Cover Image: The Stereotypical Freaks

The Stereotypical Freaks

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Member Reviews

The description initially given on NetGalley for this book I found slightly misleading, simply because when the phrase 'life altering news' is used I don't automatically assume it's a cancer diagnosis. Had I known that I wouldn't have requested the book because after A Monster Calls and (most of) A Fault in Our Stars (though both are good books) I had decided that novels centered around cancer just weren't what I wanted to read. I read for fun, and it just kind of depresses me.

As the story progressed I noticed a lot of 'life lessons' being thrown about (all under the general umbrella of 'make the most of life while you can'), it would have been hard not to notice them honestly, as they were all explicitly spelled out, sometimes more than once, leaving the reader nothing more to infer or figure out for themselves. This is something I'd expect for a graphic novel aimed at young readers but given the heavy subject matter I don't think I'd like the age group this level of reading was appropriate for reading this particular story. Especially since the only reason the band enters the competition is so the lead singer can impress his one true love - the most popular girl in school with a 'loser' boyfriend - which is an odd cliche to include in story about overcoming stereotypes?

This said I liked the music references in the story - even though I think I have a slightly different definition of 'rock' than the author.
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I picked this up as what sounded like a fun story but I ended up living it much more than I thought I might. What the story illustrates so well is the healing power of friendship and the healing power of music. It doesn't matter what you think you know about a person, it matters most how you can connect.
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Book – Stereotypical Freaks (Forever Friends Trilogy #1)
Author – Howard Shapiro
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 140
Cover – Great!
Would I read it again – Yes
Genre – Young Adult, Comic


Personally, this was a tough one to read, so I have to start off with...

** There may be spoilers ahead. **

I don't know if what I'm about to talk about is meant to be a spoiler or not, so I'm being extra careful. The story deals with child/teen cancer and I found this difficult to read, having been a teenager with cancer. However, I can say that the topic was handled with care, sensitivity and respect. The way it was spoken about, dealt with and placed into the story was so realistic and genuine that I cried. A few times.

Beyond that, I loved the biographical format within the POV, leading us through the information we needed to know at the start, while delving straight into the plot and letting us know who the cast were. I also really liked the 'recommended listening' though I'm not so familiar with most of the bands/songs included. I'm more of a Classic Rock gal, so I wasn't really up-to-speed with the offerings or the favourite songs mentioned by the characters.

There were some small editing issues, but they didn't impede the understanding of the story or interrupt the telling.

Overall, this was a great story with a beautiful message. It made me cry multiple times, I loved the characters and the explorations of them, as well as the 20 year later Epilogue. It was a really well put together story that I just know kids will love, along with some brilliant illustrations.
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Tom and Dan are in a band. A two man band. The only problem they have is that they need two more members to actually become a band. Can they find the members required and will the band survive?

The illustrative work in this book is really good. All the pages are in black & white, I think I would have preferred a bit of colour but that definitely didn't take away from the effort and time that had gone into the art. Especially Jacoby, details on this character were amazing.
This is a heartfelt tale of senior boys and just one of the things that no kid should have to deal with. The story is really touching and was definitely not what I expected when I went into it.

I'd recommend this book to adults and teens alike as it approaches a real life issue from an angle everyone can understand or relate to in some way.
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I am a reader through Netgalley. This book has a lot of promise, was well written and a fast read. It was not a happy go lucky ending, and that was unique. This book was poignant and makes one reflect on what is important in life, perspective on what you put importance on. The characters could have been given more depth, it was as if in some areas it was hinted at but not shown. Overall I enjoyed the book, and look forward to more from this author,      Strong and powerful message.
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Easily my favourite graphic novel so far this year. This little book is so much more than I expected in every way. 
The writing is simply beautiful, the story it tells is so easy to relate to, friends who have drifted apart as they grew older, the social caste system of school, the fear of putting yourself out there and so much more. The story of four teenage boys, the stereotypical freaks so to speak, who come together to form a band and end up forming a friendship that is so much more will tug at the heartstrings ,but will also tug your lips into a little grin now and then. Without spoiling the plot, the book has an emotional core that will break your heart in the best possible way. 
On to the artwork, at first I was a little underwhelmed by the deceptively simple, almost sketch like style of the illustrations, but I came to realise that they fit the tone of the book perfectly, and now I couldn't imagine it any other way. 
Finally the inclusion of a suggested play list is a touch of genius, and the next time I read this, and I know I will read it again, I will make sure to listen along. 
Overall I loved it and can't recommend it highly enough.
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I remember, when I requested The Stereotypical Freaks, thinking that it sounded really cool. Music has been essential to some tough time in my life, in a lot of people's lives I'm sure, and it brings the characters in this story together. 

There was just a lot lacking in the book that the music theme couldn't bring back up from down low, little things that added up to one big thing: I didn't care for the book as much as I thought I would.

