Miles Morales: Spider-Man - Jason Reynolds

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.

There is a LOT at stake for Miles in this new and brilliant novel from the incomparable Jason Reynolds. I'm a Spider-Man fan, though not as much of an expert or superfan as some. That being said, I think this is a really awesome addition to the various Spidey lore out there in the world, and with Reynolds at the helm, I think it has a chance of becoming so much more, and will hopefully bring about the rise of more non-white superheroes in the near future!

I love how Reynolds manages to really get inside the head of his protagonists, and this is no exception. Miles is a is a very realistic young guy, worried and obsessed, trying to be mature but always falling into one bit of trouble or another. Add to that the superhero sub-plot, you've got a recipe for disaster AND heroics. Nic Stone, author of the upcoming YA novel Dear Martin, has this to say (I'm quoting it here because she says it so well!):
Miles Morales, in addition to the pressure of an un-ignorable spidey-sense that alerts him to people in danger (people he struggles to resist the compulsion to save), also has to deal with things like racism, relative poverty, being one of only a handful of black kids in an elite private school, keeping his grades up so he doesn't lose his scholarship, not succumbing to the pull of the streets when the financial going gets really tough, watching as people from his neighborhood DO succumb.
Miles is a fabulous story of a very real boy trying to do the right thing, but realizing that might not be the same thing for everyone. All of the characters (friends, family, the freakin' villain!) are fully fleshed out, totally lifelike. The narrative, to me, has a few slightly lagging moments in the beginning, but the whole thing comes together and Reynolds steers it all to an incredibly satisfying conclusion. This is a story for all young people regardless of gender, race, sexuality, or class. But it's also a necessary story, and one that will reflect the experiences of a number of underrepresented readers.

Highly Recommended

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