Hey, everyone! I’m excited this week to bring you a review of a book series (that has ended) that I’ve just started. Like many of you experienced comic readers, I love Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga series. The art, the story, the writing…all amazing, so after reading a bunch of Saga, I decided to seek out other work by Vaughan. A friend, knowing that I am a high school teacher always looking for new books for my class, turned me on to Runaways, a series that debuted in 2003, was cancelled in 2004, came back in 2005 and ultimately ended in 2009; a familiar tale with good stories, especially sitcoms (someone please bring back Futurama!).
Synopsis: Runaways is the story of a group of high schoolers that accidentally finds out that their parents are a group of super-villains. The teens, fearing for their lives, and attempting to bring their parents to justice, go on the run, and in the process, they discover that they have some cool abilities as well. Now, I’ve only read the first two trades, so my review will cover the introduction to the series. I plan on reviewing more of the series in a later post, so yes, spoiler alert, I do dig it, and I will read more.
Pros (and/or what you can use in the classroom): While I was not immediately excited by Runaways, it had me by book three (in the first trade). This can be attributed to two things: the cool characters, and the humor. The group of teens consists of four girls, two boys, and one dinosaur…yes, they have a dinosaur. Four strong female protagonists (possibly five…I don’t know the sex of the dino) alone make this a must have for your classroom library: girl power! Vaughan does an amazing job making us care about these kids; we want to explore their world with them, and we do care about their success; I can see teens caring about their well-being even more. Plus, the book does not take itself very seriously, and the light-hearted moments play really well; although, the pop-culture references might have a short shelf life, so if you add this title to your classroom library, do it quickly, or you might become the “hip” teacher having to explain references that were cool when you were in college. I don’t know if I would use this as part of a lesson in my classroom, but I am definitely putting a couple of copies in my graphic novel collection in my classroom for a few reasons: it’s seriously fun to read; I can see both male and female students getting into it; it may be a literary entry point for reluctant readers.
Cons: Really, there are only a couple of things that that I can say here. First of all, this title does lack the weight of a title that I would teach on its own or as a companion piece in a lesson. Also, as I mentioned before, the pop-culture references have the possibility of eventually growing stale. That’s about it. I mean, the copy of book two that I had fell apart while I was reading it, so I would stay away from the smaller “Marvel Digests” version and obtain copies that will withstand some wear because these will get read (a lot) by all levels of high school readers.
Rating: I’d keep this book in the high school classroom. There is some violence, although, it is toned down for younger readers, and any bad language is edited with $@!#, so that’s good! For a copy on your classroom book shelf, 10/10 (only if you get the copies that don’t fall apart). For developing a lesson plan, 5/10. I know I spoke against it, but as an introduction activity to a lesson or a hook into visual literacy, I guess it could work, and it would leave the kids wanting more for sure, and that’s never a bad thing.
In closing, read this title; I think you will really like it, and explore more of Vaughan’s work. I for sure will be doing many more reviews on his titles, so stay tuned.
Let me know if you have any questions about the book, and please let me know if this review has been helpful. Happy reading!