The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl

Common Sense Media says

Comic book geek learns to deal with high school.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

May be a good choice for comic book fans and graphic novel readers. Could be used by inspired parents and teachers to open up discussions on empathy, bullying, and school violence.

Positive messages

There's a message here about the impact of bullying and what it's like to be an outsider. Teens will also see how caring about another person can change you and help you grow.

Positive role models

Both of the main characters, at different times, are outsiders -- and anyone who has felt on the fringe of high school will likely be able to relate. These characters don't act perfectly -- both threaten a school administrator with false sexual accusations, Fanboy has violent fantasies, and Kyra drives dangerously without a license and cuts classes -- but their pain in palpable and real.

Violence

Fanboy is bullied, punched, and kicked in the crotch. He fantasizes about his tormentors being killed. Kyra has attempted suicide in the past, and Fanboy fears she will try again.

Sex

Nothing explicit beyond some kissing, but references to sex, teen sex, oral sex, erections, breasts and cleavage, fantasies, and pornography. Fanboy looks up a girl's dress. Kyra twice flashes her breasts.

Language

Some use of "s--t" and other swearing.

Consumerism

Computer, software, and soft drink brands.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens smoke, drink beer, use pills to stay awake.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book about two comic book-loving misfits may be a good choice for comic book fans and graphic novel readers. It shows the impact of bullying and what it's like to be an outsider, and could be used by inspired parents and teachers to open up discussions on empathy, bullying, and school violence. It does include swearing, sexual references, and teenage misbehavior, including drinking, smoking, bullying, and cheating in school. One main character has attempted suicide, while the other has violent fantasies. Both main characters threaten a school administrator with false sexual accusations at different times. The story continues in Lyga's Goth Girl Rising.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

A smart comic book geek has an unhappy life at home and is bullied at school. But an unexpected friendship with an edgy comic-loving girl brings some unexpected drama -- and perspective -- to his life.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Give first-time novelist (and fanboy himself) Barry Lyga a bonus point for being original. The story gives all the signs of heading for an operatically tragic ending, and then doesn't go there. Any alert reader will be sure early on that they know exactly where this book is headed. There's mad telegraphing here -- the bullying, the loving relationship with a bullet, the stepfather (step-fascist) who keeps guns, the violent fantasies, the isolation, and lack of support. But take the points away again for having an ending that just fizzles out all of a sudden -- apparently he didn't have the courage to follow his own foreshadowing.

Give him another point for enjoyably and wittily explicating comic-geek culture -- he shows real insight into and sardonic compassion for outsider teens. But then take away two for trying to turn the protagonists' really damaging behavior into a heroic stand against blustering adults.

No question that newbie author Lyga has the writing chops and clearheaded understanding of adolescents to be a fine young adult novelist. He can write an over-the-top, cringe-worthy scene of teen humiliation with the best of them. But he will need to learn a few things about plotting -- such as how to follow his own setup, how to write an ending, and how to empower his heroes without resorting to the kind of manipulation that loses them any right to the reader's sympathy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Donnie's violent fantasies. Do you think they are realistic, given the bullying he endures at school? Do you see kids at school who get treated like he does?

  • This book has a sequel, Goth Girl Rising, told from Kyra's point of view. Are you interested enough to follow the story? Why do you think Lyga wanted to write the next installment? Why would a publisher be interested in publishing a sequel?

Book details

Author:Barry Lyga
Genre:School
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:October 1, 2006
Number of pages:311
Publisher's recommended age(s):14
Read aloud:13
Read alone:13

This review of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byphoenixadvanced June 7, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Very well-written and an alright plot, but I wanted to kill the main character by the end of the book

It was a good book and well written, but the main character is really annoying and is a real whiner. He moans about people pushing him around but never has the guts to do anything about it, he just stands there and does nothing. Also because he is smart, he thinks he is above everyone. The only reason he seems to want to do anything in life is so that he can go back and rub it in people's faces. The character is funny at times, like when he threatens the assistant-principal, but can be really obnoxious, like he does even thank his step-dad who offers to drive him to the comic event and pick him up, which is a 4 hour journey. One annoying thing about this is that the author has seemed to include his own hatred of jocks. I read another one of the author's book 'Boy Toy,' (which is a better book but for an older age group) which, despite the fact that the main character is a sporty guy, there is still a hatred of jocks in the novel. This book had a half-decent plot and didn't take the predictable route I thought it would which was good. However the author seems to forget all his own foreshadowing and the book kind peters out, without a particularly interesting event. The book was enjoyable to read but turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax
Adult Written byksey August 7, 2009
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

isolation and lonliness of high school

This book is a great segue from graphic novels to novels. Also this book contains enough authenticity to attract readers but enough mediation of negative aspects to make up for them.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old August 12, 2011
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

hyg

cool bad
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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