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Stay Crazy

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  51 reviews
After a breakdown at college landed Emmeline Kalberg in a mental hospital, she's struggling to get her life on track. She's back in her hometown and everyone knows she's crazy, but the twelve pills she takes every day keep her anxiety and paranoia in check. So when a voice that calls itself Escodex begins talking to Em from a box of frozen chicken nuggets, she's sure that ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 16th 2016 by Apex Book Company
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  134 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A walk through severe mental illness with an unreliable narrator and an intangible, invisible alien.

Emmeline ("Em") is a paranoid schizophrenic with depressive tendencies. We follow her as she leaves the mental hospital where she's been since a psychotic break three weeks into college. Em is smart, but her medications and mental issues leave her unable to do much except take a job at the local Savertown USA. The place where suicide is a weekly event and the chicken nuggets talk to her, telling h
Frank Errington
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Review Copy

I really didn't know what to expect with Stay Crazy. An unfamiliar author and a story which didn't drop neatly into one of my preferred genres, but I'm very happy that I took a chance on this one.

Em is a paranoid schizophrenic with depressive tendencies. She is being treated for her illness, but like many people she struggles with staying on her meds. When she starts working part-time at a local big box store, she is contacted by a being from another dimension who attempts to recruit
Beth Cato
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, 2016
I received a free copy of the book from the publisher. Stay Crazy will be released on August 16th.

Satifka's debut novel straddles genre lines like many of the complicated, dark stories that publisher Apex publishes in its magazine. The book's description makes it sound weird and perhaps fluffy, and while it is weird in many ways, there's also a thorough and often raw exploration of mental illness.

In a way, it's a dystopia novel set in modern small town America; the place is blighted, and its on
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-english
"Sometimes knowing isn't enough. Isn't that what I learned about my hallucinations? Just knowing this is a product of the entity doesn't make it any less real when I'm in its grip."

Stay Crazy is told from the perspective of Emmeline, a girl who's struggling with a mental illness that makes her hallucinate and gives her paranoia induced anxiety attacks. In order to get her life on track again her mother pushes her to get a job at a local store. Soon weird things start happening: one after the oth
M.P. Johnson
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The way this book handles heavy mental health issues and messes with the unreliable narrator without sacrificing humor and action is impressive. Overall this is a fun, thoughtful read that is worth checking out.
Justin Isis
Sep 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Science fiction, worth getting for the strictly realistic elements as well.
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I purchased this from the author at Worldcon in 2016, and I wish I had read it sooner. Maybe in another dimension some other version of me did.

The blurb on the cover compares Satifka to Philip K. Dick, which is somewhat apt, especially if you, like me, appreciate the weird humor of Dick's writing that the movie adaptations never get right. But Satifka is also her own author with her own style, weirdness, and sense of humor. I laughed out loud a lot while reading this,
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it

The nitty-gritty: A laugh-out-loud spoof of super stores and inter-dimensional invasion, with surprising human moments intertwined with the humor.

Nothing ever changes here, she thought as she removed her shirt, again dreaming of the day she would be allowed to cast off this place. She would take Kevin and together the two of them would steal his sister’s car and drive off into the sunset. Where would they end up? Not Pittsburgh. They had to think bigger.

The striking graphic n

Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Good listeners
Recommended to Alan by: Name recognition
Woo-hoo! Congratulations, Erica, on the publication of your first novel!

As you can probably tell, I do have a personal connection to this one. Erica Satifka is a Portland author who was the instructor of a writing class I was taking a year or two ago. We didn't get to hear a lot of her own prose in that particular class, but it was easy to tell she knew what she was talking about. Seeing her name on the cover of Stay Crazy was, therefore, an immediate draw.

One warning, though: This book brings u
Silvia Moreno-Garcia
They Live but at a Walmart. The premise of a supermarket employee who is the only person that can save Earth from an interdimensional, alien force carries the book through, even if at points the ride gets a bit lumpy. I'm not used to hearing this kind of voice from a writer (everyone is often upper class and having upper class problems), and there's a B-movie glee which shows promise from Satifka for future work. I'll look for more stuff from her in the future. ...more
Sep 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
*I luckily won a Review eBook of this through LibraryThing*

First off: this was the first time I received a review copy, and I was quite interested to see how it would go – what if I really disliked the book?
Well, guess what – I loved this! My interest in the book was due to the book description as it sounded super crazy, and the book is just that. I don’t even want to say much about the story as I don’t want to spoil anymore as you can already read in the description!

What I loved the most about
Carrie Laben
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reminiscent of Charlie Stross's The Laundry Files in style but with more of an eye for character nuance, this book cunningly combines other-dimensional horrors with the far more mundane type. Does a particularly able job of neither romanticizing nor stigmatizing mental illness; main character Em is no plaster saint Sick Girl but a real survivor. ...more
Xan Rooyen
Unfortunately, this is DNF for me. I get that the book is going for black humor when it comes to mental illness but it's just not for me. ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
"It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you." That old saying isn't entirely accurate in Stay Crazy, because our heroine Em really is paranoid (specifically, paranoid schizophrenic with depressive tendencies). But as strange things happen at the local superstore, it may that something really is out to get her, too.

Em is a young woman dealing with mental illness in rural Pennsylvania. She's had to drop out of college, returning home to live with her mother and younger sister. When she tak
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
This is the story of Emmaline, a twenty-something woman who’s in the process of being discharged from a mental hospital following a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Em’s doing better. She’s taking her meds every day, and even gets a job at the local discount big-box retailer. Then Em starts hearing a voice that claims it’s a being from another dimension, and it needs Em’s help.

