Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
The characters in Italian writer/illustrator Gipi's beautifully painted graphic novel may not be all that likable, but their struggle to make sense of adolescence through music comes across masterfully. Four friends have dreams of becoming rock stars: obnoxious and jaded Stefano, Nazi-obsessed Alex, long-suffering and worried Alberto and skinny, self-conscious Giuliano, whose father offers the boys use of the garage for practice and recording, on the condition that they stay out of trouble. Stefano's father gets the boys a contact with a record label executive, but before they can finish their demo, an amplifier blows, leading the foursome to commit theft. Stefano must decide whether or not to betray his friends in order to get a job with the record executive; it's a particularly powerful scene that echoes Christ's temptation (the two stand over an empty swimming pool rather than on a mountaintop). The visual style is jagged and rough, colors stray willfully outside the lines; the whole aesthetic suggests the uneasy tension that defines young adulthood. Ages 12-up. Agent: Anne Bouteloupe at Gallimard Jeunesse. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up-Guiliano's father lends the boy and his friends the use of a garage for band practice, on the condition that they stay out of trouble. Each teen has a difficult family situation-his parents are variously sick, missing, or emotionally absent-and uses the band to find a degree of freedom, both in the abandonment of performance, and in the cathartic process of songwriting. When an amplifier necessary for a demo recording is irreparable, Alex suggests liberating equipment from a church basement, and the four protagonists find themselves having to decide how much this band really means to them. The art is marvelously atmospheric, with finely chosen watercolors accentuating the loose, cartoony inks. Almost every page has a silent or an establishing panel that gives the sequences a sense of space and place and allows readers to find the emotional subtlety behind the rendered characters. This is an interestingly quiet and spacious work for a book that is ostensibly about making lots of noise in a small space. It is also quite moving, and quietly funny, although some may find the jokes about Nazism in bad taste. A charming and understated work, with careful craftsmanship that belies its scratchy figures and cartoon faces.-Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In a wash of melancholy watercolors and with a sense of inescapable anxiety in the line work, Italian writer-artist Gipi tells the story of four very different boys who want to make music. As they meet in the garage that nervous Giuliano's father has let them use, clashes occur, all finely rendered in simple sweeps of story and dialogue. When troublemaker Stefano gets them an honest-to-goodness opportunity with a record label, the group attempts an ill-advised theft of musical equipment, driving the story to a tense but ultimately hopeful end. Somber throughout, with powerful use of well-placed silent panels, the art is both unusual and evocative. The characters, often less than admirable as individuals, come together believably to display loyalty to one another and real joy in their music. With a strong indie sensibility, this book is a good choice for readers interested in edgy art and human drama. --Jesse Karp Copyright 2007 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(High School) When narrator Giuliano's dad allows him use of a vacant garage (conditional on good behavior), Giuliano and friends Stefano, Alberto, and Alex turn it into their band headquarters. Soon it is a stage for the boys' conflicting struggles and yearnings. Cynical front-man Stefano is both ruthless and strangely naive in his musical ambition; quiet Alberto is coming to terms with his father's recent brush with mortality; and Alex rebels against an oppressive home life by nurturing neo-Nazi fantasies. Tensions rise when a broken amp derails the boys' recording plans and leads them to a disastrous attempt at crime. The spare dialogue and intricate, saturated pen-and-watercolor-wash illustrations in this graphic novel capture each character's qualities and relationships with subtle grace. Equally vibrant, the setting (a mostly working-class seaside community) is conveyed in the vast bleakness of an urban skyline, the glowing beauty of a beach, the dark haven of the garage. The ultimate drawing-together of the four to overcome adversity is emotionally satisfying and believable -- an ode to new beginnings that avoids cliche with a few innovative twists. Sequences evoking the band's songs are primarily visual, depicted in long-view motion-filled panels and semi-abstract captions, providing a solid emotional grounding for this gritty French import. ""Garage Band Studies,"" an abbreviated collection of celebrated Italian artist Gipi's sketches, completes the book. Copryight 2007 of The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
In this Italian import, four dispossessed friends try to make a go of their band. Narrator Guiliano has a slightly dysfunctional home life (his father loves his prized hunting dogs more than his son), but also has a supportive girlfriend. Alex has a missing dad, an overprotective mother and an obsession with Hitler; Stefano, meanwhile, is obsessed with death and success; and, the final member of the band, Alberto, adores his father. Highly stylized art will either attract or repel readers; most of the boys appear slightly demonic, but the watercolor washes and awkwardly rendered bodies effectively convey their confused, directionless adolescence and paint a portrait of a decaying city and beautiful countryside at odds. A foray into crime causes the boys to lose their practice garage but ultimately teaches a lesson and makes their friendship stronger. The father-son subtexts never come fully to life, but between the art and what is unsaid, much tension is conveyed. Unlikely to have wide appeal, but perfect for flannel-wearing, guitar-playing guys who think there aren't any books for them. (sketches) (Graphic novel. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.