Book Review: Bleed Through by Adriana Arrington

Liam thinks his schizophrenia is mostly under control and that he's close to finally being independent, but then he starts seeing strange paranormal visions, like one of a murder that may or may not have really happened. Convinced his meds are causing the new visions, he stops taking them, but as his symptoms get worse and he gets more wrapped up in the murder, Liam struggles to figure out what's real in order to protect both his sanity and his family.

Title: Bleed Through
Pages: 329
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*

I’m having a hard time figuring out how to review this book, mostly because the main focus of the book was Liam’s schizophrenia—not the paranormal and definitely not the romance that’s hinted at in the blurb—and how it affected him and his family, and I have zero experience with that which means I am in no place to say whether it was portrayed accurately. So I’m basing my rating/review on the assumption that this was a mostly accurate portrayal, and I’ll try my best to explain it.

One thing I can say is that the author included a lot of aspects of the schizophrenia. There wasn’t just a laundry list of symptoms. Sometimes there wasn’t any explanation at all, for that matter—I thought one of Liam’s hallucinations was a real person in the beginning. But that’s not an insult to the book, it’s a compliment, because the author managed to put me in Liam’s shoes and show me what life was like for him. He saw and heard things as though they were real, so I did too. He had delusions and believed things, so he didn’t stop to think, “Schizophrenia causes delusions, and one of mine is that…” No, he just had his thoughts about these things because he believed them to be real. And the author didn’t just include symptoms but also things like how mental illness affected Liam emotionally, how it affected his life, how other people treated him because of it, the side effects he had to deal with because of his medication but also how those side effects were worth it because of how important his medication was, his visits to his therapist and how much she helped him, etc.

This book was also so much more emotionally intense than I was expecting. For one thing, Liam’s hallucinations were scary. As another character put it, Liam himself was generally not violent, just unpredictable, but in his own mind, he sometimes saw hallucinations that told him to hurt people or that threatened to hurt people themselves if Liam didn’t listen to them. They also physically hurt him sometimes; he didn’t obtain actual injuries, but he felt the pain, or he injured himself just trying to get away from them. Other times his delusions made him believe scary things, like that people were demons. So it wasn’t that I was scared of him, it was that I’d be scared if I were him. But the real intensity of the book came from the way Liam’s life and the lives of his family were affected, especially when he stopped taking his meds. The family aspect definitely came across as realistic, and the book got pretty heavy and even a little bit heartbreaking. I can’t say I agree with all his mother’s decisions, but Isaac was trying, even if he wasn’t perfect. And Liam himself didn’t want things to be the way they were, didn’t want to be a danger to anyone.

There was also a paranormal aspect though. For most of the book, it was clear that certain things in the book were schizophrenia and that other certain things were paranormal, but there were some things that blurred. That was the point though (it’s in the blurb even), and the author did a great job of that. Liam was an unreliable narrator, so even I wasn’t always sure what was real, what was retro/precognition, and what was hallucination. But then—this is what bothered me—even the definite schizophrenia things started getting iffy, like how the cat could sense the hallucinations and how the hallucinations could sometimes touch things in real life. I didn’t see any reason why those particular paranormal bits were added and would’ve preferred the actual schizophrenia remain fully real in order to make it a more accurate portrayal.

I also want to mention that this is one of those rare cases in which the blurb is spot-on. What it promises is exactly what the book delivers, albeit with less romance than it seems to suggest.

So, to summarize, I didn’t like that some of the schizophrenia seemed to be paranormal, but the emotional aspects, the characters, and the affect it all had on Liam’s life seemed realistic. And overall, I found this to be a very tense, intense, and gripping book!


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16 thoughts on “Book Review: Bleed Through by Adriana Arrington

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  1. verushka

    Given how good the author has described Liam’s schizophrenia, it sucks that the author gave it a paranormal background. Sighs. But still, there’s much goodness here.

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s how I felt. She seemed to do such a great job with the schizophrenia, so why’d she have to go and mess that up by adding in the paranormal parts?! But even so, I think it still had a lot of good things and the non-paranormal parts and the impact it had on his life seemed well portrayed.