What makes Stay Crazy such an interesting read is the ambiguity about the “hallucinations” that Em experiences. As r
Robyn Bennis
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is like Borderline for schizophrenia, or perhaps Wonderfalls for trans-dimensional alien invasions, and I loved every page of it. It's the sort of simultaneously beautiful, sad, and funny story that very few authors have the chops to write. Take this line about the protagonist's family history: "When she was eight years old, Em's father had gone out for cigarettes and ice cream and never returned." There's just something so heartbreaking—but also clever and hilarious—in adding those th ...more
Christopher Teague
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Emmeline - or 'Em' as she prefers to be known - is a troubled young woman: having suffered a breakdown at College, she lives at home with her mother and bible-thumping sister, working nights at the local supermarket. The job she likes, but her colleagues....

It is while during a standard shift, she is contacted by an Inter-dimensional being - Escodex - who tells her that there is another being slowly sucking the energy out of her colleagues to break into his dimension and destroy it.

Em though is
Ry Herman
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
I think this book intended to explore the concept of a paranoid schizophrenic who is contacted by a genuine extradimensional entity. How can someone who can't trust her own senses distinguish between what is real and what isn't? How can you believe in something that seems exactly like one of your own delusions? In the end, could it all have been a hallucination after all?

It's an interesting concept, but it's not handled perfectly here. The book is at its best when the main character goes off her
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Em starts working at a big box store after leaving a mental hospital in an effort to have something resembling a normal life. But then she starts hearing voice in a box of frozen chicken nuggets.

Em is a complicated character. She sometimes voices her distaste for her small town and the co-workers at the local big box store. But at other times she finds the beauty in them. Because she has schizophrenia, she struggles throughout the story wondering whether the voice she hears is real or imaginary,
Jan 13, 2022 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
DNF p. ~75. No patience for using Judaism as background noise, esp when author doesn't seem to have any respect for how atheist Jews would react to the world. (Reminder that Judaism is not just Xtianity 1.0 or lite.)

If that's not an issue for you, I also quit at the staccato time hops, the unreliable and unlikable narrator (which would be fine, but she's also just flat and uninteresting as a character), and the boyfriend of convenience. Oh, and the weirdness of being forced to go to Oberlin then
Phillip M
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Life can be get very difficult for Em, Erica L. Satifka’s “Stay Crazy” protagonist, but I couldn’t help rooting for her. I was not sure how much of Em’s situation is real and how much is imagined and right up through the climax I found myself still wondering. In spite of this, though, I was pulling for Em to succeed. To her credit, Satifka has a very clear and easy writing style that quickly gets to the point. This direct approach gives Em a very infectious personality, especially when contraste ...more
Josh English
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Stay Crazy is a good alien invasion story relying on alternate realities and hierarchical planes of existence for both the threat and the solution to the threat. Em is one of the few that can save the world, and being young and unsure of herself, must grow up fast to fulfill the task given her. That her task is to save the world (and the next) is just another bit of pressure on her life.

Either that, or the fact that she is a schizophrenic depressive suffering from illusions and risks being a da
Anne S
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The story was stark American realism. The decline of small towns because of power of large corporations and globalization was the time period. The reader followed Em through the multiple burdens of schizophrenia, the disease itself, her family's juggling, workplace challenges, medical trial and error, survival. I liked the characters. The telling was engaging and empathetic. I enjoyed the ambiguity of the voice from the higher dimension -- good or bad, was anything he said true, did he exist any ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yay! I can finish a book during the quarantine!

One of the most gutsy unreliable narrator projects. A schizophrenic actually receives signals from another dimension, and the fate of the world relies on her! How will she tell the real from the super-real?

I loved the setting, and the incidental characters and the sarcasm. It really captured that feeling of winter never f'n ending that is as true of my Midwest upbringing as it is in the Appalachia of the story.

Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
My favorite part of this book was the voice of the main character. I liked her prickly, damaged, loving heart and her biting commentary. The weird elements were integrated--they matched the story and didn't feel forced. I have a soft spot for narratives that satirize and skewer corporate nonsense and this one does a fine job of it.

Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked this book quite a bit; I always seem to enjoy stories told by an unreliable narrator, and this was no exception! There are a couple scenes when the character suffers from psychotic hallucinations that made me super uneasy while reading them. Enjoyed the main character's sarcasm and overall aloofness to their situation. ...more
Terry Madden
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Erica Satifka, a British Fantasy Award nominee, has produced a laugh-out-loud romp through the life of a schizophrenic who is battling unseen evil from her Walmart-like workplace. This is entertainment at its best with a touch of social commentary that fills out its five stars. I highly recommend it.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
a fun, breezy read that balances its dark turns with the comic absurdity of life in that strange nexus where extra-dimensional forces and rollback prices mix. Satifka won't weigh you down with words, but she will keep you guessing at what was real long after the last page. ...more
Charlie Eskew
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was wonderful, it did a great job of keeping you guessing as to what was really afoot and engaged me entirely. The protagonist has a hilarious but also frustrated voice; frustrated with the world around her, with the mundane and misonceptions of her mental illness.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Not too deep but very entertaining.
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Erica L. Satifka is the author of over forty published short stories, which have appeared in such places as Clarkesworld Magazine, Shimmer, Interzone, and The Dark. Her debut novel Stay Crazy (Apex Publications). won the 2017 British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer, and her rural cyberpunk novella Busted Synapses was released in 2020 by Broken Eye Books. Originally from Pittsburgh, she now lives i ...more

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