Miles Morales: Spider-Man

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Miles Morales: Spider-Man

by Jason Reynolds

“So this was about you saving somebody, huh? Yeah, well, let me ask you something, Super Hero… Who’s gonna save you?” 

Synopsis:

Miles Morales is a normal 16 year old kid just trying to get through high school without getting expelled. Except, his high school is a boarding school for genius kids, and his spidey-sense is going a mile a minute throughout the day getting him in trouble with one of his teachers, and makes it hard to talk to the girl he really likes.

Miles grew up knowing his dad and uncle got into some shady stuff when they were his age. Although his dad got out, Miles is constantly worried that he’s going to end up like his Uncle Aaron, a screw up who doesn’t care what happens to the people around him.

Plagued by nightmares of his Uncle’s death, his own inadequacy and a fight he doesn’t remember being a part of, Miles struggles to find his true purpose in the gifts he’s been given. But when he realizes that one of his teachers just might be the reason his spidey-sense is freaking out, he has to decide who he wants to be: someone who just lives with the hand he’s been dealt, or someone who saves himself and changes his fate.

Review: (spoiler warning)

I’m a white girl who grew up in a white family that didn’t see colors of skin. My parents raised me to be respectful to everyone. I’ve lived in Southern California, Arizona, Kansas City and traveled all over the country. I’ve seen and interacted with so many different people, that I’ve never really recognized a difference between races. I was lucky that way.

Unfortunately, our country, the world even, still struggles with racism. It’s awful and disgusting that there are people who believe we aren’t all equal.  And in my generation, I wish it wasn’t still an issue. It’s wrong that there are still children who have to deal with racism in our world.

Though this book really did a good job with showing readers just how ugly violence, racism and hate can be, I wish the topic of racism had been approached in a different way. The whole idea of the villain being some monster/alien thing that was just heightening the men’s emotions about white superiority was an unrealistic way to deal with a real issue. It does a disservice to those who are trying to make a real change in the people’s views in our world.

One way it could have been handled was us getting to know the back story of the villain(s). I did notice the use of one family name for the teachers who were trying to get the kids in trouble. I wished that Jason Reynolds had played on this idea more, of one family line going back for generations in that area who had perpetuated the problem. It would have been a great contrast to Miles’s inner conflict about his own family history and wanting to break the chain that his Uncle had not been able to. Though, maybe that would be a little heavy/real for younger readers, so I get the sci-fi aspect I guess.

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Also, the ending was a little off-putting. We had already seen Miles test Mr. Camberlain on his respect level and that he seemed to be much better than before, with no rude comments or disrespect. Then all of the sudden because of his refusal to let Miles sit in a chair and not on the floor next to the desk that he had broken means that he’s racist again. Really didn’t understand that part at all. It would have gotten the point across better if Camberlain had made a comment or given a look like he had before about the issue. Sorry, I’m a substitute teacher and if a kid had broken their desk like that in my class, they would have had consequences too, maybe not sitting on the floor, but still. Besides, if Camberlain forgot about his own rude behavior from the previous weeks, wouldn’t he have forgotten about what caused the desk incident and replaced the desk already? Just pointing out a few inconsistencies…

(now ya’ll are rolling your eyes and shaking your head at me aren’t ya?)

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However, even with all those issues, I thought that this book was very well written. The descriptions of the neighborhoods, the schools, and the personalities were all so detailed! I especially loved Miles’s character development. This was a unique look at a hero, I think, in that he had already seen/done the bad things he could do. And while he chose not to do them, he was still terrified he would become the villain. He was a true hero, not just because he wasn’t facing an evil bad guy, but because he was facing himself and finding out who he really was on the inside.

Now I really want to go re-watch “Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse”…

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Age Group: 14+

To parents/teachers: I would suggest reading the whole book with younger readers or to talk about the issues before they start reading and encourage them to come to you with concerns.

To younger readers: It’s a great idea to talk with adults, older siblings, friends and your teachers about what you read in this book and how you feel about it. Even I talked with my mom about it and I’m old!

Content Concerns: Racism, self-esteem, violence, honesty, integrity

Language: 2/10 Some crude phrases, but not many worth mentioning. Some language, but all PG rated. I didn’t put down the pages that deal with racism or racist comments, because the book’s main idea is about the issue of racism. Pinpointing certain moments of it just seemed like I was trivializing the larger issue.

H**l p. 6, 41, 42, 180, 250

A*s p. 32, 41, 42

Lord’s name in vain p. 195, 249

p. 25 Mention of pubic hair in reference to someone’s age. Crude, but not sexual.

Violence/Gore: 4/10 A little descriptive with the violence, but it’s more the underlying feeling behind it that caused the rating to go up.

p. 12 Death of a character and that character trying to kill another (mild)

p. 30-33 Character fights with a group of other kids

p. 46-48 Character has a nightmare and in it they are fighting (moderate)

p. 50 Full description of character death mentioned on page 12 (moderate)

p. 62 Slight mention of people who are going through withdrawal from drugs.

p. 126-127 Character fights with someone who has stolen shoes from a kid. Bit descriptive but they stops themselves right before can kill the other character.

p. 239-248 Main fight with villain. Involves stabbing, punching, and beating characters. Bit descriptive at the end when the villain dies (not by the hero’s hand, but he played a part in it).

Sexual Content: 0/10 Nothing really. There is talk of two characters liking each other.

 

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