The Bad

*The scene breaks that happened between chapters were jarring and didn't make sense, like two mini-chapters got jammed together accidentally.

*The characters didn't flesh out more than their, well, stereotypes. Granted we were given insight into what their characters ought to have been, like the "quiet weirdo" who just wants to experience as much life as possible before the end, but that's all these moments were: glimpses, brief interludes into what might have been.

*I was never really sure what kind of music the kids were playing, which seemed weird given how big a part that was supposed to play in their story. Was their style meant to be like the musical recommendations at the beginning of the chapters or not? No indication either way.

The Good

*At the beginning of each chapter there were musical recommendations that were fun to search out on Spotify. It gave a little life to the book.

*The art was a clean style that I liked, not too much fussiness.

*It was a fast, easy read.


There was a lot of potential for this to be fun, but I didn't get that sense from reading it. There are two more books in the series, but I don't think I'll be continuing on. As dull as I found it, I both don't really want to continue and I also felt like this story was done, so I'm fine with where I left things.
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I thought the characters were endearing, and thought the inclusion of a playlist clever and engaging.  The artwork was simplistic and didn't add to the storyline.
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While I'm sure this graphic novel will appeal to some, it personally wasn't for me. There was a lack of character for me. The plot itself felt like something that had been done many times before. I will say that if you like Archie you may like this as it has a similar vibe and likeness. 

A nice enough graphic novel, but not something to my own personal taste.
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This wasn't what I expected (I went in based on cover alone, didn't read the blurb). At first I related because Dan reminded me of a friend of mine in high school, but the story gained so much more depth as it went on. I enjoyed the interplay of the characters...

Minor annoyance...Marcell or Marcel? It flipped between both the entire time.
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I have mixed feelings about Steriotypical Freaks.  Looking at this graphic novel objectively, it is by no means perfect..  The art work is somewhat unpolished with a sketchy feel and the character's expressions are sometimes "off" in relation to the subject matter.  The storyline develops slowly.  Later, it is a bit forced in places, with the tragic hero "fixing" the problems in the other characters' lives.  

That said, this book transcends it's faults to reach into your heart and spirit.  In the beginning, the four primary protagonists seem very much in line with their stereotypes but as the story progresses, the reader is drawn in to see them as more realistic and relatable  young men instead.  Jacoby, in particular, become very real as page by page the physical changes he was undergoing were unmistakeable.  I was in tears by the final chapter.  

I would recommend this title to older middle school and up, including reluctant readers.  For teenage boys, a good change of pace from the more action-oriented graphic novels.
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Tom and Dan are friends who want to start a band to play in the battle of the bands at their high school. They consider themselves outcasts in school. When Tom starts tutoring his former friend, Mark, they ask him to join the band too. But then they need a drummer. Jacoby is the foreign exchange student from Canada, who is also an awesome drummer. They invite him to join, but he is distant at practices and doesn't seem to have much time to devote to the band. They name their band the Stereotypical Freaks, because they all fit stereotypes (nerd, goofball, star athlete, quiet foreign exchange student) but they don't fit in with the rest of the kids at school. However, when one of their band members reveals that he is dying of cancer, they have to decide if they still compete.

This graphic novel has a diverse set of characters. Mark is African American. Jacoby is an Inuit from Nunavut. This story shows one of the struggles that Inuit peoples face. Since Jacoby comes from such a small town, he has to move to Pittsburgh to get medical treatment for his cancer. I like that it brings some awareness to Inuit peoples of Canada.

I liked the style of art in this graphic novel. They are black and white sketches, rather than full colour pictures. This style fits with the indie band that the boys form.

I really liked this story and I'm excited to read the next graphic novel in the trilogy!

This review will be posted on my blog on May 5, 2017.
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Not really my style but I can see why people are entranced by the story.
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Free copy provided by Netgalley in return for an honest review

Publication Date: 14th November 2012
Review Date: 14th April 2017

Rating: 4.5 / 5

When I first came across the Forever Friends trilogy, it was in the second instalment, Hockey Saint, that I downloaded a while ago from Netgalley. I always planned to read it, but kept getting caught up with review deadlines for other words. I downloaded another book from Animal Media Group, and thoroughly enjoyed it. They kindly auto approved me on Netgalley, and I went to have a look through what they had. I found that this was a series, and decided to download it all and read it all in order.

I really enjoyed this. I love the high school graphic novel genre, so this was really fun to read. I loved the characters, and they all felt so real, especially Jacoby. The story line was sweet, overdone, perhaps, but I enjoyed it. It was the characters that made The Stereotypical Freaks so unique. It’s been a while since I read a comic with characters that have actual issues that can be really easily related back to real life. It’s been a while since a graphic novel like this has made me tear up, and this one did it quite a few times. 

