Review: Bang by Barry Lyga @TheNovl @lbkids

31420736Published: April 18th 2017

Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR

Genres: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Source: ARC via NOVL for review

My Rating: 4.25 Stars

A chunk of old memory, adrift in a pool of blood.

Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one–not even Sebastian himself–can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father’s gun.

Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend–Aneesa–to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past.

It took a gun to get him into this.

Now he needs a gun to get out.

Unflinching and honest, Bang is as true and as relevant as tomorrow’s headlines, the story of one boy and one moment in time that cannot be reclaimed.

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*I was sent an advance reading copy of this book, from Little Brown/The NOVL, for review purposes. All opinions are my own.*

Bang is not a story that I’ve read in the YA genre before. Although some issues in this book have been done before, the ones that stood out the most – gun violence and Muslimophobia, seems to escape my notice in YA lit. This is my first go ’round with Barry Lyga, so I had no clue what to really expect. I can say that this book surprised me, and brought out a number of emotions. Besides the engrossing story, the book is very well written and it delivered on the issues presented.

If you read the synopsis, then you know that Sebastian killed his little sister when he was four. I know, tragic right? It is not something that I know a lot about. As a kid, I remember waking up to sirens and our street flooded with cops and an ambulance. My neighbor, who was around 8 at the time, was accidentally shot in the head by his 11 year-old cousin who was visiting. He lived, so I can’t say how it would have been for his family had he died. Sebastian’s story is…… I just can’t explain it. How do you move on from something devastating like that? His mind was everywhere, but not in the chaotic sense. He was mentally breaking down and wanting to right the wrong he did when he was a toddler. His mother was even more melancholy. I am impressed by the way the author displayed their emotions, as it made the story so much more real. Sebastian’s desire to kill himself just tore at my heartstrings. I just have this thing about mental illness represented in literature; especially in YA.

The other side to this story is the arrival of Aneesa. Now, with all that’s going on in this world – this country to be more exact, I was surprised at the anti Muslim issue, but I think it was well placed within the story. Aneesa’s character is very much a part of this story. She and Sebastian become good friends, but it was not always easy. I actually balled up my fists a few times while reading. I cannot tolerate hate in any form or fashion. So I felt for Aneesa as she had to deal with it all. I love her character, as she was just a lively girl and she was there for Sebastian. He definitely needed a friend. Sebastian got a little carried away at one point in their friendship, but it all worked out for the best. Okay, so I may have laughed about it. It wasn’t really funny until Sebastian says the word that was rolling around in my head when it happened. Then, I could laugh because it was his thought that made it okay. 

I don’t want to spoil this, so I can’t say more. This book is raw and emotional, but not so much that you won’t enjoy it. Barry Lyga definitely has me wanting to read more of his work. Okay, maybe not the serial killer ones. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy realistic fiction. It’s not a long read, and I was surprised by how much emotion is packed into it. Again, the writing is superb and I think Lyga created a realistic account of what it’s like to live with a family tragedy such as this. 



12 thoughts on “Review: Bang by Barry Lyga @TheNovl @lbkids

  1. This does sound like quite a heavy but important book. I had a friend who accidentally shot and killed his little sister when we were about 14. It was devastating and I don’t know if its our context but people changed around him. Most kids were not even allowed to associate with him anymore. I can only imagine what he went through though. This is definitely a book that I would like to read.


  2. This is such a heartbreaking story and it really pains me that such incidents happen pretty regularly around the world. Big thumbs up to this author for exploring such a tough topic and to you as well for being strong enough to read it. So glad you enjoyed this!


  3. What a provocative story and very timely too. It’s cool that Lyga wrote this for the younger audience, I hope it opens up some minds at the same time I’m sure this can be polarizing as well depending on where you stand on the issues.

    I love Lyga, you should check out his other books!


  4. Oh, this poor boy! I think this would break my heart! I hope it all worked out and he didn’t commit suicide in the end. He was so young, clearly not at fault, but how could you live with the guilt? I did read I Hunt Killers and was impressed by Barry Lyga, so I’ll have to think about reading this one. Wonderful review, Lekeisha! 🙂


  5. I’ve been curious about his work and will have to dive into it one day. Thanks for letting me know that it is emotional, but you can still get through it. Oh I can see this being emotional and I would have avoided it otherwise. Brilly review!


  6. Good to see you back, Lekeisha. I hadn’t heard of this one, but Nereyda recently read his other series and loved it. I like that it tackles current social issues. I can already tell I will rage because of all the hate that Aneesa experiences. I can tell this one hit you with all the emotions. Those are always the best kinds of books.
    Great review!


  7. I am in awe that a writer went there with the shooting death and even the hate issues all in this book. It must have been stunning to read. I definitely want to read it though also not read it at the same time.
    Thanks, Lekeisha!


  8. I can’t even begin to fathom what I would have done if I had accidentally killed my younger sister when were smaller. I don’t even want to think about it, really. And even the personal story you had, despite your neighbour living, must have been so difficult. So I can understand why the emotions in this novel would be so strong and so hard to handle at times. Those other themes you mentioned are also interesting. I haven’t read another novel about them either…


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