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Rage Is Back

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  475 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
A fearless novel about the price of revenge from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Go the F*** to Sleep

Kilroy Dondi Vance is an eighteen-year-old mixed-race Brooklynite who deals pot and goes to prep school on scholarship, all while growing up in the shadow of his absentee father, Billy Rage, a legendary graffiti writer who disappeared from New York City in 1989
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 10th 2013 by Viking
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Bennett Gavrish
Jan 16, 2013 Bennett Gavrish rated it it was amazing
(Note: Viking Press provided me with a copy of Rage Is Back for the purpose of this review.)

Grade: A-

L/C Ratio: 60% Literary / 40% Commercial

Thematic Breakdown:
30% - Graffiti
25% - Family drama
15% - New York City
15% - Humor
10% - Drugs
4% - Race
1% - Sci-Fi

Addictiveness: High
Movie Potential: 1 Thumb Up
Re-readability: Medium

The strength of Adam Mansbach's new novel is its narrator, Dondi Vance. He's half-white, half-black, part drug-dealing gangster, and part preppy schoolboy. But most importantly,
Feb 12, 2016 Bandit rated it liked it
I've been reading a good amount of Mansbach lately, this is the third book in a week. In his other one, The End of Jews, he touched down on the world of graffiti writers, in this one he's landed smack down on the subject. This is sort of a love letter to the old school days of NY, when apparently it had character. Personally I didn't care for it then or now and character in this sort of reminiscences usually implies grime and, in this case vandalism, but there it is. A world of hip hop, spray ca ...more
Dec 16, 2012 Valentina rated it it was amazing
It’s not easy to describe a book like this one, because it really doesn’t fit into any formal categories. It’s a mix of comedy, urban attitude, and sharp sociological analysis. It really surprised me how much I enjoyed reading it, actually.
What makes this book so special is the narrator. His voice is wholly unique, and one that resonates from the very first sentence. Dondi, a young man born into the world of graffiti, is struggling to find his place. It could have turned into a melodrama, but th
Laura Zimmerman
Jan 13, 2013 Laura Zimmerman rated it really liked it
First things first: I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

Like several other readers who have reviewed Rage is Back, I had difficulty getting into it. The first few pages were rough for me, mostly because of the author's rhythm and voice, which I was unaccustomed to. I had to re-read some paragraphs more than once in order to understand and there was probably a lot I still didn't 'get'. Something made me want to keep reading, though, and before long I was swept into the story despite th
Jan 06, 2013 Henry rated it liked it
My review from LJ
Journal, 11/1/2012, Vol. 137 Issue 18, p62-62, 1/6p
In his intriguing novel, the author of the phenomenal best seller Go the F**k to Sleep tells the tale of Kilroy Dondi Vance, a biracial African American youth from Brooklyn who has the power to open a portal 24 hours into the future. He also has some interesting parents. His dad is Rage, a famous graffiti artist from the 80s who has been gone for almost 20 years, ever since a fellow artist died because of Metropolitan Transit A
Dec 26, 2012 Amber rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
When I first started this book, I was a bit skeptical about whether I would really enjoy it. I'm not into graffiti, or drugs, and I don't live in New York. Would I be able to connect with characters in a book that somewhat glorifies these things? On the first page, it took me a while to get into the groove of the writing style. It's written from a first person perspective that makes heavy use of slang and colloquialisms with which I wasn't very familiar. By the end of the first page though, I wa ...more
Feb 06, 2013 Oriana is currently reading it
I had pretty much dismissed this guy as a doofus after the idiotic Go the Fuck to Sleep took off like goddamn wildfire. But OMG how good does this book sound?? Plus check out this terrific & heartbreaking piece he wrote for the Awl about New York's "War on Graffiti" (which, duh, equals a war on brown people and poor people and the desperate fight for the control of public space). And this one for Salon, hilariously skewering the publishing industry and mocking himself on his author tour? Sol ...more
Kim Berkshire
Jan 17, 2015 Kim Berkshire rated it liked it
This book came into my possession accidentally and I ended up reading it because I like to venture outside my wheelhouse from time to time. Totally not my thing, with the glorification of drug use and vandalism and an entire cast of unapologetic potty mouths. My thoughts are a compilation of many other reviews.
Things that made me ‘’aggro’’:
1. the drug trip swerve AND drugging the MTA workers
2. despicable /unforgivable 9/11 reference
3. the underground demon
4. the day skipping portal
Things that
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to reading a novel based on the taggers in NYC the '80's. Traditional publishing has totally ignored these stories, so, I bought this after reading a sample.

Dondi Vance is the son of 2 graffiti bombers in the early 80's. His mother was one of the few women bombers, who would climb over fences and decorate the trains before they left the yard. It was a dicey business. Dondi's father was somewhat caught then disappeared for all of Dondi's childhood. He is Rage. And he's back
Ron Charles
Nov 11, 2013 Ron Charles rated it liked it
Shelves: novels-about-art
The name might not sound familiar, but you know Adam Mansbach’s work. He’s that guy who sold 9 gazillion copies of “Go the [expletive] to Sleep” and made every parent in America groan, “Why didn’t I write that?”

