Cover Image: The Stereotypical Freaks

The Stereotypical Freaks

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Member Reviews

"Life after eighteen sucks"... Dennis Leary once said, and I'd amend that slightly to also include " life before eighteen as well".
The story takes place in a typical High School (East Slade), where everyone is stereotyped in their roles and personalities. Dan (a geek)  and Tom (a smart kid) are best friends and a part of their two-member basement band. When a Battle of the Bands is announced at school Dan want to take part, but Tom doesn't because they don't have a lead guitarist and a drummer. This is where the other characters are introduced, Marcel "Mark", a football star and Jacoby (a weird foreign exchange student). Together they make a band called "The Stereotypical Freaks". Because they are stereotyped at school and freaks because they are not what their labels dictate.
                                                                        "These labels don't define us"
When one of the members reveals a life-changing secret, winning the competition takes on a whole new meaning.
I LOVED the book. It was a normal life comic about four teenagers who are sensitive and are not afraid to show it. When I started to read this book, I thought it would be a fun quick read. I was wrong. I was happy everyone got what they wanted at the end, but it was an emotional journey, for the characters in the book as well as the readers. It was a different kind of comic than I usually read, but it was exceptional in its own way.
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I initially picked this title to read because friendship themed graphic novels are very popular with my middle school students (Invisible Emmy, Smile/Sisters, Real Friends, etc.).  While friendship is a strong theme in this novel, it gets overwhelmed quickly when the subject of childhood illness and mortality is introduced.  This makes the book heavier than it would appear from the cover, but not less appealing.  Just different.
I really like that each chapter has a recommended playlist, but most of my students will be unfamiliar with the majority of the songs/artists.  Bob Dylan, Soul Asylum, Rush, the Who, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, The Ramones, Green Day, and the Beatles are all mentioned.  
The illustrations are well done, though I do wish they were in color.
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A nice story about a group of teenagers forming a close knit friendship over a shared love for music. The story has a touching emotional thread throughout the second half which begs the question 'What is really important in life?'. The story is mostly well paced and the art is simple but effective. Each chapter starts with a few recommended music tracks to listen to, which I thought was a very nice touch! Well worth reading.
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This story was sweet and beautifully written! I enjoyed that it dealt with hard topics but also had the fun spirit of a graphic band novel I was looking for. It was quick, but the design was absolutely beautiful— and the message is perfect for youths dealing with difficult topics and adjusting socially. Other added bonus: the song recommendations for each chapter! Well done!
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Actual Rating: 3.5 stars!

A music graphic novel! This is a first for me, and it didn’t disappoint. This is my third read from Animal Media Group and Howard Shapiro, and it really messed with me emotionally— although I don’t know what I expected, because I had a feeling something bad was going to happen to one of our main characters. No spoilers. Let’s dive in.

The Stereotypical Freaks follows the (mis)adventures of four high school boys teaming up despite their differences to compete in a Battle of the Bands. The sole thing they all have in common is music— otherwise, they’re a nerd, an outcast, an athlete, and a new kid in town. They’re headed up by Tom, the aforementioned nerd, who has an affinity for power rock and is also the main character of a few other Howard Shapiro novels. He decides to enter the Battle of the Bands with his best friend (the outcast) and later two others. At first, his motivations for joining the competition are to win over the girl he likes, but this story becomes about so much more than impressing a girl.

I’d actually say it’s more of a found-family story? I’m a sucker for fiction about bands, maybe because I’m a musician myself or maybe just because there’s something about creating art with other people that creates a really strong sense of brotherhood. Each of the four guys was dealing with their own stuff, and there was appropriate narrative weight given to each of the characters— although Tom was our main character, and that was accessible and clear. The drummer, Jacoby, ends up becoming very important in the third act of the story. That’s around when the themes start hitting heavier.

Because this is a story about uniting with people who aren’t just like you for a common purpose. It’s a story about finding people in high school, which is a confusing and often socially hellish time, especially for people who aren’t super popular (that’s ¾ of the band, if we’re keeping tabs). They play music, laugh together, and support each other. I was in a band in high school too, and though we weren’t as prolific, we had to work together, and those things rang realistically for me in the content of this story.

This graphic novel is entirely in black and white, or at least the e-version I downloaded was. I wasn’t sure about that at first, but I actually ended up really enjoying the art style. The story is aesthetically pleasing, and the lack of color makes for a nice down-to-Earth, rock and roll feel. The best pages by far in the story are those when we see the band playing, usually without any dialogue. There are music staffs and notes incorporated into the drawings, and the guys always look so happy. There’s this one shot as they’re walking to the stage at the Battle of the Bands where they kind of look like astronauts getting ready to board the shuttle. I literally said “wow, this is cool” out loud.

