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Saturday, February 03, 2007 at 9:40 PM

Bookgirl, Fanboy, Gothgirl

So I did the stupid thing that I do about three times a year the other night. I sat down and read a book cover to cover and didn't get to bed until the wee hours of the morning. This particular volume was "The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Gothgirl" by Barry Lyga. It's a novel which the YA (Young Adult) librarians in my library system seem to think is pretty good. **Side Tangent -- There have been studies made, and actual persons age 13-19 spoken to by librarians that have indicated said audience actually prefer to be called simply "teens" and yet for some curious reason, librarians insist on saying they cater to Young Adults. I don't get it. I think the perhaps the real reason is that it would mess up the YALSA acronym.** Because I am a public librarian and have this compulsion to be all things to all people, I have this guilt thing going that our little library doesn't do enough for teens, so I figure the least I can do is read a book geared for teens every now and then.

The book is good enough that I read it for three hours straight. It was well written, and there were not any parts that disappointed me or that I thought were lame. Fanboy is a total geek, has a not-exactly-great home life and ends up making friends with this goth girl, Kyra, who is his complete opposite because she is all about breaking rules. He is also writing and drawing a graphic novel he feels is "important." Kyra agrees it is worth getting published. The story revolves around them trying to get Brian Micheal Bendis to have a look at it. Woven in between is an overview of the horrors of high school social life, as far as the social outcast is concerned, and the horrors of clueless teachers and asshole administrators. I liked the character development of Fanboy the most. His feelings and attitudes for most of the book were totally on the mark for a 15 year old. By the end he experiences a few epiphanies that broaden his perspective, giving him a clearer view of his circumstances.

Personally, there was one section that just made me feel so old. He talks about having to sit in the truck with his step father who he completely despises, (because what teen does not despise the step parent that comes on the scene too late?) and he bemoans the possibility of having to listen to a lot of grunge crap. Not that I was all in to the grunge thing, but I was old enough to have acquaintances that were into it before it got really big. (I am also old enough to remember seeing hair care products that you sprayed into your hair to make it "look dirty.") And I was thinking, "Damn, I am biologically old enough to have a 15 year old of my own." Not a good revelation.

After reading the novel, and the comments by famous people on the back cover, I learned that there is a lot of disrespect for comics. They informed me of this attitude in library school as well. I don't quite understand. Unlike Fanboy, I cannot elucidate on the social relevance of the Joker, though I suppose good points can be made. I simply like reading comics and always have. My mother was a devoted subscriber of the newspaper, so there were always Sunday comics. **Yet Another Side Tangent -- After trying to be a grownup, informed citizen that actually reads the rest of the paper, I have given up and find only the comics of use these days. Hell, I can keep up on current events by reading Doonesbury alone.** When comic books were about 75 cents, I was heavily into Richie Rich. Later on, I moved up to Elvira's House of Mystery, mostly collections of Twilight Zone-type stories. My step father lent me his old copies of Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella from the 70's which I think my mom burned after she actually read one. More recently, I've read Will Eisner's Contract With God Trilogy, which I would recommend. It is a series of stories that covers the history of fictional Dropsie Avenue in NYC. Some of the stories are a little uneven, but that may be perhaps because I plowed through all 544 pages in about a day and a half. On the other hand, there is social relevance a plenty. He brings up a number of issues like race, socioeconomics, the myth of childhood innocence, the failure of some bleeding heart liberal projects, and other themes that will induce thought to those who are so inclined.

By adriennelibrarian at 9:40 PM

Blogger John said...

Not all comics is good literature, but Alan Moore's "From Hell" certainly is - better than most non-graphic novels, I think - as is anything by Dan Clowes or Chris Ware . . .  

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Blogger Shaw Israel Izikson said...

So $@## blogger won't let me comment in IE but will let me in Firefox. Friggin' technology.

I always thought Cerebus was supposed to be all literary and stuff?  

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Blogger John said...

Cerebus is one of my favorite comics ever, but, by the end of it, it is less a novel and more a psychotherapy session!  

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Blogger Shaw Israel Izikson said...

I thought all the best literary works were psychotherapy sessions?  

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