Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
A Novel by Barry Lyga

rating: 7 out of 10 "books"

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl could be classified as yet another “teen angst” drama revolving around those tough teen years. However, AAFGG takes this young adult formula and turns it into something refreshingly different. Sure, there’s plenty of boy-girl drama in there, but what makes this novel special is the characters and the situations in which they are involved.

Donnie aka Fanboy, is your typical High School geek. Obsessed with comics and getting the heck out of town after High School, he spends his weekends and social time working on his secret comic book project. His best friend, uber jock Lacrosse player and secret comic book enthusiast, Cal, only speaks to him when the coast is clear of other popular jocks. Donnie pines for Dina, the popular “senior goddess,” who doesn’t give him the time of day let alone acknowledge him. His mother doesn’t understand him, and his “step-fascist-father,” can hardly relate to Fanboy’s ultra dorkiness. But as Fanboy constantly tells himself, “in two more years I can go to college. Go to college far away, where no one knows me, where I can start over. And in college, everyone is smart, so it’ll be ok to be myself and I won’t be a freak anymore.”

But a series of events crushes Fanboy’s hope for the future and his belief that once he leaves town to attend college things will be different. The only thing keeping him sane in his life filled with bully beatings and constant misery is his unlikely friendship with Goth Girl Kyra. Chain-smoking, pint-sized, sharp mouthed Kyra doesn’t take anyone’s crap. When she sees Fanboy being beaten up in gym class, she befriends him and an unusual acquaintanceship turns into friendship if not more. Fanboy reveals his secret comic book plans with Kyra, who immediately takes interest in helping Fanboy perfect his graphic novel. But as it is with any young adult novel, things between the two friends are bound for a nasty turn. The story cliffhangs after events involving a party, Dina the “senior-goddess,” an appearance of Brian Michael Bendis, and a missing bullet.

I really enjoyed this novel and was excited when I discovered Lyga had decided to and wrote a sequel to The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. There were many mentions of comic and graphic novel writers including: Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and as mentioned previously Brian Michael Bendis. Lyga definitely did his homework researching and brining his own comic book experiences into this novel. Not only that, but his realistic characterization of his characters was suburb. It is really a treat to read young adult literature that successfully captivates the essence and turmoil of being a teen.

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