Giving us recommended listening whilst reading each chapter was brilliant in my opinion. I read this twice, once with the music, once without, and with music was definitely better. It made me feel a lot more, and it was really great to read whilst listening to the recommended. I would definitely say, if you’re going to read this, definitely do it whilst listening to the extended music. 

I feel like this could have been better if the pages had been inked. The black and white uncoloured frames were hard to follow at times, and a lot of it blurred together for me, so some pages took quite a lot of time to get through, which I admit was a little annoying. It took me way too long to get through this and I would have gotten through it a lot better had the frames been easier to observe and go over. 

This was such a heart warming, and a heart breaking, story. I cried and laughed so much through this, I couldn’t believe it. The friendship in this graphic novel is just beautifully warming and it’s such a wonderful story to read. Jacoby is someone I aspire to be.

Half a rating knocked off for the issue of colouring that made the graphic novel a little harder to read.
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This turned out to be so good!  I was hooked, and could barely put it down.  I really enjoyed the realism and character development of how they all came together to face their biggest challenge - and I feel that any high schooler (or anyone who's been through high school!) can totally relate to at least one of the four main characters (the jock, the smart one, the geek, the shy outsider).  And I especially loved the "recommended listening" songs listed at the beginning of each chapter, even though I wasn't familiar with all of them and didn't track them down to listen along - I think played those songs would really add to the experience of reading this graphic novel!
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This is a relatively short book, though it's long for a single comic/graphic novel. It's pretty different to the other comics I've read - there is no epic fight scene, no caped vigilante. But there is a hero, and there is one epic battle.

The general plot involves four teenagers coming together to compete in a "Battle of the Bands" competition. Danny and Tom are good friends already, often jamming out together in Tom's garage. But they can't win a competition as just a duo - it's time to recruit new musicians.

The kids they find end up being Tom's childhood friend, Mark, and the strange new kid, Jacoby. They start forming a strong bond, until Danny voices his concerns about Mark and his different crew of friends. 

Jacoby eventually opens up to the band about his personal problems, too. They never would have guessed what incredible war he's been fighting in secret. But he's their friend, and they're more motivated than ever to practice hard and win the competition.

The art is pretty simplistic, without any colour. Each chapter features "Recommended Listening" which is a great touch for music fans. And I really like both the conflict between Mark's new 'popular' friends and the band, and the huge weight that Jacoby is carrying. The ending is bittersweet, realistic. But I did notice that the issue with Mark and his mates is not resolved, which is kind of annoying.

This is a really refreshing story, confronting an issue that is all too real for many young people. It doesn't sugarcoat it, but it doesn't make it sound like hell, either. It's just honest, and I think that's really good.

It does provoke some emotion which is fantastic, but I didn't feel much connection with the individual characters on the whole. And the plot is... meh. I like that it's about Jacoby's illness and him wanting to carry on despite it, but I also feel like it dominates the story a bit too much. Like, the illness has become his identity, taken over the whole story. It's good to focus on it, of course, but I'm not sure it should've been the only plot.

I think about 3.5 stars is appropriate for this. It's different, honest, and great for any music fans.
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I received this in exchange for an honest review, which has not altered my opinion of the story itself.

This amazing story just got me right in the feels!! I didn't expect from the title that there would be so many life lessons learned from the short graphic novel. Basically this is the story of four unlikely friends coming together to participate in a battle of the bands while overcoming personal issues at the same time.

The issues of terminal illness, dealing with high school drama, settling old grievances, overcoming fears in general, as well as family pressures are all addressed in this short story about friendship.  Five out of five!! Go read now!!
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Having recently (4 months ago) went through the experience of my daughter dying unexpectedly and abruptly, this was a surprising read and not at all what I was looking for when I downloaded it. Regardless, I did enjoy the read. I was not expecting the story line to turn the way it did. It seems normal enough, the cliques in high school that divided long ago friends, the group of "misfits" that forms from choices and situations. This was about 4 teen boys that learned a pretty heavy lesson their senior year of high school. When they started the year, they were on separate paths, each thinking about what the year would hold. Opportunity and chance threw them together. Over the course of their senior year journey, they each learned something about themselves that only a death can teach you. I would recommend this as a must read for pre-teens/teens when they start to try and figure out who they are. The characters are easy to identify with since each of their personal situations reflects common things kids experience, for the most part. I probably have a different view and emotional effect than others since I am going through my own unexpected tragedy but, I am happy to see that someone isn't afraid to approach the tough topics. The ones that leave unpleasant feelings and so we shield our children from them. Excellent read. We should use this as an example of how to show our children that not everything is rainbows and roses. It isn't so overwhelming that it would traumatize a person but it gets to the point in a gentle way. On another note, I do love the playlist suggestions at the beginning of each chapter. It helps to get the right feeling, in my opinion.
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I loved it.  The story was beautifully presented and the plot unique for a graphic novel. I would recommend it to everyone. The book was a bit short but you emerge better for reading it.
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