So, yeah. The Stereotypical Freaks won my heart. But also kind of broke my heart, because of the nature of the ending. Be prepared for a heartfelt story about friends, but also maybe be prepared to cry. It’s hard to deal with tough issues well, and Jacoby has a lot going on— which is heavy on the plot, but needs to be treated as such. He’s a blessing and I love him. End scene.
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The friendship the boys forged was uniquely depicted and painfully sincere, despite their differences music brought them together. Jacoby's storyline was the one that truly tugged at my heart strings; Shapiro once again delivers a great read, one that would work well for yound adults, with an excellent choice of music that covers the range of emotions the reader goes through whilst reading this graphic novel.
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This book was really good! I cried at the end ;-;;;;

I liked the love-hate relationship with Jaelithe (i THINK thats how its spelled) and Tom. But I really didn't expect to cry.
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Unfortunately I didn't enjoy this as much as I was hoping. The story and the art style have potential but it was so difficult to read without colour. I've seen light and shade used with great success in black and white graphic novels, but there just wasn't much of that success here. Ultimately I was left with some eye strain and vague irritation, and I wish it had been easier to read.
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This was a fun graphic novel. Probably best for young teens or middle grade readers. I loved the art style.
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Book Review
Title: The Stereotypical Freaks (Forever Friends Trilogy #1)
Author: Howard Shapiro
Genre: Graphic Novel
Rating: *****
Review: The opening to the Stereotypical Freaks was great, we are introduced to Tom, Dan and their other friends who are all into music and are part of a band. Tom’s favourite songs are Bara O’Riley and Ruby SoHo which are both amazing songs. Tom has a major crush on Jaelithe but given this graphic novel is set in high school she obviously end sup dating more on her social level which isn’t Tom. 
As we approach the ¼ mark in the story, Dan suggests entering Battle of the Bands, but Tom points out that they are two men short of a band as they don’t have a drummer or lead guitarist. However, Dan says he knows of someone who plays the drums, his name is Jacoby a foreign exchange student, but even then, Tom is hesitant about doing it but goes with the flow for now. I really liked the facts that at the beginning of each chapter it recommends some songs you should listen to and all of them are amazing. Tom despite being a smart boy and a good hockey player decides to tutor another student who just happens to be his old best friend and star football play Mark or Marcell as he used to be called. While the interaction is strange it is nice to see that Marcell hasn’t forgotten they used to be friends and acted like a typical jerk towards him, a very refreshing take.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the story, Tom has signed up for the battle of the bands but only because Jaelithe’s current boyfriend’s band has signed up, but they still have the problem of finding a lead guitarist and a drummer, but this is soon resolved when Jacoby and Marcell agree to practice with them. 
As we approach the halfway mark in the story, circumstances allow the four boys; Dan, Tom, Marcell/Mark and Jacoby to become a band but working out a practice schedule with the competition only three months away is proving to be a little hard. This is due to Jacoby’s medical treatments but only Tom knows about this so far, coupled with school, after school groups and practices none of the boys have much free time but I have a feeling it is going to work very well.
As we cross into the second half of the story, the boys decide to name their band the stereotypical freaks which suits them as they all fit a specific stereotype. However, we also learn the true nature of Jacoby’s illness and I wasn’t expecting it and it damn near killed me, but the band is something he enjoys and something he wants to do despite what he is living with.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the story, this story is turning out to be much deeper and darker than I first thought, and I was loving it. It tackles many things like being different whether that is race or religion. It also tackles bullying, peer pressure, living with terminal illness, coming from a broken home and so much more. Despite being a graphic novel about boys in a band it is so much more than that and it is so relatable.
As we cross into the final section of the story, the battle of the bands has arrived. The boys as expected performed very well but things take a dramatic turn after the end of the competition. I would highly recommend the Stereotypical Freaks and will be jumping straight into The Hockey Saint very soon.
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This was quite well done. I enjoyed the graphics of this book. Looking forward to reading more from this author.
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I've been devouring graphic novels like crazy in the last few months. 
This one was short but sweet. Interesting story and quite emotional but I really disliked art style and couldn't get used to it so I couldn't give it 5 stars
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This was a very quiet and sweet coming of age story about friendship. I really liked it. The art was simple, but excellent. And the story really sneaked up on me, and touched my cold, dark heart. Would especially recommend this to teen boys (you know, who it's written for) because it features an MC who is very in touch with his feelings and being honest with his friends, and we need more of that in Kidlit, and in life.
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The Stereotypical Freaks follows four high school seniors as they form a band and compete in their school’s battle of the bands.
I think it’s advertised as a lighter graphic novel about friendship and music, but we really delve into some deeper things with one of the bandmates. I read this in about an hour and I will admit I got some tears on my pillow. It was so sad! But I also felt really touched by it.
Some complaints I have that could have bumped it up a star were the dialogue felt really juvenile. These characters are supposed to be seniors in high school, yet they spoke as if they were in middle school. I found that really unrealistic and kind of annoying but seeing as this is the first graphic novel in a trilogy, I’m hoping to see them mature throughout.
All in all, it was a quick and rather enjoyable read! I will definitely pick up the other two as I feel invested in the character’s lives now.
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This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher. It was another 'read now' offering from Net Galley, and while some of those really are gems that ought to be more widely read, too many of them are like this one unfortunately was - not really that interesting.

