Barry Lyga (born September 11, 1971), nicknamed Barry "Radical" Lyga, is an American young adult novelist and short story writer. He lives in the desert southwest. Lyga majored in English at Yale receiving his BA in 1993. He then spent ten years working at Diamond Comic Distributors after having spent his teenage years immersed in comic books. During this period, Lyga had seen his short stories published. His new book "Archvillian" is set to be released in October of 2010.
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl is Lyga's first novel and was published in 2006. The story arose from Lyga's youthful exploration of plotting and characterization he found in comic books.
Lyga acknowledges that Fanboy and Goth Girl is autobiographical in that "...a lot of what Fanboy describes is [what] I went through...the book has autobiographical elements, but it also has a lot of wish fulfillment." Lyga says that "the entire book just popped into my head all at once."
Fanboy and Goth Girl has two starred reviews and made the School Library Journal's 2006 Best Books list.Kirkus reviews calls it "authentic and well-written". All reviews, though, mention that the "story unfolds slowly." The story is darkly comic. It is told in the first person point of view of Fanboy, a 15-year-old boy who maintains an internal, sarcastic and funny commentary throughout the story. Reviewer Gillian Engberg described Fanboy and Goth Girl as a "realistic, contemporary story of bullying and a teen's private escape." Fanboy is obsessed with comics — graphic novels as he corrects Goth Girl — and a sub-plot trip to a "comic-book convention ...feels authentic."
The looming threat of violence darkens the story. As Lyga says,"I didn't want to shy away from the violent fantasies. We're living in the post-Columbine world." The threat of violence, though, is just a threat and "...the lack of bloodshed was a pleasant surprise" as one book reviewer, Spencer Korson, said.
Publishers Weekly reports that Jeremiah S. Chechik, director of Benny and Joon, is negotiating for film rights.
Donnie lives in a basement room in the home of his newly pregnant mom and his stepdad, who he calls the "step-facist" throughout much of the book, neither of whom get him at all, for lack of a better term. He is obsessed with comics and graphic novels, and spends all of his time creating a graphic novel of his own. He is bullied, excluded, and tormented at school, and has only one friend, Cal, who won't be seen with him in public. He fantasizes about Dina the 'senior goddess' although he knows that he could never have her, it becomes a sore spot between him and Kyra later. He has a bullet in his pocket, keeps a mental list of everyone who has ever tormented him, and dreams of violent revenge. Although he repeatedly sympathizes with the 'kids who go out and shoot up their school' Donnie still maintains that the best revenge he could have was to grow up and be a millionaire while they rot in go-nowhere jobs.
Then he meets Kyra, who has issues of her own: she dresses as a Goth, has attempted suicide, and hates everyone, except, apparently, Donnie. She encourages his dream of showing his graphic novel to a famous artist at the upcoming comics convention. But Donnie's friendships with both Kyra and Cal seem to end badly, and his convention dream blows up in his face. When he finally meets Dina she tells him how horrible it is to be popular, he lets go of all his panic and some of his hatred for the 'jock jerks'. When he finds his bullet missing, and realizes that Kyra is going to kill herself, he finally comes to terms with his feelings, but will that be enough to save her?
Boy Toy is Lyga's second young adult novel. Reviewer Kristin Kloberdanz said that it was an "astounding portrayal of what it is like to be the young male victim."
The novel follows Josh, a victim of child sexual abuse, as he is about to graduate from high school who, at only 12, was sexually abused by his attractive female history teacher. Through a long flashback, readers see how Eve slowly manipulates Josh into a sexual relationship, making him believe they really love each other.
Now Eve is getting out of jail, but Josh is still dealing with the trauma...he's not only afraid to pursue girls, he also has bouts of violence and moments where he zones out uncontrollably. Additionally, Josh begins to worry that he will run into Eve in public.
Josh and all of the other boys in the seventh grade all lust after Mrs. Evelyn Sherman, their history teacher. One day, when Josh misses the bus, she takes him to her house where she lets him drink wine and play video games. She makes him feel grown up and important. This marks the beginning of a sexual relationship that lasts for several months. Over that period of time, Eve tricks Josh into believing that she loves him. Only later does Josh realize that she was seducing him.
As all of this is going on, no one suspects anything. Josh is warned repeatedly by Eve to never say a word. Josh's parents believe that he is being part of an educational experiment that Mrs. Sherman is conducting.
The truth finally comes out one night when Josh is at a birthday party. He attacks a girl in a closet. When his mother comes to pick him up, he accidentally lets slip a detail about his experience with Eve. After a trial, she is sent to prison and Josh's relationship with her becomes public.
During his senior year, Josh is still recovering from what happened. He avoids the girl he attacked who used to be his best friend. It becomes apparent though that she wants to be his girlfriend and has forgiven him for attacking her. Josh is also trying to get a baseball scholarship. To make things even more complicated, Eve has just been released from jail.
Joshua (Josh) Mendel: The main character. He is shy, and good at sports, as well as school. His parents have a rocky relationship, which makes him feel alone much of the time. He is molested by one of his teachers. Josh is 18 in the book, and is 12/13 in the flashbacks.Evelyn (Eve) Sherman: Josh's seventh grade history teacher who pretends to love him so that she can molest him in her apartment. Evelyn is also married to George Sherman. Evelyn is 24 in the flashbacks and is nearly 30 at the back of the bookIsaac (Zik or Ike): One of Josh's best friend and baseball teammate. He is incredibly devoted to his girlfriend, Michelle. He is 18 in the book, 12/13 in the flashbacks.Rachel (Rache) Madison: One of Josh's best friends. She was attacked by Josh in her the closet at her birthday party. She is 18 in the book, and 12/13 in the flashbacks.
Hero-Type is Lyga's third YA novel, also set in Brookdale. Kevin Ross (Kross to his friends) saved Leah Muldoon's life, and the town treats him as a hero. However, when patriotic Brookdale witnesses him removing "Support the Troops" magnets from his car, he's set in a compromising position. The town turns against him, and he engages in a mental and verbal fight with a classmate over the rights and wrongs and simple interpretations and beliefs of what it means to be patriotic.
Goth Girl Rising
Goth Girl Rising is the direct sequel to The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. Set 6 months after the events of the first novel Goth Girl Rising follows Kyra as she returns home from Maryland Mental Health Unit.