I hate the media and pop culture. Absolutely hate it. Especially how they portray high school. My high school experience was nothing like their descriptions at all. Sure there were the jocks and the nerds and all that but everyone was more or less nice to each other. Heck, they often overlapped into each other. Sure there was bullying because that happens everywhere but the entire school didn’t gang up on one kid because he liked comic books and was an honor student. Honestly, nobody gave a crap. Which brings me to today’s review, after my long absence. I remember walking through Barnes & Noble and seeing The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga and thinking “this seems relevant to me,” but I didn’t pick it up because I was in middle school at the time and had none of the moneys. The reason I found it intriguing at the time was because from the description it was about a boy who was trying to come to terms with being part of the sub-culture known as nerd. Now I have some weird social anxieties and I too was trying to deal with this very same issue (yes I love sci-fi, anime and manga, comic books, video games and the sciences. Deal with it). Anyway, I was perusing my local library when I came across this book in the young adult section. I figured it was worth a shot. Ho boy was I in for a big disappointment.
So the main character is a 15 year old sophomore in high school honor student with a severe attitude problem. Now, I am of the belief that you should have a main character that you either like or can relate to. Otherwise, you’re reader is not going to care about what happens to him or her in the story and you’ve rendered your book unreadable. This particular guy, who I cannot for the life of me remember his name. If it was given at all in the book, which there’s a possibility it wasn’t, then I can remember it. That’s how annoying and boring this character was. If he was a real guy I met in my high school I probably would have thought him a jerk and then ignored him, but no apparently everyone in his school wants to make his life a living hell because he openly admits to being a comic book enthusiast. NOBODY CARES IN REAL LIFE! Not to mention he would have found plenty of other people just like him with the same interests and would have hung out with that crowd. Or, maybe he wouldn’t have because the guy is a complete jerk. He is rude to his mom, his best friend, his new friend, his stepdad, his idol, everyone. He expects everyone to cater to his desires and whims and when they have their own lives to attend to, he gets mad and throws a tantrum. He has a fight his best friend because he can’t go to a big comic book convention because his lacrosse game is the same day. Just because the main character hates sports, he thinks everyone else should to. Everyone is allowed to have their own interests! Your hypocrisy speaks volumes to your character.
Don’t tell me that “it’s the whole point of the novel to see the character learn” or whatever, because he doesn’t learn anything! It’s sort of implied that maybe he has a change of heart or something but there is no lesson learned. He just starts being nice to his mom all of a sudden. Seriously, this guy really frustrated me.
I will admit the writing was decent. After doing a bit of research on the author, I can see that he wrote for the comic book industry for a while, though I haven’t read any of his comic books, before writing novels full time. This is his first novel, so I suppose I should cut him some slack. I’m sorry though, his main character just really bugs me.
Anyway, final thoughts. I know I harped a lot on the main character and the fact that it isn’t very true to real life and I didn’t really look to much at the story. As story’s go, there have been better and worse. Mostly it was just bland. It sure wasn’t the astonishing adventure I was promised from the title. If the main character hadn’t riled me up so much I probably would have just cast it off as a boring book. I swear, a book hasn’t made me this angry since I read I am the Cheese in eighth grade.
And can you believe there’s a sequel? People actually enjoyed this book enough for there to be a sequel. This is exactly why I hate pop culture.