The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl

by Barry Lyga.

(Try to ignore the bombastic title.)

Skinny guy living in his mother’s basement, computer and comic book geek, bullied at school, convinced everyone hates him. Self-proclaimed brainiac loser and his bullet, good liar, surviving from week to week between gym classes, hoping to start over in college. Sounds familiar? Sometimes it’s good to know, there are people worse off.

With more than a fair deal of unrealistic moments (IM date, Dina) and obvious plot turns (stolen bullet, step-fascist helps, she’s at the con), this novel is only as good as its sarcastic narrator. I liked the ending a lot, though.


  • (his dad) The best revenge is living well.
  • (about being bullied) “Just ignore them. […] What do you care what they think? Just ignore them and they’ll go away.”
    They didn’t go away though. […] and pretty soon there was nothing to say, nothing to do, because how are you supposed to suddenly stand up to them after years of silence and nothing?
  • My first experience with unreasoning, unrelenting pain. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a preview of the rest of my life. Pain for no reason. Pain in different varieties.
  • “Why would I lie about something like this?” Oh, the liar’s best friend.
  • It’s not good to remind them that I exist. Not good at all. I can’t afford to let myself feel good, to let my guard down, to think for a single moment that I belong.
    Because I don’t.
  • (Kyra) People are stupid. People suck. Period.
  • I can’t believe I’ve met someone who hates people more than I do.
  • (“My kid can beat up your honor student” bumper sticker) Why do people I don’t even know hate me, just for being smart? What sin is that?
  • Shouting casually. Tough to do.
  • (his mom) The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference.
  • (Kyra) Other people are just … there. […] If they aren’t helping, they’re just in the way. Weave around them, knock them over, do whatever you have to, but get past them.
  • Hell is being alone.
  • I’m not really thinking now. I’m an observer. When it’s really coming — whether it’s art or story or both — that’s what it’s like. It’s like watching someone else do the creating, watching other hands and hearts at work. And it’s easy that way.
  • I don’t feel threatened because no one knows me here.
  • They laugh. Friends standing together in the lobby. Friends who get to do whatever they want. I hate them. That’s it. I hate them all.
  • I don’t know and I don’t care anymore. I was supposed to win today. I was supposed to have my way for once, just for once in my life. I did everything right. I did a great story and I brought it to the perfect person and I got nothing for it. And now I have to go back to school and look at everyone and be a failure and stay that way.
    I want to kill them all. No, better yet, I want to die. No, even better than that: I want to kill them and then die. I thought high school was the end of it, the end of the bullshit cliques and the groups and cool kids. But it’s not. It’s just the beginning. It’s just the beginning and it only gets worse from here. College won’t be any better, and after college won’t be any better, and I might as well finish it.
    Finish it now.
    There’s no point. I’ll always be a loser. I’ll never have friends, real friends, friends I can keep. No one will ever care. […] it’ll be like I was never here. And that’s better for them all. It’s better for them that I go now, that I leave now, it’s easier that way because I’ll never be anything, and I’ll never be anyone and I’ll always be a virgin and I’ll never kiss a girl even, and who can blame them, I’m just a skinny ugly freak and I don’t blame them, I don’t blame a single one of them.
  • I don’t want to drink. I don’t want to be here. I don’t do stuff like this, stuff that’s wrong. […] It’s like I told Kyra: There’s right and there’s wrong. That’s it.
  • Not a chance in any hell dreamed of in any theology.
  • (Dina) Someone’s going to understand and appreciate you. It’ll happen. Trust me.
    It’s all about confidence.
  • Revenge is a dish best served cold.
  • That’s the problem with lies. Tell enough of them and you can get screwed if you lose track.
  • (Kyra) “Yes you would. You would. Because she’s perfect. She’s perfect and I’m broken. Just a broken piece of –” Her body hitches as she suppresses a sob, and she looks down at the leather bands on her wrists. “Broken…” It’s a whisper.

See also:

PRs: 73, 118, chrysalis, 138.

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