Bang Reviews

Junior Library Guild medalA Selection of the Junior Library Guild!

An Amazon Pick for Best YA Novel of Spring 2017!

An Amazon Pick for Best YA Book of April 2017!

Shelf Awareness, April 28, 2017 — Starred review

Lyga shifts among variations on guilt, healing, gun violence and Islamophobia with ease as Sebastian struggles to cope with his complicated life. Though YA stories often absent parents from the action, Sebastian’s relationships with his estranged father and irreparably damaged mother grant an extra layer of reality. Painfully raw and accented with hope and anguish, Bang will connect solidly with older teens looking for a deep and affecting story.

Read the entire review on Shelf Awareness.

School Library Journal, February 1, 2017 — Starred review

Lyga (I Hunt Killers) tackles a number of relevant issues in this heartbreaking novel, including gun control, suicide, and religious and racial prejudice. The pain and anguish Sebastian feels every day are raw and chafing, and the chemistry between Sebastian and Aneesa is tender and realistic. With a number of sensitive issues addressed, along with frequent graphic language, this book may be best for a mature audience, who will fully appreciate the unwavering and stark realism. VERDICT A must-have for all libraries serving teens.

Read the entire review at SLJ.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2017 — Starred review

Rich characterization anchors this explosive novel, from white Sebastian’s likable, brainy, but at-times acerbic intensity to Aneesa’s upbeat, intelligent kindness. Aneesa is Muslim—her dad is Turkish-American—and she and Sebastian discuss everything from Islamophobia to their families to how to turn his pizza-making hobby into a YouTube Channel. If such details as Sebastian’s love of all types of antiquated pop culture seem odd to some teens, they are rooted in his deep desire to turn time back, and there will be others who appreciate these genuine quirks. Regardless, readers will root for him to find some sort of peace.

Heartbreaking and brutally compelling.

Read the entire review at Kirkus.

Publishers Weekly, February 27, 2017 — Starred review

…agonized and primal feelings…are essential to this gripping story…. It’s a raw exploration of persistent social stigmas, a beautiful study of forgiveness, and an unflinching portrait of a parent’s worst nightmare.

Read the entire review at Publishers Weekly.

The New York Times Book Review, April 16, 2017

Lyga captures the heartbreak of Sebastian’s situation with sensitivity and compassion, exploring how a life can be unfairly defined by just one action, how it’s tragically easy to ignore humanity in favor of a headline, and just what communication, love and sharing the truth can do, especially when it comes to forgiving oneself.

Read the entire review at the New York Times.

Entertainment Weekly, April 18, 2017

Lyga masterfully takes readers into Sebastian’s tortured mindset, while also illustrating his ability to compartmentalize the pain he’s experiencing, as well as his nascent crush on his newest friend who doesn’t know the grim particulars of his past…. Fans of 13 Reasons Why will find a lot to like in Lyga’s latest — especially as his exploration of grief and tragedy fits in with how the recent Netflix series unpacks its own themes. Affecting, and unfortunately timely, Bang is a read that’s worth your inevitable heartbreak.

Read the entire review in Entertainment Weekly.

iBooks — Top 25 Books of April 2017

This grippingly honest YA novel centers around a teenager tormented by a split second that ruptures his family. When we meet Sebastian Cody, his everyday life is shrouded in darkness, but once he meets a young woman who sees his wounded humanity and refuses to look away, light begins to enter his life. Bringing together smart humor, of-the-moment social issues, delicious pizza, viral-video celebrity, and an unforgettable protagonist, Bang is a no-nonsense look at one young man’s triumph over his demons.

Entertainment Weekly — “April 2017: 13 Most Anticipated Books”

14-year-old Sebastian Cody reckons with dark thoughts and darker memories from his childhood after having accidentally shot his infant sister at age 4. Lyga’s novel is a heartbreaker.

Teen Reads — April 28, 2017

…one of the most gripping and unexpected twists I have ever read in any book. BANG is a difficult read, for its heavy emotions and painful storyline, but it is an important one, particularly now, as gun control is becoming one of the most discussed issues in America. However, BANG is not an “issue book,” or one that reads like an after school special. Instead, it is a vivid and unflinching look at the powers of memory, guilt and acceptance and it will enrich any reader’s life — just be prepared for the book hangover.

Read the entire review at

Booklist, January 5, 2017

Lyga manages his intensely emotional material well, creating in Sebastian a highly empathetic character….the psychology that drives his decisions is acutely observed, and his story is highly memorable.

Read the entire review at Booklist.

VOYA, April 4, 2017

Bang draws readers in from the first page and holds them captive. The varied structure, authentic teen thoughts and reactions, and Sebastian’s dark inner voice set the pace and deftly disclose layers of truth throughout the book. Although the story is heartrending and raw, most readers will laugh as well as cry. As with previous titles, Lyga excels at helping readers step into an outsider’s shoes, and many will connect with Sebastian’s social awkwardness and struggles. Readers see relatable teens navigating life and death, love and friendship, stigma and belonging, and having fun. Messages about timely topics like gun control, Orwell, and Islamophobia occur naturally, not didactically, in the novel. While some pieces wrap up too neatly, readers know Sebastian will always be shaped by what happened. They are, however, left with a glimmer of hope that his life might not be completely engulfed by the tragedy.