Sunday, November 6, 2016

[ARC REVIEW] The Stereotypical Freaks by Howard Shapiro

Title:  The Stereotypical Freaks

Author:  Howard Shapiro

Artist: Joe Pekar

Genre:  Friendship / School / Drama / Illness / Music

Year Published: 2012

Year Read:  11/6/2016

Publisher: Animal Media Group 

Series: Forever Friends Trilogy #1

Source: eARC (NetGalley)

Content Rating:  Ages 13+ (Some Language)

I would like to thank NetGalley and Animal Media Group for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Now, Howard Shapiro’s graphic novel “The Stereotypical Freaks” has been around the comic book scene for years now, but I never had the chance to get around to reading it because of two reasons:

1.      I was too busy reading other books at the time.
2.      I was not interested in the book when it first came out.

However, when NetGalley recommended me this graphic novel, I decided to give this graphic novel a try and I was seriously surprised by the different genre that this graphic novel explored compared to most other graphic novels that I had read that were either adventure, action or fantasy genres and I was pleasantly surprised by the results of this unique graphic novel!

What is this story about?

Tom Leonard was your average high school senior who was pretty unpopular at his high school, his best friend Dan Roberts was considered a geek and he has a crush on a girl named Jaelithe, who does not even know he exists.  Fortunately, Tom is an extremely smart boy and he is a talented rocker in his basement band.  One day however, the school decides to hold a battle of the bands competition and even though Tom was reluctant at first to enter the contest, he eventually decides to enter the competition, along with Dan.  But, there is one problem:  Tom and Dan are the only members of their band and they need two more people to make their band complete.  So they ended up recruiting Mark Bennett (formerly known as Marcel), who was Tom’s childhood friend until Mark’s football career caused him to break off his friendship with Tom and a shy quiet boy named Jacoby Nukik, who is a foreign exchange student from Canada who seems to be hiding a big secret from the band.  Luckily, forming the band together caused the four boys to become fast friends and they decided to call their band “The Stereotypical Freaks!”  Later on however, when one of the boys reveals a big secret that could tear the band apart, the four friends now make it their ultimate goal to win the competition to fulfill one of their friends’ wishes.

What I loved about this story:

Howard Shapiro’s writing:  Wow!  Howard Shapiro’s writing was simply beautiful and emotional!  I never would have thought that I would read a graphic novel that was not focused on fantasy or action, but more focused on the developing friendships between the main characters and about how one school event brought them all together.  I loved the way that Howard Shapiro wrote each character, as they did not act according to their stereotypes (Tom the Genius, Dan the Geek, Mark the Jock and Jacoby the Quiet Guy) and their growing friendship to each other felt so natural as they had to go through some hurtles in their relationships to become close.  My two favorite characters were probably Tom and Jacoby as both characters tried to keep the group together despite the obstacles all of them had to face together.  I loved the fact that Tom gave Mark and Jacoby a chance to prove themselves to be a part of the group since it shows that he bears no ill will towards anyone, no matter what their ranking in school is.  I especially loved Jacoby as he is the quiet kid that I can relate to the most with since I was the quiet kid in high school; but once we learn about his tragic backstory, I really started to feel for his character and hope that he gets his wish fulfilled.  I also loved the fact that Howard Shapiro was able to write a graphic novel that was about the normal everyday life of a high school student, instead of writing about superheroes or fantasy characters as it gives this graphic novel a unique tone and it was nice reading a graphic novel that was mostly an ordinary high school series.

Joe Pekar’s artwork:  Joe Pekar’s artwork is gorgeous to look at as all the characters are drawn realistically and the black and white colorings of the artwork contribute greatly to the graphic novel’s mundane tone of the story.  I also like the way that Joe Pekar does the characters’ facial expressions as they greatly convey the different emotions that the characters go through such as happiness, anger and sadness.

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story:

The reason why I took off half a point from the rating was because I felt that the pacing of the story was a bit slow at some points and there were times where I was struggling with finishing the graphic novel because there was too much exposition on the dialogues that tend to slow down the story.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, “The Stereotypical Freaks” is a great story for anyone who wants to read about the true power of friendship and who wants to read a good old fashioned graphic novel about the trials of high school.

2013 Bookworm Best Award Nominee

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