Growing up is hard, whoever you are — but odds are that no matter how hard your adolescent years were, they weren’t as hard as Pearl’s. Or should that be Ancco’s?
Precisely how autobiographical Bad Friends is seems to be a bit of an open question — the book (originally published in Korea in, if I’m not mistaken, 2012, and finally released in an authoritative English translation by Drawn+Quarterly just a few months ago) has all the character and authenticity of memoir, but I’m open to the possibility that certain incidents/elements may have been altered (and by that I mean “toned up” or “toned down”) for dramatic effect, logistical purposes in relation to narrative flow, etc. Still, whatever the case, and whatever the nature of Ancco’s choices, they indisputably work, and make for one of the more compelling, if disturbing, reads in a very long time.
Ancco’s protagonist/stand-in, Pearl, is…
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