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Friends with Boys [Paperback]

Faith Erin Hicks
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 11.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012
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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; Original edition (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596435569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596435568
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 15.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

FAITH ERIN HICKS is a writer and artist in Halifax, Canada. Her first two graphic novels, Zombies Calling and The War at Ellsmere, were published by SLG Publishing. Most recently, she illustrated First Second's Brain Camp. Hicks has three brothers and was homeschooled until high school. She has never seen a ghost.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shining brilliance 26 Jan 2014
By Noel TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In Chuck Klosterman's delightful book on villains, I Wear The Black Hat, the pop culture critic writes that he sometimes wishes he could just write "I LOVE THIS" or "I HATE THIS" when reviewing certain works of art and leave it at that, not (entirely) out of laziness but because teasing out the reasoning behind it dilutes the purity of his visceral reaction. I'm tempted to just say for this book "I LOVE THIS x 1000!" and it'd be true but probably not that informative!

Maggie is about to start her first day of high school after being home-schooled for years. She's also the youngest of her siblings making her the last to start high school in her family - her twin brothers, Lloyd and Zander, and oldest brother Daniel, all having started years earlier. Her mother's left the family for some reason, her dad's been promoted to police chief of their small town and everything's changing. Oh and she's also haunted by a Victorian ghost...

Like a lot of First Second books, Friends With Boys is marketed as a young adult book and the high school subject matter is certainly appropriate for that demo, but, also like a lot of their books, this one can be enjoyed by adult readers as well. On the surface, it's a wonderful coming-of-age story with loveable characters told in a compelling style, but there's also layers to the story that can be appreciated.

Coming-of-age stories tend to focus on identity, which is the case here. Maggie is finding out what kind of person she is by moving away from the safety of her family home into the wider world of the public school and making friends outside of her brothers, while her twin brothers are struggling with establishing their separate identities from one another.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved every page 4 Jan 2013
By Sailesh
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The characters, the art, and the story were absolutely brilliant! Had to read it all in one go. It's one of those graphic novels where you fall in love with every single character and wish it to never stop.

Buy it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 11 Sep 2012
By Nina
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very charming and well-illustrated story. I first found Friends With Boys online (back when it was still on the 'net), and I knew I had to buy it. The illustrations are expressive, cute and casual, and the story is conveyed well. Definitely one of the better comics I've read.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  46 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ordinary life, ordinary story but great artwork 1 Jan 2012
By Yoomi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm torn. I fell in love with Maggie and her brothers. I would have loved friends like Lucy and Alistair in high school. But once I was finished with this graphic novel, my mind was blank. The story felt incomplete. I have too many questions. How did the haunting fit into her life? Why her? And what about the others who could see her but weren't haunted by her? Was it resolved at the end or did she just learn to accept it? Maggie questions her mother's sudden disappearance but the boys and the father just seem to accept it. Considering the father is a cop, it seems odd.

If I ignore these nagging questions, it's a great vignette of Maggie's life starting at a public high school after being homeschooled for the first part of her life. The artwork is great and I loved the detail on every page. I just wish there was more to it. I don't expect all questions to be answered in a story (they rarely are in real life, especially in high school) but I felt that these were neglected gaps in the story rather than questions that are left up to the reader to answer.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining [3.5 Stars] 26 Jan 2012
By T. Adlam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I read the book's inside flap--a story about a homeschooled girl, Maggie McKay, going to public high school for the first time, and as if that wasn't bad enough, she's also (literally) haunted--I was completely intrigued and prepared myself to fall in love. Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way.

The artwork reminded me of a classic comic style, but updated and with manga/anime influences, and the black/white/greyscale rendering actually contributed to some of the story's bleaker themes. Each of the characters were drawn with great expression of emotion and the wise arrangement of the panels made them easy to follow, plus it was well-written and well-edited.

But as much as I wanted to love this graphic novel, at times I found the main story muddied--it came across as a disjointed telling of too many stories in too short a space--and resulted in some of the themes/characters not being too deeply explored.

Basically, Maggie's was a coming of age story which explored themes like adjusting to new situations, socializing, and self-acceptance. On top of that, she had to deal with a number of inner demons--mainly surrounding the estrangement of her mother--which shadowed her literal haunting. However, the literal haunting seemed more like a contrivance to facilitate the story's climax than an integral part of the story.

Even with that quibble, I did find the book entertaining. Maggie's story was engrossing and, as a character, she was skillfully crafted. It's unfortunate that I can't say the same of all the remaining characters (at least, not consistently), many of which lacked dimension--again, probably stemming from the trying-to-cram-too-much-in problem I mentioned earlier.

