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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Book Review: The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

Fanboy has never had it good, but lately his sophomore year is turning out to be its own special hell. The bullies have made him their favourite target., his best (and only) friend seems headed for the dark side (sports and popularity), and his pregnant mother and the step-fascist are eagerly awaiting the birth of the alien life form known as Fanboy's new little brother or sister. Fanboy, though, has a secret: a graphic novel he's been working on without telling anyone, a graphic novel that he is convinced will lead to publication, fame, and--most important of all--a way out of the crappy little town he lives in and away from all the people who make it hell for him. When fanboy meets Kyra, a.k.a. Goth Girl, he finds an outrageous, cynical girl who shares his love of comics as well as his hatred for jocks and bullies. Fanboy can't resist someone who actually seems to understand him, and soon he finds himself willing to heed her advice--to ignore or crush anyone who stand in his way. But Kyra has secrets, too. And they could lead Fanboy to his dreams...or down a path into his own darkness.

As a victum of teasing all the time for my reading of so many books, I could relate very well to Fan Boy. I really loved seeing this happen through another victum's eyes, and I felt, I dont know, comforted maybe? Yeah, he was fictional, but it was great to see someone elses--another "fictional" victim's--views.

We see it all through Fanboy's eyes; the trauma of high school, teenage boy fantasies (very interesting ones, if I do say so myself), the disfunctional family, etc. But the really big part of this book is his biggest dream and secret: the graphic novel that he has been putting most, if not all, of his time into and the upcoming comic book convention in which his idol, Brian Michael Bendis, will going to: the chance to make his lucky break, to get his graphic novel reviewed, to be acknowledged, discovered, validated.

There’s no shortage of tension in this story. But it’s also full of laughs and deep thoughts and great geekiness. Self-realizations and epiphenies. And while it’s a story about a comic book geek, it’s a story that any book-lover should enjoy. Personally, I’ve never really gotten into comics or graphic novels–it’s not a style I can manage to read. Ever. But this book was great and I had an absolute blast reading it.

From the first word to the last, I bonded with Fanboy and Goth Girl. At times I cheered for them, and at others I nearly cried for them. As they learned more about themselves, I was proud of them. I was surprised by the book as well. Surprised that it served as an inspiration for following your dreams. So often, we see modern teens portrayed as either immature or entitled. Neither Fanboy nor Goth Girl came across as this - they were merely finding their way through a somewhat confusing teenage period, much like we've all been through--or like some of us are going through right now.

Ultimately, a memorable novel.

Grade: A


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