Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
Kyra Sellers is back, and if people know what's good for them, they will keep their distance. Her mother has died of cancer, and even her special relationship with Fanboy couldn't keep her life from spiraling out of control. If he hadn't told her father about the bullet, her innermost thoughts would still be hers.
After spending six months under psychological observation in a facility of her father's choosing, Kyra is back at home and expected to resume regular life. Her father has suicide-proofed the house so she can't even shave her legs, and all he wants is for her to behave herself at school.
It all just reminds her of how much Fanboy let her down. He said he'd email and stay in touch, but she never received a single contact. Now she's learning that while she was gone, his life went on. He seems to be everyone's hero, and he's rewritten his comic and is actually choosing to publish it in installments in the school literary rag.
Kyra uses her rebel skills to annoy everyone as much as possible. She refuses to be drawn into heartfelt conversations with her father. Instead, she blames him for her mother's death, and in an effort to shock him, shaves her head. As far as her behavior at school, it's nearly impossible to honor her promise to "be good." The teachers irritate her, the principal has unrealistic expectations, and Fanboy has been sucked into a situation with his comic that she just can't respect.
Almost immediately, Kyra reverts to yelling matches with her father, sneaking out at night, and stealing cars. Plagued by memories of her mother's lingering death, Kyra fights the urge to seek help from her therapist and her friends. How far will she go before she hurts herself or others?
Barry Lyga adds this sequel to THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL to his growing list of impressive YA fiction. What impressed me most about his creation was his ability to get inside Kyra's head to give readers a vivid view of her emotional upheaval.
The suggested audience is 14 and up, which is sensible given its straight-forward, gritty characters and rough dialogue. However, this isn't in any way a fault of the book, since Lyga keeps true to the unique voice of Kyra that he created in the first Fanboy/Goth Girl book.
This is the sequel to the "Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl". You wouldn't absolutely have to read the first book to understand whats going on in this one, but reading the first book gives you Fanboy's perspective on things and helps this book make a lot more sense. So, I guess I would recommend reading the first book before this one. This was a pretty darn good book by itself. I had a lot of trouble putting it down, Goth Girl is a very engaging character.
After the incident with the bullet in the first book Kyra is sent to a mental ward. This book starts as she is returning back to school from the mental ward. When she returns to life "outside" she is peeved to find out that none of her friends have e-mailed her in the 6 months she was gone. She is especially pissed at Fanboy. When she goes back to school she finds that Fanboy has started publishing his graphic novel "Schemata" in the school newspaper and on top of that people actually like him now. The whole thing makes her even madder and she sets out to plot her revenge against Fanboy.
Overall this book was paced much like the first one. This book is all from Goth Girl's view. Goth Girl spends a lot of time thinking and struggling with her rage throughout this book and dealing with her mother's death. The chapters are interrupted by occasional letters to Neil (Neil Gaiman) where she talks out the things that are bugging her. There are a boatload of references to Neil Gaiman's Sandman in here. I am a huge Gaiman fan so I enjoyed those references. There was also a lot of discussion around what different parts of the Sandman novels actually mean; it makes me want to go back and read them all more carefully to see what I missed.
I thought that this story wasn't quite as good as "The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl" in a couple of aspects. Goth Girl spends a lot of the beginning of the book complaining about her big breasts and how people notice them too much. Way too much time is spent on this. I started scanning the parts of the book where she just spends too much time on this. I also thought it took way too long for Goth Girl to come to some of the revelations that she came to; it made her come off as a little dim at parts. I know Fanboy is super smart, but I never thought Goth Girl was stupid and there are parts of this book where she acts pretty stupid (although smarter than her girlfriends).
Still, overall I really enjoyed the story. This is another one of those young adult books that talks about how young adults deal with anger and with the crappy hand that life deals them. I am sure many people can relate to this book. Kids who have lost a close loved one will relate with a lot of the feelings Kyra (Goth Girl) deals with. The thing I love most about this book is that the writing is witty and snappy. This book makes reading about all the heaviness in Kyra's life kind of fun for the most part. I really do enjoy Lyga's writing style.
Will I be reading more Lyga books? Not for a while; just because I prefer fantasy/paranormal books to angst ridden young adult books. I will definitely check out some more of his books when I am in the mood for some more young adult drama.
Goth Girl was a powerfully written story of Kyra, a teenage girl dealing with the loss of her mother to lung cancer. We met Kyra in The Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, where she befriends Fanboy and helps him to see the opposite sex as more than just an object which in turn helps with the development of his comic book. At the end of the story though Fanboy is frightened that Kyra may try to take her life, so he makes an anonymous call to her dad to warn him. Goth Girl Rising starts with Kyra being released from the "hospital" after a 6 month stay. She ended up there as a direst result of Fanboy's phone call, so she's angry with him and she plans different forms of revenge. She's also reconnecting with her friends and doing a lot of fighting with her father. She has many confrontations with the teachers and vice-principal, but really she's just trying find her way back into the world to what's normal. A few of the chapters are actually letters to Neil Gaiman, because she's made a connection to his Sandman comics, the character, Death especially. She's looking for answers and just feels all alone. This story is a sensitive look at a teenage girl dealing with all that life has to throw at her and Barry Lyga does it so well.