Fan Boy and Goth Girl - by Barry Lyga
"wonderful tale to last the ages"
I usually avoid teen novels like the plague, but Barry Lyga’s The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl proved to be a worthwhile exception, on par with Speak and Perks of Being a Wallflower. While reading this novel, one that defies genre and expectations, I was blown away by the main character, a boy whose name is mentioned maybe once (I think it’s Donnie) but who is constantly referred to as Fanboy. Goth Girl, the other title character, is, unsurprisingly, a Goth named Kyra that Fanboy befriends. Throughout the book, Kyra helps Fanboy mature and develop as a character, acting almost as a mentor.
The book begins with a basic summary of Fanboy’s life. He’s bullied and ostracized as a nerd with only one good friend, and is constantly facee with the possibility of being ousted from his family as his mother and his stepfather (whom he affectionately refers to as the “step-fascist”) prepare for a new baby girl. But there is one solace Fanboy finds in the hellhole he calls life—a graphic novel he’s working on that will change the world. He’ll have revenge on all those who bullied, mocked, and hated for no reason, and, hopefully, make them regret what they have done. Fanboy meets Kyra in the midst of being bullied during gym. When she calls him a “noble Indian warrior,” their tumultuous relationship begins.
Fanboy is incredibly relatable to me. Like him, I was bullied constantly in middle school; like him, I write and hope to be published one day; and, like him, I hope not only to be published, but also to make my lasting mark. He represents a side that almost all teenagers can relate to - a nerdy, repressed side that, if exposed, could spell ruin for all.
Kyra is a crazy character, ridiculous in her own believable way. She’s been through so much; it’s impossible to describe without spoiling. She falls in love with Fanboy’s graphic novel, and encourages him to do better and go farther. That’s one of the greatest things a writer can have—positive encouragement and criticism. But, just as Kyra helps Fanboy, Fanboy saves Kyra when she needs him most.
Lyga presents an interesting side to the comic book genre, bringing into play actual comics and authors. His style is interesting, very conversational and easy to read. It is obvious he has experienced what he writes about, and he even states that he is a “recovering comic book geek” in his brief biography. Lyga has created a wonderful tale to last the ages, a work that will prove to be a genre-defying classic in modern teen literature.