  2. irena_bookdustmagic

    Since this book covers a tough subject, I assume it’s a bit challenging.
    Books with unreliable narrators can be page-turners, that’s for sure.
    I also like how you mentioned that the blurb for this one gives you exactly what you get in the novel.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It is sometimes hard to review books with tough subjects, especially when it’s a subject you really don’t know much about. But the unreliable narrator did make things interesting!

      It seems like so few blurbs actually get it right anymore, so I like to mention when one does 🙂

  3. Greg

    An intriguing premise and a nice cover too. I think it’s interesting that the schizophrenia and paranormal elements were somewhat blurred, after all if you’re having delusions but they’re REAL to you how would you know? That would be terrifying. And while I agree that making part of the schizophrenia paranormal is problematic, I’m also kinda intrigued by the idea, depending on how it’s implemented. Like is there a p/n influence that’s AFFECTING his mind, which could be interesting, or is it handled differently? I’d be curious about that.

    I can also imagine that bad things happened when he ditched his meds.

    Sometimes I like an unreliable narrator, it depends on the book. And thinking a hallucination is real because it was real to the MC- that’s kinda freaky. 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      Idk, the paranormal part was never explained. But his schizophrenia medication did help with his symptoms of delusion and hallucination and paranoia. So the schizophrenia couldn’t have been entirely paranormal. But yeah, the book was scary in the sense that, even when I knew certain things were hallucinations, to him they were real, and that would be terrifying to experience.

      Generally I’m not a big fan of unreliable narrators, but it worked here because it never felt cheap or like I was being manipulated, you know? Lol he didn’t say it was a hallucination, the guy just talked to him and whatever, so I assumed he was a real person.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Actually I usually don’t go for unreliable narrator books either, but this one just sounded good! And I know that lots of people love them, so this would be a good rec for those people 🙂 The cover is so striking!

  4. Drangonfly

    oh when you mention a mental health book review was coming up on your blog I didn’t know it was about schizophrenia! So I stopped reading the review because I’m gonna read the book! I had a very close experience with schizophrenia and I haven’t found a good book yet. Thanks for posting though, I’ll be back to read the review once I have read it.

    1. Kristen Burns

      If you’ve had any experience with schizophrenia, I’d love to know what you think of the book! I don’t know anything about it other than the symptoms I read about on Google when I started reading, so I’d love to know if this seems realistic. And no worries, I also usually avoid reading reviews once I’ve made the decision to read a book. Don’t want to be influenced by other opinions!

  5. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    This book sounds confusing and also like it would be a really frustrated reading. Both because aspects of the schizophrenia have a paranormal aspect to them but also the dude goes off his meds and I can never condone that in a book because whilst it’s a common thing for those struggling with mental illness it frustrates the hell out me when reading. I hate seeing characters make bad decisions for themselves. I mean, can a book both sound interesting but potentially annoy the hell out of you as well? I think that maybe this book for me. I think I’d enjoy it whilst constantly questioning the decisions made throughout the book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I didn’t find it confusing. It was supposed to be that you didn’t know sometimes what was a delusion, what was a supernatural premonition, and what was real. I thought that aspect was actually really well-written. But yeah, the paranormal aspect to the schizophrenia bothered me. And yes, it turned out to be a VERY bad idea for him to go off his meds, but I could empathize and understand why he did it. It was the meds causing some paranormal abilities, and they were kind of wreaking havoc on his life. I think he had asked for a different med, but his doctor didn’t want to switch them because these seemed to be working. But I’m not trying to force you to read the book, just explaining 🙂

  6. Olivia Roach

    I do like unreliable narrators because it keeps the story interesting to me, and you never know what is the truth and what isn’t. It seems like the author choosing to let you really see through the protagonist’s eyes was for the best because it made you doubt what you were reading at times, and of course it must have made the emotional impact just that much greater than it was before.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I actually don’t seek out books with unreliable narrators, but I think they can be good when they’re written well. And in this book the author did do a great job of making the reader see through the protag and feeling his confusion over not knowing what was real and what wasn’t.