Slam! Vol. 1
In the fast-paced, hard-hitting, super cheeky, all-female world of banked track roller derby, two young women will have to decide if their budding friendship is stronger than the pull of a team when a win is on the line.
When life starts coming at you like a freight train, you have two options: run away screaming or lean into the hit.
From the first day of Fresh Meat Orientation for the Eastside Roller Girls, Jennifer and Maisie knew they’d be fast friends. But when they’re drafted to different teams, the pull of competition — and their increasingly messy personal lives — threaten to drive them apart. In roller derby you take your hits, get back up, and learn how to be a better jammer, a better blocker, a better lover, and a better friend. Derby can heal your heart . . . but it might break a bone or two in the process.
Bestselling novelist, screenwriter, and retired Los Angeles Derby Doll Pamela Ribon (Going In Circles, Why Girls Are Weird) joins artist Veronica Fish (Archie, Silk) for a tale of friendship, heartbreak, and truly epic jams.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that cover art. It’s saucy, sexy, rebellious, and so much fun. Want me to read your graphic novel/book? Put a cover like that on it.
I’m officially hooked on this series. I finished Slam! in one night, and the next morning went to get Volume 2 but it wasn’t in-stock at my local Chapters. Poop. I’m still on the lookout for it and I cannot WAIT to read it!
The novel profiles two women in their early twenties (yes, I’m surprised it’s been shelved as YA too) who take up roller derby as a way of dealing with the different stressors in their lives. For Jenn, it’s her Master’s degree and for Maisie, it’s that she’s just been cheated on and subsequently dumped by her boyfriend of three years. Right away roller derby introduces them to a new way of life and they form new and stronger identities and senses of self because of it. For example, Maisie learns that she has worth; Jenn’s outcome is a bit rockier (I think we see that she’s someone who struggles to find balance in her life) but ultimately I think that her personal changes aren’t bad. The reader sees this inner struggle happen for both characters where roller derby brings out the best in both of them yet they cling to their past—or it clings to them.
I am in love with the bodily strength that is portrayed here. All of the women are big—muscular, curvy, heavy-set. The skinny characters purposefully eat gargantuan amounts to put on weight and make themselves a physical force to be reckoned with on the track. The pages are covered in what would never be considered North American society’s “ideal” female body image and it’s so gorgeous and refreshing. I also loved the racial diversity spread across the pages, but would have loved it even more if BOTH MCs were non-white. Basically, this graphic novel is presenting some wonderful things to the young adult audience: girls eating—a LOT; big, strong, round bodies; and women discovering and asserting themselves. Insert heart eyes!
Now, I am questioning why it’s considered YA. It’s pretty tame for a graphic novel, but it does cross over into territory that I would consider too mature for the YA audience. Bearing in mind that the term “YA” is generally targeted at 12-18 year olds (I’m talking marketplace here and I am very much aware that adults read YA), I was surprised that the characters were as old as they were and dealing with what they were. Maisie, specifically, had concerns about her wedding plans going to shreds when her boyfriend leaves her. She is also pretty open about her sex life, which is fine in itself and I’d love for girls to be more comfortable with their bodies and exploring their sexuality, but I don’t think anyone below the age of 15 or 16 should be reading what is in this book. I also don’t think many girls 18 and under are planning their weddings. Maybe that’s just me.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel. The artwork is droolingly gorgeous, the writing is so amazing and entertaining, and there are so many great messages contained within the pages that I can’t even. Please let me know if you added it to your to-read pile! I really want people to read this one.