Miles Morales: Spider-Man

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Miles Morales: Spider-Man Book Poster Image
Exciting, smart, cool version of comic book superhero teen.

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Introduces the connection between slavery, the 13th Amendment, and the so-called prison industrial complex (the rapid expansion of the inmate population and privately owned for-profit prisons) in relatable terms for teens, with an added sci-fi twist.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about loyalty, friendship, responsibility, and breaking generational curses. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Miles actively works to find and claim his place in a world where people are always telling him he doesn't belong. He's committed to doing the right thing, even when it costs him personally. Miles' dad and mom show their support and care by trusting Miles when so-called evidence says otherwise. They also allow Miles to make mistakes and learn from them. Miles' friend Alicia stands up against authority in a no-win situation that could get her expelled. She uses poetry to give voice to the voiceless students in her school.

Violence

Discussion about teens being "jack boys" who robbed people. A boy's uncle accidently killed himself while trying to kill the boy (not shown). A fight between teens and men on a basketball court. One man's nose is broken. Another man is stopped from stealing and his wrist is broken. A bad guy is killed by spearing, no blood is shown; it's general comic book violence.

Sex

Typical boy-girl high school flirting. A man talks about how his brother had a way with the ladies, and a teen discusses how he's the product of an unwed mother. A dad discusses "pillow talk" with his wife.

Language

Mild name-calling, such as "stupid," and making fun of other kids because of their appearance (e.g., calling an overweight Korean teen "Bruce Bruce Lee"). 

Consumerism

Several high-end sneaker brands mentioned. Air Jordans mentioned regarding their cost and in the context of people being robbed and having their expensive shoes taken.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several people are mentioned as having drug issues, but no drug use is shown. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Miles Morales: Spider-Man, by award-winning New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds (As Brave as You, Ghost), is based on the half-black/half-Puerto Rican comic book character introduced in 2011 by the Ultimate Marvel imprint and is now part of the regular Marvel line. In this Marvel YA novel, Miles is a teen from the Brooklyn projects who's attending an elite prep school on scholarship. He's having a rough junior year, and he's haunted by the death of his criminal uncle. The novel tackles the subjects of responsibility and morality, teen crushes, and the prison industrial complex in a teen-friendly superhero format.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byThe Superhero Nerd November 19, 2017

Not very Good

I love to read but, this wasn't very good. The vocabulary and grammar are terrible. Between the choppy writing, and the characters dialogue it really got o... Continue reading

What's the story?

In MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MANMiles is a half-black/half-Puerto Rican teen on scholarship at an elite prep school. He still has the same issues every other high school kid has -- on top of being a web slinger. He's having trouble at school, and when his powers start to go haywire, he wonders if he really should be a hero at all, or if he should just focus on getting his school life together. When Miles discovers a dangerous plot that threatens what he holds dear, he has a decision to make. Will he continue on as Spidey? What about his scholarship? Is he really just like his criminal uncle?

Is it any good?

Clever, timely, and fun, this fresh Spider-Man story explores the real-life implications of the school-to-prison pipeline and the prison industrial complex in a way that's easy for teens to grasp. The book takes on Miles' complicated life -- school troubles, girl troubles, the secret of being Spider-Man, and the guilt he feels over his uncle's death -- and combines it with a brilliant introduction to issues regarding the prison clause of the 13th Amendment (which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime), white supremacy, and the issue of being brown in "white spaces." Reynolds is a master at making young-adult literature come alive in a way that's relatable, fully fleshed out, and significant. 

Readers will love Miles' honesty, his awkwardness, his love for his friends and family, and his struggles with forces much bigger than himself. They'll root for him and cry with him and eagerly await more from the cool new Spider-Man.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role authority figures have in boosting or crushing a kid's spirit in Miles Morales: Spider-Man. Can you give examples of when you were encouraged by a teacher? What about discouraged? How did you cope? 

  • Families can talk about the media's portrayal of news and crime. Do you think the media unfairly reports crime from certain communities over others? 

  • Families can also talk about the importance of support systems. How do Miles' Korean-American best friend, Ganke, Miles' dad, and his love interest, Alicia, encourage Miles when everything seems to go wrong? Who is your support system?

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