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review 2018-03-17 04:15
The Flash: Hocus Pocus
The Flash: Hocus Pocus - Barry Lyga

Set post season 2, in a Central City in which Flashpoint never happened. This was very nicely done. It felt like an episode of the show, and the author had a good handle on the characters' voices. (Plus H.R. was in it!)

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review 2017-05-09 13:54
Bang - Barry Lyga

He was four when it happened. Sebastian doesn’t remember what happened that day and no one wants to talk about it to help him remember. He only knows that it was an accident, an accident that no one will forget and one that will haunt him forever. Sebastian has made plans. Occasionally, late at night, Sebastian rides his bike to an old abandon mobile home where he knows when the time is right, he will finally be able to put his mind at rest. For Sebastian feels guilty for killing his baby sister and in the end, he will again pull the trigger and this time, he will take his own life.


As I read knowing that Sebastian knew he was going to take his own life sometime in the future, there was this anticipation, this dread and yet this hope that something would come along for him. For Sebastian knew it needed to be done, he needed to take his life for the guilt was eating away at him. He thought everything would be okay when he was gone yet he claimed he didn’t remember what happened that day so I wanted to believe that somehow if he learned the truth, the guilt would vanish. I wanted to race through to the end of this novel to see, to hear, to witness how it turned out but shamefully I didn’t really want to know and I didn’t really want to be a witness to it. The more I read, I kept asking myself, can I stop reading this novel and not know the ending? Will I be okay not knowing if he succeeded in his ultimate goal?


Sebastian had one good friend Evan and Evan’s parents did not care for Sebastian. I was hoping that Evan might be his lifeline but the way the story was headed, this possibility was not looking good. With summer approaching, Sebastian’s mother informed him that his lazy days of summer were over and this summer marked the beginning of something new. He needed to be productive. With Sebastian’s state of mind, this set him off and they got into a heated argument. Always in the back of mind, I was wondering if today was “the day” that Sebastian would leave us but luckily Aneesa is moving in the neighborhood and she intrigued him. Aneesa gives Sebastian hope, she was innocent and they hit it off instantly. I couldn’t believe the direction this novel was headed in: the drama, the excitement and the ruckus for it was captivating but I kept asking myself is this really happening? Barry Lyga, you did it again, this novel was amazing. I love the way Barry plays with words, he commands them. There is power in words and he brilliantly uses words to stress a point whether that be five words on a page or the words the characters uses. His words, stop you in your tracks. I highly recommend this novel.

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review 2017-04-14 13:49
Bang by Barry Lyga
Bang - Barry Lyga

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

What a powerful book this turned out to be! I am not someone who cries over books. I have done it before but it may happen only one time every couple of years. I almost couldn't figure out why the page was suddenly blurry but then I realized that my eyes were filled with tears which were making it hard to continue reading. This book melted my little heart of ice just a bit because it completely got to me. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this gem of a book.

This book isn't afraid to deal with tough issues. I am really surprised by how many important issues are tackled in this story and they are all done well. Gun safety, teen suicide, and prejudice all play a major role in this story. I have to admit that this book made me stop and think about how I would deal with these issues not only if I were in the character's place but also how I would react if as the adult in a teenager's life.

Sebastian has grown up shouldering an enormous amount of guilt. More guilt than any one person should have to deal with much less grow up with. Ten years ago when he was only four years old he shot and killed his baby sister. Imagine what he goes through every single day knowing what he did. People treat him differently because they know he is the kid that killed his sister. He sometimes just wants it all to stop.

I loved the characters in this book. They were so real to me as I read this story. Sebastian was pretty amazing. His range of emotions were wonderfully illustrated during the course of the story. His mother seemed to be having a difficult time dealing with day to day life much like Sebastian. They were able to function but neither seemed to be really able to deal with the past. Aneesha was a positive addition to Sebastian's life and her outlook on life was refreshing.

I would highly recommend this book to others. It is short but it packs a punch. The writing was absolutely excellent with wonderful pacing. I look forward to reading more from this talented author soon.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via TheNovl.com.