This seems to be the start of a series which features different characters in life-affirming stories, full of bon-mots and optimism. That's fine, but along with that, there really needs to be a story that draws a reader in and in this case, there was not. Set in high-school, in the senior year, this is the story of four guys who get together in a band. The problem was that there didn't seem to be any real reason why these guys would get together.

The worst part of this though for me, was that once again we had a story of young guys whose taste in music is curiously exactly the same as the older author's taste! I've seen this time and time again in novels and it really kicks the reader out of suspension of disbelief because there's no reason that we're offered for why these kids would like music which is so far from their peers.

Much of the music (at least those songs I looked up) was from decades ago, and it wasn't what I would describe as 'rock 'n' roll, although some of it was. If you want your young character to like it, fine, but you really need to supply a good reason as to why they stray so far from the norms for their age group.

There may well have been more recent music that I didn't take note of, and there are, without a doubt, kids who like music from earlier periods, but usually there's a good reason for that. Maybe there was in this story, too, but none was offered to the reader, so why these kids were together and why they all seemed to like this same 'antique' music was a complete mystery, the only explanation for which is that the author was writing what he knows and including his favorite music without giving any thought or regard to whether it would really be the music of choice for these particular high-school kids.

I didn't really like any of the characters. The author, who I understand does a lot of work raising money for hockey charities, a sport he's evidently very such into, did not flesh out any of them. They seemed, ironically, very much like Joe Pekar's artwork - sketchy and unfinished. The art was black and white line drawings, and some of it was so faint in my ARC electronic copy that it looked like it was only partially done: an initial sketch which never got fleshed out. Like I said, it was an ARC, so it may well have been unfinished, but I can only judge on what I see, not on some future promise, so I can't recommend this graphic novel for the artwork, either! The drawings were OK, but nothing special.

Although the author says, in an interview I read, that he doesn't like to write predictable stories, this one was very much predictable all the way down the line, including the ending. I didn't like the way the characters were pigeon-holed. We're told that the name of the band came from the characters being stereotyped by their peers in school, but this didn't have a ring of truth to it. For example, the 'smart kid's did not appear particularly smart. And how would he be stereotyped as a 'smart kid'? I don't think 'smart kid' is the term anyone abusing him would choose!

By that same token, the 'geek' was not particularly a geek and would more likely have been pigeon-holed for his weight or appearance than for being a geek. The 'star athlete' was a dick who let one of his jock friends - a stereotypical bigot - be truly mean and abusive to his bandmates without offering a word in their support or their defense. And what's with naming a sick kid a weirdo? He wasn't weird at all - just quiet. High-school being what it is, he would more likely have been abused for his ethnicity, which was Inuit, than for being weird or quiet. So in short, all of this seemed fake and false, like it was no more than an attempt to cover all demographics.

Overall I did not like this story. It felt inauthentic throughout, and it was stuck in a very traditional rut, so it did not appeal to me at all. I wish the author every success in his endeavors, particularly in his charity ventures, but I cannot in good faith recommend this effort.
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love love comics. Theres something unique about the way they tell stories. The Stereotypical Freaks was a wonderful read. Most comics I read about heroes or sci-fi but this story as different. It's about friendships; four friends in a band to be exact. It also deal with cliques and high school BS. I love it! Seriously this story totally blew me away.
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Great for kids who love to read comic books but maybe gobbled up too much superhero stuff. Or, a way to get kids to read when they would rather not. They create a band to participate in battle of bands. The main character has a crush on a girl he views is unattainable.  

He rejoins with his old best friend from elementary school and the school's exchange student. Together they bond over creating music. It's light, relatable and kids will or probably have enjoyed it.

It's available for purchase :)
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Okay so this is simply amazing. It is definitely my top favourite graphic novels. Story is just heartwarming. I laughed and cried a lot while i was reading it. It is about friendship, music, choises we made and life. I love the song recommendations parts. Whatsername is my favorite song too.
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This book was not what I expected. I didn't like it all. The plot could have been better. The story could have been better. The graphics could have been. Overall I was looking for something more and this did not fit my expectations.
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I don't read a lot of graphic novels but I did not expect to feel so much emotion and I thoroughly enjoyed the artwork. I definitely recommend this book to literally anyone. It's really empowering and moving!
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