Yes, it was a fluke, but a very funny fluke that went viral among exhausted moms and dads and climbed up the Amazon bestseller list months before publication. The success of that profane children’s book (soon — somehow — to be a feature film from Fox 2000) brings him the kind of prominenc
Nicole Bonia
Jan 20, 2013 Nicole Bonia rated it it was amazing
Eighteen-year-old Kilroy Dondi Vance has pretty much messed up his young life at the beginning of Adam Mansbach’s Rage is Back. He’s been expelled from his elite prep school, broken up with his girlfriend and has been kicked out of his mother’s apartment. While couch surfing between selected friends, trying not to wear out his welcome, he begins to hear rumors that his father Billy Rage (a famed graffiti artist missing for sixteen years), has resurfaced, leaving underground tunnels awash in graf ...more
May 14, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing
This book is exciting. The writing is exciting! It's hysterical and strange is it breaks the fourth wall and it's irreverant and lovely. Really enjoying my journey through this.

OMG OMG OMG. This book is so fantastic. I'm in love. With everything ever.

It's a caper. Its language might get under some folks' skin. It's urban NYC graffiti culture and as such is not a gentle read. But it's incredibly written - kind of ridiculously intelligent and witty. Heartfelt, fascinating... I'm definitely going t
Jan 23, 2014 Fred rated it did not like it
To mark this book as 'Read' is a bit of a falsehood in the sense that I BEGAN reading it but simply could not muster the energy or attention to complete it. Upon reading the first few pages, my impression was that this author was cut from the Elmore Leonard/Walter Moseley bolt of cloth.
I love the work of both of those very skilled and accomplished writers.

Very quickly, however, the street slang became a distraction ("You feel me"?)that I was unable to overcome. Then the writing itself became, fo
May 27, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this tremendously, despite some of the flaws noted by others (dropped plotlines, various characters left with unfinished business, a barely-present villain, etc.). My hope and assumption here is that these elements will be explored in a sequel. The protagonist isn't terribly sympathetic or even likeable, but his voice is compelling and believable, despite the strange and unlikely turns that the plot takes.

Oddly enough, the book reminds me a little bit of War for the Oaks: urban fantas
Feb 17, 2013 Theresa rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
Even though I didn't understand half of what the narrator was talking about, I still think this book was amazing. His use of the graffiti-speak was impressive. I simply loved the narrator's voice-it was equal parts cynical and naive, and always funny (even during the bleak moments).
Christian Laforet
Jun 25, 2015 Christian Laforet rated it liked it
I wanted to love Rage is Back, I really did, and for the first quarter of the book I actually did love it. But, alas, there's just too many problems with the story to give it a higher rating.

The first problem with Rage is Back was the excessive padding. There are multiple examples of this throughout the book, but I'm gonna focus on the two biggest. 1) When protagonist Dondi's father (Rage) returns, he brings some exotic jungle drugs with him. Dondi decides to partake and what follows is over 15
Let's face it: I wanted to read Rage is Back because I laughed my ass off over Go the Fuck to Sleep. But let me tell you, Rage met and exceeded all my expectations.

Mansbach is one of those rare writers that can write convincingly in multiple dialects (think Irvine Welsh's Scots sounds or the Mississippian drawl of Faulkner). I could hear the voices of his characters as I read their dialogue. Rage is peopled by '80s-and-later-eras New York graff writers, b-boys, Rastas, Lower East Siders of every
Apr 17, 2014 Troy rated it really liked it
Save for a long chapter dealing with the particulars of a super-naturalistic jungle drug, this is a page turner if the following appeals to you:
-graffiti culture
-reminiscing about NYC in the 80s and 90s
-decent encapsulation by a narrator who proves himself VERY observant

There were quite a few layers in this, and they all were, for the most part, interesting and engaging. You loved some characters, you hated some, some you just tried to understand better. A great deal of research went into t
I fell a little more in love with Rage is Back on every page. Dondi Vance narrates the story, and he is the son of two infamous NYC graffiti artists. His father Billy Vance a.k.a. Rage has been out of the picture since Dondi was a baby. Rage skipped town after his best friend Amuse was killed by a cop with a vendetta for graffiti artists. Dondi's mother, Karen a.k.a. Wren 209, has kept up appearances since Rage left home, and now works as an editor for a publishing firm. Rage and Amuse were part ...more
John Luiz
Feb 23, 2013 John Luiz rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific book that offers a fascinating look inside the world of the graffiti artists. The author has an impressive breadth of knowledge of this world, along with hip-hop music, but unlike some authors (like Michael Chabon in Telegraph Avenue) that knowledge never seems to be show-offy, and always works in service of the story. I can't say I always fully understood all the urban slang, but I never felt too confused to follow the story and the funny, quick repartee that's exchanged betw ...more
Fitchburg Public Library
Mar 05, 2013 Fitchburg Public Library rated it really liked it
Precocious teenager Dondi Vance was born into underground New York City royalty, the son of legendary graffiti writers Wren-209 and Billy Rage. But on the night of his birth, his father's crew meets with tragedy when they tangle with transit cop Anastacio Bracken, and Rage goes missing for nearly twenty years. Now Rage is back from the hallucinatory rainforests of South America, just in time to challenge Bracken's bid for mayor and maybe rebuild his fractured relationship with Dondi.

