Sunday, March 30, 2008


Barry Lyga explodes into the teen literature world with his unique debut novel. THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL is a novel about one young man’s journey through confidence development.

Fanboy, a sophomore in high school, floats through life hoping to remain invisible since he has, more than once, fallen victim to bullies. His life is a lonely life. His parents have been divorced for six years; his mother is remarried and pregnant, visits with his father are becoming less frequent due to his father’s increased social life, and he doesn’t relate to his stepfather at all.

Fanboy has been compiling a list for quite some time. The list includes people that have “pissed him off" for no particular reason. Once you are on the list, you never get off. This includes the jock jerks and girls from the cliques that seem to dismiss him as if he has no business even attending school with them.

One bright spot in Fanboy’s day is visiting with his friend Cal. Cal is a jock jerk, but also has a passion for comic books, and the two often debate, in depth, about different issues in the comic book universe. The problem with being friends with Cal is, since he is a jock jerk, he doesn’t act like much of a friend at school. Fanboy knows to back off when Cal’s teammates approach them at school. Most of their conversations take place on the weekends or at night through instant messages.

Fanboy’s life begins to change when he receives an instant message from an unknown person. Fearing it is another trick to humiliate him, he doesn’t respond. After several messages and an email, he learns that it is a girl from his gym class. Kyra has been witnessing his torment the entire year. She has taken pictures of a bully hitting him in the arm while the teachers do nothing. After this initial contact through instant messaging, they agree to meet and Fanboy’s life will never be the same.

The biggest secret in Fanboy’s life, which he hasn’t even shared with Cal, is the graphic novel he is creating. Schemata takes up all of his free time and he can’t stop himself from sharing it with Kyra. She becomes a huge supporter and inspiration for the graphic novel. Fanboy is planning to attend a comic book convention where Michael Bendis himself is going to be signing autographs. Fanboy intends to show Bendis his work and truly believes it will be the break he needs to get Schemata published. Surprising and disastrous events at the convention lead Fanboy to worry about Kyra’s well-being. While thingsdon’t work out exactly as he plans, Fanboy realizes confidence is the key to his problems. After many uncharacteristic behaviors, he manages to come to terms with some of the issues in his life and makes plans for the future. He even takes someone off “the list.”

THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL will be enjoyed by readers who enjoy teenage problem novels. Comic book fans will enjoy the graphic novel references, especially the cameo appearance by Michael Bendis. While the ending left me slightly unsatisfied, it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of this novel. This will be a great addition to any collection.

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