The book left various threads untied and questions unanswered (possibly to be answered in future web comics*) and when I turned the final page, although I did enjoy it, I was still a bit disappointed. I should also note that if you're expecting a horror, a supernatural chiller, or even anything remotely creepy, you won't find it in this book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Day at a New School for Homeschool Teen with a Ghost 1 Mar 2012
By Nicola Manning-Mansfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Reason for Reading: I enjoy the author/artist and was intrigued that the book was about homeschooled teens.

The author is obviously writing from her own life seeing as she was homeschooled until high school and has three brothers. This is the background of the main character in the book, added to Maggie's life is that her mom has just skipped out on them without her really knowing why and Maggie has been haunted by a 17th century ghost since she was about six. I really enjoyed this book. I think it gave a fairly accurate portrayal of homeschool life though Hicks did treat it like it was the 1990's, not now when it has become pretty much mainstream. (I was homeschooled for high school in the '80s and have been homeschooling my children in one way or another for the last 19 years.)

The title is a little deceptive as I thought we might get into dating and stuff, but it refers to sisters being friends with their brothers and I really appreciated this theme. I don't have any brothers but I really envied the close relationship Maggie had with hers and how the relationship between Lucy and Alistair developed also. The book deals with other typical teen subjects such as being new to a school, dealing with bullies, how to make friends and what it's like when your brother is popular but you are not. Hicks artwork is as expected and truly measures up to her other work making it a delight to look at. The only problem with this could be that she draws her characters very similar and the main two females in this book are almost identical to the two females in "The War at Ellesmere" with different hairdos.

I loved the characters, the story about the teens at school, the family dynamics, etc. but the bit about the ghost haunting was an oddity. It stuck out at first and didn't seem to fit in with the rest but eventually it came together and found a place within the larger scheme of things. Only, while I was happy with the way things ended for the humans in the story, the ghost ending was rather abrupt and left many unanswered questions. These kinds of endings bother me, but it does give one thoughts to ponder. Taken as a whole, this is my favourite book by Faith Erin Hicks so far and the small irritations I had with it don't amount to the lessening of my enjoyment, so I'm sticking with the full 5 stars.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great concept but why the ghost story? 10 Jan 2012
By Miss Sam, the Librarian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really enjoyed the start of this graphic novel. The art style was fun (reminded me of Scott O'Malley's Scott Pilgrims Precious Little Boxset series) Maggie is an interesting character - the youngest child of four, the only girl in the family, homeschooled and about to enter public high school. Her mother is not around having abandoned the family for some unexplained reason, but her father is a strong figure in her life and she is a confident young woman. I was ready to follow her on her new adventure in 9th grade.

So why is there a random ghost in this story? The "paranormal twist" felt very tacked on. It actually detracted for a very strong coming-of-age story. Maggie was refreshingly down to earth and funny. I see what the author wanted to do with the ghost, but the idea was poorly executed. I hope to see more from this writer/artist.

'Friends with Boys' is a good read but it has some flaws that keep it from being great. (If you want to read a coming-of-age story with a well-done paranormal twist, check out Anya's Ghost).
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good graphic novel 25 Feb 2012
By Anidori-Isilee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've never actually reviewed a graphic novel before, and I'm not entirely sure how. I also haven't read much in the way of graphic novels, so I don't know what makes a graphic novel good.

That being said, I enjoyed FRIENDS WITH BOYS, about a girl named Maggie just starting at a public high school after being homeschooled for her whole life. I could relate; I actually attended a public elementary school and was homeschooled for high school, but coming to college was definitely weird, which was my motivation in reading FRIENDS WITH BOYS.

I liked the artwork. It was detailed and clear and easy to follow. I also liked the characters, although Maggie was the only truly developed character. The others were more one-dimensional, which isn't to say that they had no personality. You got senses, though, of Maggie's brothers and friends were like, rather than actually knowing. It didn't bother me.

More disappointing was the development of the plot. There was a lot in this graphic novel. Adapting to high school after homeschool is quite enough for a novel, but there's also a ghost story aspect to this graphic novel. I think that the haunting is somehow supposed to be somehow symbolic, having something to do with Maggie's missing mother, but really, it just seemed random. I think Hicks tried to do too much here, and I think it would have been better if she told the story of a girl haunted by a ghost or an ex-homeschooler finding herself in a public high school, but not both. However, FRIENDS WITH BOYS is still an entertaining graphic novel, and I'd definitely recommend it.
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