LENGTH: 320 pages
SOURCE: library book
SUMMARY: 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 favorite 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 all the people that 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 stands in his way.
REVIEW: Strong, individual characters propel a familiar coming-of-age story. Fanboy is cynically sarcastic and his voice is familiar to those of us who have endured the persecution of bullies and felt that there was NO WAY our parents could understand the crap we had to put up with every day. Fanboy’s passivity is counteracted by Kyra’s ferocity. His defense mechanism is his imaginary List while Kyra goes straight for her attacker’s jugular with vitriolic condescension. Fanboy is taken aback by Kyra’s aggression but readers can sense his awe and envy at her ability to seemingly not care – about anything. With her encouragement, Fanboy begins to take action for himself instead of letting others take action around and against him.
While the characters are familiar and juxtaposed quite nicely, I felt that the pacing could have used a little better balance. The introduction of the characters and conflict seemed to take almost half the book. By the time they got to the mini-ComiCon, I had almost given up reading. But the last third of the book makes up for whatever lag in action there might be in the beginning. The step-facist redeems himself, offering an olive branch to Fanboy and taking him to the comic book show. Fanboy responds in kind and one begins to think that their family might just make it through the hell of adolescence.
I enjoyed Lyga’s I Hunt Killers and initially felt that Fan Boy and Goth Girl was quite a bit different. However, while the topics are markedly different, stylistically they are quite similar. There is a honesty to the writing in Fanboy’s and Kyra’s assessments of their lots in life. Lyga does not flinch from telling the hard truths about what it’s like to grow up and find yourself labeled as OTHER. Fanboy and Goth Girl battle themselves as much as they do those who malign them and it is that stark reality that makes the tale grisly and gripping at the same time. And what makes readers long for the next chapter in their adventures.