I absolutely love Spider-Man and was excited to hear there would be a YA retelling but not an actual origin story. I was the first to borrow this audio from my library and couldn’t wait to start. It started out strong but it quickly went downhill. I mean, full on tumble down the hill with no way to save it. I’ll explain why, but know I was very disappointed with what I read.
Short Recap: Miles Morales, a 16 year old boy from the Brooklyn, is Spider-Man. He tries very hard to be normal with normal teenage boy problems with school and girls. Things get really out of hand when Miles is suspended from school for acting up. He thinks his superpowers are on the fritz or on their way out. Can Miles figure out what is going on?
This story really had so much potential but I feel it felt so short. I’m almost struggling where to start as I have so many thoughts about what I read. Let’s start with the characters. I enjoyed the story starting out with a little of Miles’ background but it was not the entire origin story of how he got his powers. Enough info was given for me to know it is the same as previous stories/movies/comics. I was happy to hear that Miles was biracial and grew up with loving, attentive parents. He was taught to be good and his family struggled daily to keep him from a life of crime. That being said, I never felt like I got to know anything of substance about Miles. I knew he was smart, on scholarship to a fancy school, and was Spider-Man. That. Was. It. There was so little actual Spider-Man in the entire story. Reynolds could have taken all of that storyline out and this still could have read the same. It made Miles feel rather underdeveloped. Miles’ best friend, Ganke, felt annoying, as if he was there for comic relief and someone Miles could confide in. The second part should be the stronger part as Ganke knew Miles’ secret, but since that was not a large part of this story, it felt like he just tried to push Miles’ out of his comfort zone. I guess that could be a good thing but it made Ganke’s character come across as an annoying gnat.
Do not get me started on that weak ass villain either. What in the actual was that?! It felt like he was thrown in as an afterthought so Spider-Man would have someone to fight. Nothing was explained. I still don’t know who he was, why he was causing trouble, what his end goal was. Call me crazy but in order for me to believe the bad guy is a villain, I need to know these things. He felt thrown in and the battle scene between the two was rushed and underdeveloped. It made for a very unsatisfying ending, that’s for sure.
The writing style itself started out really strong. Reynolds can weave a story, I will not ever argue that, but this story as a whole read like a Middle Grade story. I would not have classified or categorized this as a YA because it certainly did not have that feel. The storyline felt weak and juvenile. Reynolds had a golden opportunity to explore some important issues but he never took that chance. He could have touched on racial and social struggles but that just did not happen. Instead he focused on a 16 year old boy who has a crush on a girl that smells like Sandalwood.
I have read other Reynolds’ stories and truly enjoyed the powerhouse that is his writing. This story just fell incredibly flat for me. I am thankful this was a quick read. It was easy to get through but it was not enjoyable. I feel Reynolds had the chance to make Miles a truly incredible complex superhero but it never happened. I held out hope but it never happened. What a disappointment and wasted opportunities.