Saturday, August 11, 2007

Astonishing and annoying

My listening of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl was interrupted for almost two weeks after leaving the last three disks on the JAL flight from Beijing to Tokyo, and then tackling Harry Potter. I did remember a great deal about the plot in the hiatus, but -- at the time I finished the title a week ago -- I was really over both Fanboy and Goth Girl. Stop whining, kids! Your superiority is really weighing on me.

But, as I sat down at my computer this week, prepared to give Fanboy a resounding thumbs down (no doubt with a sarcastic turn worthy of Fanboy [whose "real" name I can't remember]), I realized that my dislike and impatience with the story and the characters were what made it a near-great teen novel. And, in addition to the authentic teens that populate this story, the book itself successfully carried off a classic structure: Introduction of main character, build to a crisis, crisis changes character. In this case, Fanboy is indeed altered by the Goth Girl-perpetrated fiasco at the comics convention. It's just that those changes don't resolve into a nice, neat package at the end. Fanboy and Goth Girl are still whining, still superior, and still in some ways clueless about their behavior.

The narrator, Scott Brick, has a long list of audiobooks under his belt -- mostly adult titles. Some on the committee are concerned about whether he sounds "too old" to portray 15-year-old Fanboy; I'm looking forward to our discussions on this book. Brick's deep, slightly gravelly voice didn't set off any age-appropriate alarm bells for me -- in fact, I felt he worked hard (and successfully) to capture Fanboy's sense of superiority and entitlement, while never forgetting the underlying insecurity and loneliness that is such a critical part of his character.

This title is languishing on the shelves at Multnomah County Library. Of 15 print copies, just two are checked out, and all six audios (purchased my me ... ouch!) are on the shelf. I wonder why? Is it the cover? Do graphic novel fans only browse the shelves of the graphic novel section? Some serious handselling will have to occur ... I think I'll booktalk it at our next youth services meeting (I was going to do Life as We Knew It ... but desperate measures are called for!) and put it on our New and Notable list.

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