Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Title: Friends With Boys
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: First Second
Release date: 02/28/2012
ISBN: 1596435569

I have to admit that I'm a big fan of indie comics in general. Hopeless-Savages, Koko be Good, and Blue Monday... I love them all. Friends With Boys can now be added to this list. I literally sat and devoured this in one night, flipping back to scenes and images that I particularly loved, especially Maggie's interactions with her family.
A coming-of-age tale with a spooky twist! Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers. Funny, surprising, and tender, Friends with Boys is a pitch perfect YA graphic novel full of spooky supernatural fun.

One of the best things about this comic was that the main character isn't some picture-perfect character with flawless skin and great hair. (You know the ones I'm talking about- the characters who are supposed to be outcasts but look like models instead.) Maggie does have good skin, but most importantly she isn't perfect. She has hair that sticks straight up and a huge nose, which I found refreshing. It makes her that much easier to instantly relate to as an average person. I also loved Maggie's expressions throughout the book. She's a very expressive character and it shows through her facial features. Another thing that I loved about the artwork is that it reminds me of so many different artists without actually copying their style. Hicks might have potentially been inspired by them, but her artwork style is all her own. (Especially reminds me of Koko be Good and Blue Monday.)

The story line here is pretty interesting, although I'd like to warn people that the ghost part of the story is never fully explored. I'm not sure if that means there will be another volume, but if you're hoping for a big ghost story then you'll be disappointed. She (the ghost) does factor into the story, but not as the main grab. No, the biggest and most basic focus of the story is Maggie growing up and adapting to life outside of her comfort zone. Hicks does a good job of showing this off, from Maggie's awkward first day to her attempts to deal with some of the more major issues of her life.

This is only a brief glimpse into Maggie's world and I hope that this won't be the last I see of her, but this does work as a stand alone book for the most part. People wanting a definitive ending will undoubtedly get frustrated at it and I won't entirely blame them. This doesn't have the clear cut ending that I normally want my stories to have, but it's satisfying enough that I won't begrudge it. I loved this manga and I would love to see more like it, if not more of Maggie herself.

If you're curious, Friends With Boys is also available online as a webcomic at the author's website. (Click here to go to the site.)

5 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Amazon Vine)

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