While Dondi'
I really enjoyed this book. I don't know much about the history of graffiti and I've never been to New York, but this book introduced me to both in a really fun way. Dondi is such a great protagonist with a unique voice and ways of describing things in a way that made me laugh and stay connected to the story. At times, he seems way too cool, but at other times, he's vulnerable and honest and seems younger than he is. Dondi is a complex character with a complicated relationship with his parents. ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Peter rated it really liked it
I could have finished this in one day if I were so inclined. And I was... but forced myself to take this in bite-sized chunks to stretch out the enjoyment. Still didn't work. Guess I'll just read it again!

Dondi, the narrator, has the kind of fresh, crackling voice that immediately draws you in. He's haunted by the legacy of his absent father, and the impact he had on the New York graffiti scene. The best part is, even if you're not familiar with that scene and it's lingo, neither is Dondi. You'r
Jul 03, 2013 Lex rated it really liked it
It took a while to get into Rage is Back, partly because I was reading 4 other books at the same time and partly because the build up was so drawn out. Mansbach's descriptive writing, witty dialogue, and innovative narration saved the initial slow pace. It also helped that I lived in Brooklyn for a summer doing an Advertising internship. I was able to keep up with the pace and literally flashback to particular blocks that were name dropped. I haven't read writing like Mansbach in a long time and ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Neal rated it really liked it
My review from Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2013: In a show of literary multidexterity, the author of the best-selling faux children's book Go the F**k to Sleep has written a sassy, snarky homage to '80s-era graffiti artists and the city that was their canvas. Mansbach wields a jazzy, poetic voice (often in the second person, but it somehow works) in a druggy haze of a story full of heart and soul. Billy Rage is an infamous graffiti artist who's returned to New York--and the son he ab ...more
May 27, 2013 Robin rated it it was amazing
When I found out the "Go the F##ck to Sleep" guy wrote other books I was all over it.
Hmmm. Graffiti, drugs and NYC? Bring it on!
This book was GREAT. Reminded me a teeny but of Tom Robbins.
I inhaled "Rage is Back".

"The irony of taking care of a father who'd never taken care of me is obvious I'm loathe to dwell on it. When you're responsible for somebody with whom you got so much unresolved shit, you've either gotta find the strength to make each act a tiny gesture of forgiveness, or else spend
Alex Ness
Jan 23, 2013 Alex Ness rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: graffiti fans, 16-death ages, people looking for something different to try
Recommended to Alex by: Early copy from a book show
Great novel all around. Although i have an interest in graffiti and weird cultures, i think that a wide audience would find RAGE a fun fast paced read that might lead them to more journeys into the b-boy, writer culture that this book swims in.
RAGE is a tale of a boy, his father, graffiti, mood altering crazy rainforest drugs, street culture, and personal ideas of what the right thing to do is. There is also a nice fantastical element that doesn't get to far out there, it just adds a more fun t
David Bradley
Mar 18, 2013 David Bradley rated it really liked it
Thanks to First Reads and Viking for sending me an ARC of Rage is Back. I just posted a review of it on my blog, or you can read it below.

Author of the book with the funniest title I've seen in recent years (Go the F**k to Sleep), Adam Mansbach diverges from the pseudo-children's book genre with Rage is Back. Set in NYC and following Dondi Vance, the son of the best fictional graffiti artist in history, Billy Rage, Rage is Back tells a tumultuous tale of t
Jul 27, 2013 Frank rated it really liked it
I found this book I wouldn't have otherwise read on a best books of 2013 so far at the AV Club website. I read the first chapter and a half as an preview and was hooked on the first person narrator’s perspective. I bought the book and haven’t been disappointed with this quirky glimpse into NYC graffiti culture.

Kilroy Dondi Vance tells of growing up the mixed race son of graffiti artists Billy Rage and Wren 209. Rage's crew celebrate Dondi's 1987 birth by "bombing" trains in the Coney
Apr 30, 2013 gillian rated it it was ok
There's this kid who is the offspring of two graffiti artists in 1980's New York City. Dad disappeared after the local hated cop shot a fellow artist. Now Dad (Billy Rage) is back.

The things I liked:
It's refreshing to read a modern, urban perspective once in a while. It satisfies my need to read countless F bombs and it's a style so out of my realm of experience; I appreciate it. A story about graffiti with a little time travel thrown in and a big dose of tropical South American psychoactive d
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Adam Mansbach is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Go the Fuck to Sleep, which has been translated into 40 languages, and was Time Magazine's 2011 "Thing of the Year." The sequel, "You Have to Fucking Eat," was published in November and is also a New York Times bestseller.

Mansbach's 2013 novel, Rage is Back, was named a Best Book of the Year by NPR and the San Francisco Chronicle and
More about Adam Mansbach...

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