Miles Morales: Shock Waves

Miles Morales is Brooklyn’s very own friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, a role he is adjusting to with tentative confidence. His web aim may be way off, and his snappy retorts may need a bit of work, but he can turn invisible! Can Peter Parker do that? NOPE. When a wave of earthquakes devastates Puerto Rico, the homeland of Miles’s mother, he knows he must do something to help. Conveniently enough, Kyle, the new girl at Brooklyn Visions Academy, is willing to help him out with his neighborhood’s block party fundraiser. Her father works for Serval Industries, whose CEO Mr. Snow will sponsor the fundraiser and bring donations directly to Puerto Rico on his personal jet. Everything seems great, until Kyle’s father sends her a confusing text message and then mysteriously disappears. It’s up to Miles, Kyle, and Miles’s roommate Ganke Lee to put the pieces together and figure out Snow’s true motivation.

Though this book features supernatural heroes and villains, the Puerto Rican earthquakes bring a connection to recent real world events. Readers will likely associate the Puerto Rican earthquakes in the story with the real-life hurricanes and earthquakes that have caused severe damage to the island in the last few years. Miles is half Puerto Rican, so the earthquakes directly affect his family. But by showing his mother’s damaged childhood home, this book forces readers to relate to the devastation on a personal level, making the book feel like a call to action.

Miles’s thoughts provide authentic teenage narration and are clearly distinguished from the traditional rounded white speech bubbles by appearing in white text on a red background. The dialogue and narration are funny and youthful; someone references “Pics or it didn’t happen,” and at one point Kyle says, “Please don’t make me go full Karen and call security.” In what is perhaps the most charming quote of the book, Ganke references the movie To Catch a Thief, which Miles had recommended to him, to which Miles replies, “Cary Grant’s dope, right?”

I read the uncorrect proof, which switches from full color to black-and-white rudimentary illustrations in the midst of the book; the cataloging-in-publication page states that the illustrations will appear in their final form in the published book. In the approximately 20 pages that include full color illustrations, the art is striking, with a mid-20th century graphic design-inspired aesthetic. Miles and his friends look like tweens or young teens. Fans of the Marvel Comics Universe will be happy to see the cameos from Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl, with a reference to Avengers Academy. This book will most likely find its audience, but in case it needs a hand, give it to kids who enjoy realistic graphic novels with an undercurrent of tough topics, such as New Kid and Sunny Side Up.

Miles Morales: Shock Waves
By Justin A. Reynolds
Art by  Pablo Leon
Scholastic, 2021
ISBN: 9781338648041

Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
Series ISBNs and Order
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NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)
Creator Representation:  Black, Guatemalan-American,  Character Representation: Afro-Puerto-Rican, Black, Puerto Rican,