Skip to main content

Bang

Review

Bang

In BANG, author Barry Lyga’s most gripping, poignant book to date, readers are invited into the mind of a murderer who has spent 10 horrifying years dealing with a pervading guilt that no human deserves.

When Sebastian Cody was only four-years-old, his life was changed forever when he picked up his father’s loaded gun to play with it. In a ripped-from-the-headlines plot twist, Sebastian shot and murdered his infant sister and destroyed his family forever.

"BANG is a difficult read, for its heavy emotions and painful storyline, but it is an important one...a vivid and unflinching look at the powers of memory, guilt and acceptance [that] will enrich any reader’s life."

Now, 10 years later, Sebastian is 14 and tired of dealing with the guilt and discrimination. For years, people have regarded him differently and asked him rude, painful questions about whether or not he remembers killing his sister and how he feels now. On top of that, his parents have since separated and neither one has ever treated him the same again. Add all of this to the regular woes of being a teenager and it becomes clear that Sebastian is in way over his head. He is ready to end it all with the very same item that set everything off: a gun.

Although this plot may already sound totally unrelatable and over the top, Lyga does a truly masterful job of balancing the darker sides of Sebastian’s character with very normal teenage wants and desires: Sebastian has a best friend, loves making pizza, forgets about school assignments and thinks about girls more than he should.

Things begin to change when Sebastian meets Aneesa. As a new student at Sebastian’s school, Aneesa has no idea about Sebastian’s past and thus meets him as a regular teenage boy. As a Muslim girl, Aneesa is also a bit of an outsider, so it is easy for the two to bond without discussing their pasts --- of course, Aneesa has a few uncomfortable secrets too.

Refreshingly, Aneesa is not a stereotype when it comes to her relationship with Sebastian. Lyga does not toss her in merely to save him with puppy love. Instead, she provides Sebastian with one of the only stable relationships he has ever known, which in turn allows him the backbone and support that he needs to really explore his own feelings and mental state.

There is a dark, powerful twist to BANG that I cannot reveal here, but I will say that it was one of the most gripping and unexpected twists I have ever read in any book. BANG is a difficult read, for its heavy emotions and painful storyline, but it is an important one, particularly now, as gun control is becoming one of the most discussed issues in America. However, BANG is not an “issue book,” or one that reads like an after school special. Instead, it is a vivid and unflinching look at the powers of memory, guilt and acceptance and it will enrich any reader’s life --- just be prepared for the book hangover.

Reviewed by Audrey Slater on April 28, 2017

Bang
by Barry Lyga

  • Publication Date: April 18, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316315508
  • ISBN-13: 9780316315500