A CFHS student reviews a book about several hardships a young boy endures.


Amelia Qualey

“Bang,” by Barry Lyra, is a story about devastation and guilt.

The feeling of guilt can be devastating. It is an ever-present tormentor to anyone unlucky enough to be faced with it. To “forgive and forget” is often the best way to absolve someone of guilt, but what happens when neither can be done? In “Bang”, by Barry Lyga, Sebastion Cody is faced with this dilemma while trying to navigate a normal life.

The story begins with Sebastion recounting what he was told about the day he accidentally shot his baby sister with an unattended gun ten years ago. We learn that his parents separated because of the incident and his mom never returned to her old self. These conditions lead to Sebastion throwing himself into his schoolwork as a distraction. He also finds an escape from his deranged life. His best friend, Evan, is the only one who remained by his side after the accident. 

These distractions don’t last long though. School is ending for the year and Evan is headed to a camp in the summer. The thought of being alone with his thoughts sends Sebastion into a dangerous spiral before he meets the new girl in town. Sebastion finds comfort in the fact that the newcomer, Aneesa, doesn’t know his secret and they quickly become friends. For the first time in a while, Sebastion is happy and free from the feeling of guilt that had been following him.

The book continues to follow Sebastion through many unexpected twists and dark moments. He is shown in a vulnerable light at times, but Sebastion always finds a way to establish himself as a tragic villain. At times, Sebastion is left without respite from his thoughts. These moments of weakness give the readers insight into just how badly Sebastion needs distractions from his life in order to feel okay.

Overall, I thought that book was excellent and I found Sebastion’s explosive reactions to normal situations fascinating. However, the ending was not up to par with the rest of it. The main character is slowly broken down until he snaps. His fury and pain take hundreds of pages to build up to but are dismissed in a fraction of that time. The desperate tone that the book works incredibly hard to create ends up being replaced with an optimistic ending that feels unrealistic and out of place. Despite its flaws in the final pages, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys internal conflict and complex protagonists. The book “Bang” successfully blends melancholic drama with horror to create a dread-filled story that is impossible to put down.