between what the camp tells her, what she feels, and what she was taught at home by her adopted mother and meditation mentor. I appreciated the gender bending main character--there are very few I've come across--and I loved the way she thinks of lizards and dragons as avatars, helpers, friends, and family. Her imagination is wonderful, and the way she uses is ...more
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
In the same vein as Feed and Westerfeld's Uglies series, Schmatz creates an all-new vocabulary for a near-future world where gender is a conversation. The main character, nicknamed Lizard, goes to a camp where she meets a variety of characters and the readers learns about this world where young adults nearing adulthood go to a camp to learn, commune, and understand in order to enter (or not enter or repeat) the adult world.

I was frustrated mostly with the setting of the story in terms of unders
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Such great potential but a disappointment. When you write something like this, there has to be at least a smidgen of world-building and there was none here, nothing at all about the society and it's rules and motivations. ...more
This book is really lovely, teetering between four and five stars for me, but at the end if the day, I think it's an important and charming story, so it gets the bump higher. It's about a genderqueer teenager with a strong connection to lizards, at a farming summer camp designed to transition teenagers into adulthood in a dystopian society. The support and love the characters have for each other throughout the book, even in the face of a society that is trying to crush them into conformity, is r ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-stars, lgbt-main
This book said nonbinary RIGHTS...

The start was a little slow, but about a quarter of the way through it picked up and then I couldn't put it down. Wonderful characters (including the main character, who had a fantastic narrative voice) and weird in a really, really great way, but the thing that stood out most to me was that this was SUPER cathartic to read as a nb person, especially as a nb lesbian. I felt deeply connected to Kivali in a way that I haven't felt connected to even other LGBT char
Dec 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: gnc, three-star
While the story itself kinda dragged on and it took forever for the story to reach a plot, the last 60 pages or so holding most of the action, which I didn’t like, I don’t think I’ve related to a characters gender and sexuality struggle more. The tie ins between being nonbinary and gay, while struggling to find yourself as a person was amazing and so relatable. It was more of a coming of age story in a scifi trench coat. The world building was extremely good, though it could be confusing at time ...more
Kayley Hyde
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I'll talk more about this book in my July wrap-up video, but this was almost certainly a case of "it's not you, it's me." The genre is not my favourite (sci-fi/dystopian) and as such, I found myself annoyed at some of the language (I cannot take phrases like “zoom zoom” seriously), the plot itself didn't appeal, etc. However, I found the exploration of gender, the rigidity of the world and need for conformity, and the diversity in general to be awesome and I know this book would be so important ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really, really wanted to like this book more than I actually did... the problem was that there were so many made-up words and names and events that I never had the chance to feel a part of Lizard's world.

An interesting read, but ultimately very difficult to follow.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a weird little book. This book explores gender in such a unique way. If you are interested in a genderqueer mc who might be an alien, a dystopian summer camp, or amazingly written friendships, read this! This book surprised me. I've never read anything like it. ...more
I did not like this as much as I wanted to, though I did think it was an interesting look at gender nonconformity in a society with strict gender rules.

(view spoiler)
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Solid 3, more likely leaning toward 3.5
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-fantasy, queer, butch
Extremely odd, original in a way that baffled me - not sure if I was missing something?
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the characters, idea, and writing in this book, but I felt the weird choices of space-age slang in the book made it hard to understand at times, especially because there was little explanation as to what they meant.
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, queer-books
I was going to wait to review this book until I had it sorted out in my head, but I’ve been thinking about it and I don’t think I’m ever going to sort it out. So heads up for a somewhat confused review written by a somewhat confused reviewer.

After I finished reading this, I tried to explain it to my fiance, which involved me giving a tangent-filled, disorderly, and increasingly agitated account of the events of Lizard Radio that ended with him completely baffled and me not even sure what I was t
Andrea Blythe
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 f ...more
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Pat grew up in rural Wisconsin and has lived in Michigan, California, and Minnesota. In addition to writing, she’s interested in language study (ASL, Italian, Japanese and Spanish), drawing/cartooning, travel and anything outdoors. She occasionally teaches writing on-line and in person, and is always happy for a chance to visit a middle school or high school classroom. Her #1 favorite hobby, relax ...more

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