Initial Thoughts
What a powerful little book! I almost never cry while reading but this book brought tears to my eyes. Very moving.

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review 2016-10-30 21:42
Goth Girl Has a Heart & Fanboy Has a Name!
Goth Girl Rising - Barry Lyga



I started this book right after finishing the first, so I guess Barry Lyga did something right!  This one starts six months after the end of the previous installment.  Kyra "Goth Girl" Sellers is back after her stay in a psych ward (where her father had sent her, afraid she was going to make her second suicide attempt).  One of the first things Kyra wants to do is to check on Fanboy to make sure he's okay, but she is soon angry to discover he's somehow too okay.  Suddenly, he's popular!  He's been serializing his graphic novel Schemata in the school's literary magazine, and his classmates are loving it.  This makes Kyra feel that he forgot all about her--out of sight, out of mind--and she becomes focused on "revenge."


For much of the narrative, I found myself hating Kyra and, in my head, yelling at her just to have a damn conversation with Fanboy.  Instead of making a chain of assumptions.  But she has to go through a certain journey before she can get there, and I find myself pulling for her to get through all that, because I can see her potential under the rage and lousy attitude.


This book has the sort of short chapters that propel a reader forward.  I'd find myself thinking, "Just one more chapter," because the chapter were often around 2.5 chapters.  I stayed up way too late a couple of nights reading this.  (And as indicated in the title, Fanboy's name finally gets revealed.)  I was pleased, for the most part, with the way this book resolved itself; however I kind of wish there were just a few more chapters.


As a side note, I will just point out that Kyra does not quite understand lucid dreams, and I'm not sure if the author intended this, or whether he himself shares that misunderstanding.  There is one chapter where Kyra describes a lucid dream, and she notes that in a lucid dream--which is one where the dreamer is aware of dreaming--it is possible to take control of the dream or just let it unfold.  But then there are things that happen in the dream that Kyra doesn't expect or necessarily want, and she questions whether she actually does want them--because it's a lucid dream, so she must be controlling what happens.  Only that's not true.  Having a lucid dream and taking control in the dream are two separate things.  The moment you know you're dreaming, you are lucid.  But taking control takes certain decisions within your dream world, and it's actually something that may take practice.  In case anyone is interested, there are websites devoted to explaining how to develop these skills.  (Huge digression over.)


I didn't touch on this with the first book, but I'm not sure why Fanboy is apparently the last person in the world who still uses dial-up and doesn't have a cell phone.

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review 2016-10-28 02:50
Fanboy & Goth Girl
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl - Barry Lyga,Scott Brick

It took me some time to warm up to this book, but I got there.  This was almost a four-star read for me, except I found the end too open.  Yes, I was aware that there is a sequel (which I've started to read), but it's still possible to have some internal closure while still leaving more story to tell.  Okay, I guess in some ways there were, but the end was quite cliffhangery.


"Fanboy" is the name our narrator gets from the "Goth Girl," Kyra.  He's 15 years old, and convinced he's got one of the worst lives ever because he's nerdy, the jocks tend to enjoy tormenting him, and his parents are divorced.  But he's secretly working on a graphic novel* called Schemata, and he's sure that once he shows his sample pages to Brian Michael Bendis** at a nearby comic convention, he'll be on his way to a brilliant future taking the comics world by storm.


Without going into spoilers, I will just say that our Fanboy is more than a little naive about how one breaks into the world of graphic-novel success.  Oddly, we never learn his name.  Early on, I found myself annoyed by his unrelenting negativity, and lovely things like referring to his stepfather as "the stepfascist" and the obvious disgust he felt about the fact that his mother is pregnant.  He carries a bullet that he lifted from his "stepfascist," and I swear it's like this book's equivalent of the stupid unlit cigarette Gus from The Fault in Our Stars insists on having.  But there is growth and change!  Yay.


*Memo to Fanboy:  a graphic novel is a comic book, but not all comic books are graphic novels.  (He will "correct" anyone who refers to his graphic novel as a comic book.)


**I didn't realize until after I was done and looking at the author's webpage that Bendis is a real-life comics guy.  D'oh.


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