Friday, October 20, 2006

Unlikely hero

Lyga, Barry. 2006. The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl.

Released October 2, 2006, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga is an enjoyable read focusing on one boy's adventures and misadventures in life and love his sophomore year in high school.

There are three things in this world that I want more than anything. I'll tell you the first two, but I'll never tell you the third.

Almost from the very beginning I knew Fanboy would be a character I could really get behind and support. In some ways he's your typical misunderstood geek: a fan of comic books, excelling in all things academic, and failing at everything requiring coordination and athletic talent. But the reader soon learns that there is more to this hero. He is creative, talented, sarcastic, insecure, sleep-deprived, driven (focused and determined), and definitely has a dark side he nurtures. Angry at the world, he internalizes his emotions and uses his imagination to seek revenge. Creating "The List" in which he keeps track of everyone who has ever done him wrong. He's been bullied at school practically his entire life. And thanks to his overprotective mother, he finds it more than a little difficult to make friends on a good day.

But what could turn out to be a morbid tale of a loner who goes crazy and unleashes that craziness on his classmates, instead is turned into the bittersweet journey of a young boy's first experience in love. Enter Goth Girl. Goth Girl, whose name is Kyra, is angry at the world too. She sees the injustice that Fanboy endures during gym class, and sees him as noble as an Indian warrior. Goth Girl seems to see it all--the great talent, the great mind, the great soul--hidden beneath the geeky exterior. But Goth Girl is just as flawed and complex as Fanboy. Hiding her own secrets and keeping her own mysterious cover, she seems to uncover Fanboy's secrets without revealing too many of her own.

Life isn't perfect. It isn't a sitcom. There are no happy endings in which all of life's lessons are revealed and all is forgiven and well with the world. And if you expect this novel to be any different, you'll be disappointed. Fanboy's greatest wishes go unfulfilled. But what Fanboy does see is the realization that life sometimes gives you what you NEED and not what you want.

There are two passages that stand out to me in which I and Fanboy really connect:

Stories filled and swelled my mind as I tried to sleep. Characters introduced themselves, told me their histories, then went off in search of tales to inhabit, and I always found a good one. Then I would get caught up in perfecting the narrative, developing the story flow, dictating dialogue in my head, and I would be up, and up, and up forever, the minutes running fast when I was writing in my mind, crawling when I closed my eyes. (43)

I look down at my notes for a moment to make sure I've connected two molecules correctly, and then Iose my eyesight. It's not like a movie, where everything goes black. There's a sudden patch of fuzziness that settles over my notebook, blotting all but the edges. It's like TV static when the cable goes out, only threaded with gold and red, shaped like some amorphous amoeba. At first I think there's something on my desk, and I swipe my hand at it, but my hand disappears as it passes into the patch. I tilt my head to one side. The patch moves, following my line of sight. I can barely make out things on the periphery of my vision. It's like the reverse of tunnel vision. A migraine. A migraine's coming. My stomach tightens. This is how it happens. . . God, the pain. The pain comes later. First the loss of vision. It's like a herald, like a vanguard. an advance scout. I lose my vision and my guts churn. Soon the patch of blindness will start to shrink, and even though I shouldn't I'll feel relief that I'm getting my sight back. But once the patch is gone--in the very instant that I can see again--that's when the pain will hit. (203)

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