Miles Morales: Spider-man by Jason Reynolds (2017)

milesUltimate Author Jason Reynolds brings Ultimate Spider-man Miles Morales to novel form in a surprisingly complex superhero story.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages:   272 (for ISBN 9781484787489)

Genre(s) and keywords: science fiction, superheroes, diverse (Black, Latinx)

Tone/Style: urban, cool (There’s got to be a better word than “cool” but I don’t know what it is. This book just has a lot of swagger)

Pace: moderate

Topics: superheroesboarding school, crime, urban life, mixed-race families

Themes: (with great power comes great) responsibility, protecting others, familydefying a destructive family legacy

Summary: Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.

But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren’t meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad’s advice and focus on saving himself.As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can’t shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher’s lectures on the historical benefits of slavery and the importance of the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.It’s time for Miles to suit up. (Source

Who will like this book?: This book is slick. I feel like the coolness rubbed off on me while I was reading it. (It has since faded and I am back to dorkdom.) Teen readers should appreciate Reynolds’ firm grasp on the language and habits of kids their age. Marvel fans will of course want to jump on this. Readers looking for empowering characters of color will like it, too. You do not have to be familiar with Miles or the Marvel universe to enjoy this.

Who won’t like this book?: While there’s some action in here, it’s actually more about Miles dealing with his past, his family, and who he is going to become, so readers who aren’t into internal conflict should look elsewhere.

Other comments: How does Jason Reynolds write so well, so fast? HOW??

Note that this is not Miles’ origin story.

The characters and setting have an incredibly authentic feel. I love all the AAVE in this book. Reynolds puts the reader right into Miles’ world.

Miles’ uncle makes in appearance in the recent film Spider-man: Homecoming, hinting that Miles may be on his way to the Marvel cinematic universe.

Sequel(s): n/a

Readalikes: An obvious choice is the Miles Morales Spider-man comics. Miles was introduced as the replacement for Peter Parker in an alternate Marvel universe in which Parker dies. His first trade is Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol. 1. There is also an Ultimate Collection that combines the trades from this series into 3 large books. This more recent book is also a good jumping-on point. There have also been a lot of Marvel novels for middle grade and young adult readers coming out. Readers who like the tone and setting of the writing and don’t care whether superheroes are involved should try Jason Reynolds’ other books.

-Kylie Peters

Image credit: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32793053-miles-morales

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