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Friday, October 9, 2009

Life Interrupted: Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga

It's Friday!  Can I get a "WHOO-Hoo"?  Okay, maybe not....I'll supply it.  WHOO-Hoo!  (That's better.) It is the end of a very long week (at least for me, how about you?).  Hopefully you enjoyed yesterday's Virtual Book Blog Tour with Stacey Voss and her new book Thunder and Blood.  It was a first for the site, but not the last! (hehe)

Anywho....I suppose I could end with something light and fluffy, but darn it all it is October!  The time for dark, spooky, tales that leave your skin crawling and the light on in your hallway.  (Muuuaaahhhh! *Cough*cough* Okay, so I need to work on the evil laughter bit...) Unfortunately, today's post is not an exact fit into that mold....but it definitely fits the heavy atmosphere and costume-type themes that pop up during this season.  Enough chit-chat (at least in this section) from's choice is...

Goth Girl Rising
Barry Lyga

Kyra (aka Goth Girl) is a teenager with a penchant for trouble.  She drinks, she smokes, she hangs with her friends....oh, and yes, she just got out of a mental institution for the second time.  Yup...but don't go making any judgements just yet.  Kyra is not a "fruitcake-from-down-the-block", she's a DCHH ("Daddy Can't Handle Her", used in the book as a label by some of the hospital staff) that tried to commit suicide...twice.  Well, once for certain, the second was more of a consideration stopped by one, Fanboy.  Who is he?  Fanboy, as she deems to call him throughout almost the entire book, is someone she befriended in her freshman year. 

Two outcasts looking for a connection in all the wrong places that ended up being good for each other, even if outwardly it didn't seem that way.  (Confused?  Keep reading...)  Why would a young girl with friends and family want to leave this world?  At 16, she lost her mother to lung cancer....and in the process her self, whether she admits it or not is another story entirely.  Without facing her problems head on, her focus becomes blurred as she delves into feelings of abandonment dredged up during her hospital stay.  Few phone calls, even fewer emails, and 6 months to dwell on why she feels the way she does.  Emerging from this structured place sets free her desire for revenge on Fanboy.  For deserting her.  For moving on with friends that were not her.  Oh, yes...revenge will be sweet.  Or will it?  Does Goth Girl have what it takes to bring down her own creation known as Fanboy?  Is that was she really wants at the end of the day?  You'll have to read it to find out!  (Sorry.....trying to avoid total spoilers....)

Alrighty, so before I jump into the critical analysis (aka my usual ramblings), there are two things I must mention first.
  1. This is actually the sequel to "The Adventures of Goth Girl and Fanboy".  To answer your question (if you didn't voice it, it's in your mind), I have not read the first installment but must say that I never felt "lost" in the book despite any fore-knowledge of the characters. (KUDOS to the author for making the "sequel" able to be followed by the uninitiated!)
  2. I would be remiss if I did not list a WARNING for this book here goes.  WARNING:  Contains strong language and imagery.  Open discussions and details regarding sex, drugs, teenage drinking, and suicide.  This may be one to debate whether or not the potential audience is old enough to handle the material.
Whew!  I feel much better that those are out of the way, don't you?  To me, the way this book is written, kind of like an internal dialogue effect, it reminded me of a brassier version of "My So Called Life..." (a short lived TV series from the 90's....dealt with some of the same issues, but in a little softer fashion...if you can believe that!).  With it's use of brass knuckle language, and in-your-face attitude towards sex, drugs, and drinking....I must say I was seriously put off when reading this.  I could not believe for the life of me that this was rated as a YA book!  HOWEVER, underneath all the white makeup, hair changes (she pulls a Britney and shaves her head at one point), and crazy actions, there is a very good message there!  By the end of the book, I was actually crying!  (Hey, no judging!  Read it and you will be teary eyed too...guaranteed.)

Real-life issues and heartache are both prominent stars within this novel (yes, defnitely not a good book for light and fluffy time).  Goth Girl's family is torn apart by the passing of her mother due to lung cancer.  She harbors A LOT of anger that she can barely admit to herself, let alone show the world in an appropriate fashion....hence her no-filter language (although she does refrain from using the F-word, and this restraint is explained by the books end), take-that world attitude, and the attempt she makes on her own life.  It was a way for her to deal with everything that was going on....try to regain control over the situation.  Sadly, this is something people of all ages face, but it is definitely not the option that should be chosen!  You may be ending your sadness but you are increasing it for others ten-fold.  Luckily, she has a few "angels" in her corner...her Dad, and Fanboy.

Let's talk about Fanboy for a second.....that's literally the name she uses to refer to him throughout the almost the entire book!  He is the comic book geek that she befriended prior to her second stay in the mental health facility.  He is also the reason that she has revenge on the mind once she is back in society.  Yes...the doctors tried and succeeded on many levels, but alas, her tortured soul can not let the fact that she was forgotten go (no emails, no phone calls).  The schemes she tries are rather creative despite being transparent  Finally towards the end, his real name is revealed (no, I'm not going to tell you...) when a breakthrough is reached. 

Strewn within the text are quite a few remarkable features and details.  Let's see...we have her appearance (initally) with the Bangs of Doom (had to get that in here....loved the reference), her adimacy in wearing a reverse color smiley pin every day (there's a secret that goes with that revealed in the book), and her love of the Neil Gaiman comic, The Sandman.  Now I am not one for graphic novels, comic books, etc....but even I've heard of that one and so the reference was rather interesting.  As a part of her therapy, she writes a letter about whatevers on her mind and the person she chose to "send" them to is Gaiman.  (The end of the book there's a change up to this, but again....can't reveal it!) 

There's ups, there's downs, there's sideways and back again....a wild ride to say the least. If you look past the tough exterior, you will find the story at heart with a message of gold.  Cherish every moment of every day as a precious gift because you never know when it will be your (or their) last.  (Who would have thought that message would come from this book?  Not me....and yet it's true!)

This copy was made available to me electronically thanks to NetGalley! (Thanks!) For the latest and greatest info from them, follow them on Twitter! (Psst...they also retweet reviews of titles they "host".)

As I stated, I had a REALLY hard time finishing this book due to the "outer layers", but I am also REALLY glad I kept at it as it was worth it in the end!  Have you ever experienced this in your reading adventures?  Name the first book that comes to mind, why it was hard to finish, and (if you want) what you took away from it in the end.  Let's see where the conversation takes us....

Feel free to leave your comments and feedback!
Until  next time....happy reading!


Tales of Whimsy said...


Fantastic review. Love the caution!

Alexia561 said...

Great review! Loved how you listed your concerns, what you liked and didn't like, and especially the cautions. Great job!

And what an awesome cover! Very dramatic.

Pop Culture Nerd said...

There are no books I'm glad I stuck with until the end. If it's tough going and really annoying at the halfway mark, I will jump ship. Sometimes I'll abandon it even earlier if it's super bad and clearly not going to improve. Too many books and too little time so I really can't waste any.

Your review is very good, though.

Gina said...

Hmmm, seems like this one's not quite as popular among the commenters....

Juju: Knew I could count on you for the "whoo-hoo"! Thanks for not disappointing!

Alexia561: I totally agree on the's one of the things that drew my eye as well. Glad you appreciated the review structure too!

Pop Culture Nerd: I am with you on the so many books, so little time....still glad I stuck with it though. Guess it came from reading a few that I liked...until the end.

Felicity Grace Terry said...

What an amazing cover. Thanks for that review.

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