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The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl Hardcover – October 2, 2006
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–On good days, Fanboy is invisible to the students at his high school. On bad ones, he's a target for bullying and violence. When a classmate is cruel to him, Fanboy adds him to The List and moves on. His only real friend, Cal, is a jock who can't be seen with him in public. Their love of comics, though, keeps them close friends outside of school. Reading comics and writing his own graphic novel, Schemata, are the only things that keep him sane. He dreams of showing his work to a famous author at a comic-book convention and being discovered as the next great graphic novelist. When Goth Girl Kyra IMs him with photos of him being beaten up, he's skeptical. Why does she care what happens to him? He learns, though, that she's as much an outsider as he is. The two form a tentative friendship based on hatred of their classmates, particularly jocks, and her interest in Schemata. Fanboy is a rule follower, but Kyra is a rebel with a foul mouth. She teaches him to stand up for himself, and gives him the confidence to do it. Lyga looks at how teens are pushed to their limits by society. Though he toys with such concepts as teen suicide and Columbine-like violence, the novel never turns tragic. His love of comics carries over into all three teen characters, breathing animation into a potentially sad but often funny story. This is a great bridge book for teens who already like graphic novels.–Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"I'm a computer geek, a comic book geek, a study geek. Even in the Fast-Track classes, I'm apart." Fifteen-year-old Fanboy is miserable at school, where he is bullied, and at home, with his pregnant mother and her husband, the "step-fascist." His only relief is the late hours spent creating his own comic book. Then he receives an instant message from Kyra, an enigmatic Goth who seems to be the only witness to the violence he endures, and the two form a cagey, charged friendship. Unlike Daniel Ehrenhaft's Drawing a Blank (2006), in which a young comics fan embarks on a wild, fantastical adventure, Lyga's debut novel is a darkly comic, realistic, contemporary story of bullying and a teen's private escape in artistic pursuits. Fanboy entertains plenty of violent thoughts. He carries a bullet, keeps a tally of his abusers ("The List"), and lashes out with sometimes-cruel remarks, which feel sharply authentic. The insider comics details will slow some readers, and the open-ended questions about Kyra's personal story will frustrate others. Yet Fanboy's whip-smart, often hilariously sarcastic voice skillfully captures a teenager's growing self-awareness, and adds a fresh, urgent perspective to age-old questions about how young people cope with bullying and their own feelings of helplessness, rage, and being misunderstood as they try to discover themselves. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Brookdale High or South Brook High is an interesting school. Not the worst school and not the best. There are cliques, and jocks, and geeks - all the usual groups you would find in and around a high school. And like most high schools, some of them get it and some do not. For Kyra Sellers and Fanboy (aka Donnie) it is just putting in time. Both want to be somewhere else. Both need things to change. Kyra witnesses Fanboy being punched repeatedly in gym class and wonders why he allows it to happen. Soon they have a strange friendship developing. They both have a love of Graphic Novels but prefer different styles. Fanboy is working on one and Goth Girl wants to help make it better. But as we all know, life in high school or life in general is usually not easy and things often go wrong or at least not the way we expect, and in this story that is definitely the case.
There are a number of strengths that make this novel so good. First, there are the characters. Readers cannot help but become fans of Kyra and Fanboy; they are so well written and capture much of the spirit of being an outsider in high school you can't help but root for them. Second is the story itself. It has a sinister darkness to it, but at the same time provides some hope. It is not a fast-paced novel but it will definitely keep your attention and interest turning the pages. Third is the essence of both high school and life that Lyga has managed to capture. This was an amazing novel to read and after reading it I now plan to go back and reread the whole series!
Donnie, aka "Fanboy" is 15 and trying to survive the tough social life at South Brook High in Maryland. He has challenges on the home front as well with his stepfather Tony, whom he calls "Step-fascist" and a baby sister on the way (half-sister, as he reminds them). Fanboy keeps a List of people he'd like to see taken out. These are the "Jock Jerks" and everybody else who has ever bullied and hounded him. A comic/graphic novel and computer expert, Fanboy's big dream is to have his graphic novel, brilliantly titled "Schemata" join the pantheon of famous illustrated characters and be reviewed by his idol, Brian Michael Bendis (Bendis).
Fanboy has one good friend, a lacrosse player named Cal. Cal is smart, funny and shares Fanboy's love for comics. Fanboy feels let down when Cal cannot attend a comic convention with him as he has a lacrosse game ("the playoffs," as Cal tried to explain to Fanboy were just as important to him and because he made a commitment to the team, he feels he has to honor that).
Fanboy has a very unusual security blanket. He has a lone bullet, filched from his stepfather's supply that he carries in his pocket. When he is at home, he stores it in his computer. For him, just knowing that he has it has a palliative effect.
Gym is Fanboy's personal hell. A Neanderthal-like boy named Mitchell Frampton uses Fanboy as his own personal punching bag and target during dodgeball. Their coach and gym teacher stand aside and do nothing to protect Fanboy from his nemesis' daily torture. A girl, dressed all in black with a spiky haircut photographs the Neanderthal making pulverized steak out of Fanboy and from there, a friendship of sorts blossoms.
The girl, Kyra Sellers (whom readers will get to know even better in "Goth Girl Rising") is a very interesting and complex character. She insists that Fanboy stand up for himself; she worms her way into his confidence and even critiques his magnum opus, Schemata. It is Kyra who bestows the nickname of Fanboy on Donnie.
Kyra encourages Fanboy to explore beyond the boundaries of his creative genius; she draws Fanboy into her chaotic life of danger and intrigue.
Indeed, Kyra's influence is so prevalent that Fanboy takes a personal interest in her welfare. He even helps save her from being arrested after she acted a fool at the comic/graphic novel convention by making a spectacle of herself. Her public scene was done on Fanboy's behalf, her misguided effort to defend him from what she saw as an outright rejection by Bendis.
An excellent, cutting edge book. Kyra makes one think of the John Lennon with the Beatles' classic, "I'll Get You in the End" as she will bulldoze her way over anything and anybody who crosses her.
Barry Lyga is a genius. His novels and cast of characters are cutting edge, diamond-sharp and precise. It is almost as if he has drafting skills in the precision and life he gives his characters and stories. He, like Chris Crutcher deals head on with some very serious topics in an intelligent and plausible way. Be sure to read his other works. The man is brilliant!