Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: Paper Girls 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang

This was a tough one. Now I know what you're thinking, it was just a graphic novel, aren't those super short and easy to read? You would be correct on both those fronts, but even if you write a graphic novel the story has to be believable and...well...good. This was neither.

I will give the benefit of the doubt in one regard however, this was the first volume out of a I don't know how many volume series, so it might pick up. I just don't see me going out of my way to continue the next volume.

The story itself was intriguing initially; 4 pre-teen girls off on an adventure a-la the Goonies or for a more modern comparison, Stranger Things. Here's the thing, I think the writers forgot that they were writing from the perspective of 4 pre-teen girls in the 80s. None of the dialog was believable and when it came to making them seem tough it was almost like the writers were trying waaaaay too hard.

So we start off on Halloween following Erin who is getting up early to do her stereotypical 80s kid's job of delivering newspapers.  As she's doing her job she is interrupted by a few high school boys (I'm assuming they were about 15) who decide that they'll be tough by harassing a 12 year old girl. 

However, before they can deal any real damage three other newspaper girls show up and defend Erin causing the boys to high tail it out of there because I guess they were outnumbered. So these other girls also
 deliver papers, but the story wants us to believe that this is their first interaction with Erin. While this makes sense in a way (Erin goes to Catholic school after all) if they all work in the same small town how are they JUST meeting each other?
Isn't Mac lovely?

Things quickly turn bad right away as one of the girls realizes her walkie talkie is missing and that someone is tormenting them by making scary sounds through it. They assume it's the high school boys, but of course it's not.

Then some hooded figures appear who are snooping around this neighborhood in the dark early hours which makes it all the more creepy. One of them wanders off and is killed pretty horribly by a crazy birdlike creature.

GOOD POINT: The visuals were actually pretty good. I enjoyed looking at them more than actually reading the story. It was dark, but not too much to make you feel like sinister stuff was around every corner. Kudos to the illustrator.

The girls find a machine in a basement after following the hooded figures still assuming they are high school boys. It looks very alien and it sends off some sort of power that freaks them out. They return to outside and everything feels off. No one is around as if the entire town has disappeared. 

They all decide to head to Mac's house because apparently her father has a gun and she thinks they are going to need it despite the fact that the only thing they have encountered that would potentially harm them were a few high school boys. 

At this point just let me say that Mac is not a good character. She is the typical trying too hard to be tough bad girl who claims to have had a rotten childhood (her dad remarried) and is just going to continue to make really bad decisions. 

Case in point, she brings her gaggle of girls to her parents house where they encounter her drunk stepmother who has taken it upon herself to already get the gun Mac alluded to earlier. There is a struggle for the gun and it goes off shooting Erin in the stomach. They all freak out and decide that the crazy stepmom needs to drive them all to the ER except she has run away. One of them suggests that they just drive and this is met with some resistance by the group, like why? You were okay two seconds ago to have a drunk adult drive you, but a sober 12 year old is just too dangerous?

Eventually they all pile into the car and are quickly stopped by what appears to be a knight riding a pterodactyl. He tries to speak with them, but is quickly dispatched by the hooded figures who randomly show up again. They claim that they can help heal Erin and not having many options the girls agree.

It's discovered that not only are the hooded figures time travelers, but they are also teenagers and one of them is gay. Now I knew that this was going to be a cringe moment because of the very tasteful comments Mac made earlier. Immediately she acts grossed out and is scolded by her friends. This was good, but it doesn't make up for the nastiness of this character. 

Oh, you're from the 80s? Then by all means continue with your homophobic rhetoric.
Then the two hooded teenagers need to take Erin to their time travel ship to fix her and they don't really explain this to the other girls opting instead to just straight-up disappear before their eyes. To which Mac reacts by calling them perverts. Yeah, that happens and she tries to defend her reasoning by the fact that they kidnapped Erin. Mac is just gross and at this point I was wanting her to have a gun shot wound.

The time travelers fix Erin, but in doing so end up killing themselves with no real explanation. The girls meet up with Erin in the basement from earlier because they realized the machine they found must have been the time machine and they just knew that is where Erin would appear. This makes no sense from a linear perspective.

They are then stopped outside of the basement by the Knights with pterodactyls who have called in this old guy to help them. I think he is their master, but it is never explained. Then another time jump sends them to the future or something because we then meet an older Erin and that is where the story ends.

It's just a mess. There is no flow in the story and no explanation as to why things are occurring. The characters are weak as fuck and Mac is just a garbage fire of a human being. Look, I get it's the 80s and stuff and the AIDS epidemic was a thing and gay rights were non-existent, but you don't need to have such a homophobic hate filled character. Especially a freaking 12 year old. 

I don't know where this story is going and frankly I do not care. I want to get rid of my copy of this, but my fear is that some adolescent child will pick it up and think this smut is okay. I would never let my daughter read this filth, there are so many better books with positive female role models I'm good without this one.

There are no other good points about this story but...

BAD POINT: This is what happens when two adult males attempt to write from the perspective of four pre-teen girls. You have no context to even attempt to do this. Either do the required amount of research to be able to give these characters the personalities they deserve or stay in your lane!

0 out of 5 stars

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