Date Started: 9/29/18
Date Finished: 9/30/18
Publication Date: 4/18/17
Genre: YA Contemporary
POV: 1st Person
[CW: Gun Violence, Suicide/Suicidal Thoughts, Racisim/Islamophobia]
I recently picked up an ecopy of Bang from my library’s ebook lending service. I chose it on a whim, intrigued by the striking, bold cover and the synopsis.
The book tells the story of Sebastian, a 14-year-old who shot and killed his baby sister when he was 4 years old. This is something he’s had to live with his entire life, and it’s been weighing on him. Everyone knows about the incident, except the new family who moves in. He befriends Aneesa, a girl his age, and his dark summer plans change as their friendship blooms.
I think that the friendship between Sebastian and Aneesa felt really genuine and natural. They bonded over Youtube, video games, and pizza, which is just how I remember making friends when I was that age. While the characters are wise and bright, they’re still kids, which I appreciated. Their friendship felt very developed, which is more than I can say for Sebastian and Evan’s friendship, which felt a lot less real. Evan wasn’t really a big focus in the story, since he was away for the summer, so we sort of lose him to the plot.
Also, bonus points for Aneesa being a Muslim character! The focus of the book wasn’t on her religion or race at all, but when it came up at times, it was definitely interesting to hear her perspective. There was some Islamophobia directed at her at times, but she handles it with grace, which is really admirable.
I won’t spoil anything, but I love how everything came together at the end. It’s messy and imperfect, and I love that. In real life we don’t get perfect happily ever afters. People stay broken and damaged. One quote from the story really stuck out to me: “We heal wounds. Not time. Us.”
I love that this book doesn’t really try to shove any political opinions on guns down our throats. While there’s mention of how news outlets reacted to the story and of certain characters’ opinions on gun ownership, there’s really no overt message or agenda pushed at us. It’s just a story about something very real that unfortunately happens.
I really appreciated the very short chapters. It helped the pages of the book fly by, since it was so easy to say “just one more chapter!” Some chapters could be read in as little as a minute, so multiple chapters could be read in a single sitting. The entire novel could probably read in a single day, if you have the time.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed the novel. While there were some slower parts in it, they’re balanced out by the short chapter. The natural friendship and balance of heavy and light themes really
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