Cover Image: Paper Planes

Paper Planes

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Member Reviews

Rating: 3.2⭐️
Pub Date: 7/18

Thank you to NetGalley & Maverick for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

✨Official Synopsis✨
High schoolers Leighton Worthington & Dylan Render have always been inseparable, but when they’re both shipped off to a summer camp for troubled youth in the aftermath of a tragic event, their lifelong friendship is put to the test.
Neither ‘chose’ to be there, but they’ll need a positive evaluation from the camp to avoid being sent away, so they can continue attending high school with their friends.
The challenges of camp pushes the once-inseparable Dylan & Leighton onto personal journeys of self-discovery that force them to re-examine the incident that threatens their futures, explore the friendship they have shared for so long, & discover the type of person each of them truly wants to be.

🧠My Thoughts🧠
I usually don’t read graphic novels, but since there’s ace rep, I wanted to give it a shot. There’s so much diversity in this novel, including those of all sizes & races, & non-binary representation as well. The characters are at a difficult time in their lives, as they’re trying to figure out who they are as humans & what they might want to do in the future, which is super relatable (even to me at age 30).
I was initially confused as to what kind of camp they were at. I do think that one character actually grew during their time at the camp, while the other didn’t. Leighton was a bit of a brat & treated her supposed best friend like crap, which she tried to justify with her asexuality. I did feel for Leighton at certain times because her parents were a little controlling and imposing, but communication would have solved the majority of her problems with Dylan (which seems to be one of the things she needed to work on at camp, per her therapist, but didn’t learn). As someone who’s ace, it hurts that one of my least favorite characters was Leighton.
I’m so happy for & proud of Dylan, & I’m so glad that they’re coming into their own; I just want to give them the biggest hug.
I really enjoyed the art & will definitely be checking out some more graphic novels in the future.

🎾🏳️‍🌈👩🏻‍🚀

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This was such a cute graphic novel. Very fast paced and story was so cute and very real I wanted more

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Really enjoyed the art and the story on this one. I liked how this wasn't a typical YA romance even though Leighton was a bit much at some points.

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One of the most confusing books I've ever read.
The good: i liked the art style. Cricket (side-character with way too little impact on the story) was my favorite because she was a genuinely cool, funny and considerate person and i wish more would have happened with her. I also liked how diverse the characters were (bipoc and queer). I also liked how passionate Dylan was, about Leighton and about becoming an astronaut.
The bad: this book has dual POV (Leighton and Dylan) and the scenes would way too often switch from present to past which made it hard for me to understand what's going on. I also felt like some of the flashbacks were unnecessary and weren't 100% chronological. The ages of the characters make no sense. Also, Leighton being rich feels like such a random trait because it doesn't influence her that much. Furthermore, Leighton is asexual, but i think the representation is poorly made.

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This novel follows these two queer characters who communicate using paper planes. As a non-binary asexual, this graphic novel felt like a fever dream to me. The fact that the other is unlabeled? Amazing representation. Aside from the representation, I really do like the art style. It was so beautiful with the popping colors— it kept me intrigued.

However, I did notice some ableist language. And the fact that a white author is talking about being ashamed to be black is not something I’m entirely on train for. There were of course, some plot holes— I think it’s very hard to write a graphic novel without plot holes, so I have some questions left unanswered. Lastly, I didn’t like how rushed the ending was. I wouldn’t say it felt out of character, but I was expecting something different. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book. Would recommend to younger audiences.

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Such a great story! The art is so well done as well! The only thing that took some time getting used to was the timeline. The story constantly jumps back and forward in time, making it a little difficult to follow but I still really enjoyed the story!

I think it is so important to have these topics laid out in multiple formats for people to consume. Graphic novels are a great way to tell a story while also literally painting a picture for the readers.

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I'm so glad I started requesting more graphic novels, because soooo many good ones are coming out lately!
This one's about two best friends who go to a summer camp for troubled teens. Their relationship with each other is delightfully complex, and I loved how everything turned out, even if it's bittersweet. The cast of characters they meet there looks diverse, although sadly only one of the other teens gets fleshed out (and it was an incredible pick! But I just wish we knew a bit more of the others). I'm at a time of my life that I like to call social turmoil, where every social circle of mine is shifting and changing, and to see that represented in a story that I could devour in a few hours brought me peace, in a way. The characters were going through some stuff similar to what I'm going through, and it felt very real, not at all weird-paced which is something that can happen in graphic novels. There are some mysteries/questions in the plot and it all gets revealed at the right time.

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This was such a fun book. I loved all the different LGBTQ+ rep in it. The only thing I “disliked” was all the jumping back and forth in time. It was a bit confusing and I don’t how to say it but heavy I guess? Otherwise, I loved it. Quick, easy, fun read that still touches in on a lot of different and heavy topics. Great summer read!

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There are so many things to like about this graphic novel! The art is very charming and clear--I especially love the way flashbacks have a slightly muted color palette--and the story really embraces complications of modern queer adolescence that I feel like I wasn't seeing in comics for a younger audience even 5-10 years ago. I love the way we get so much story through interspersed flashbacks, doling out information and building up to how these two characters ended up in the present being awkward around each other at camp they don't seem to have chosen. There's a little bit of mystery, interpersonal drama, and the really lovely throughline of the paper planes connecting Dylan and Leighton and then further connecting them to the people around them.

Also it's great to see so much ordinary diversity! Queer diversity for sure, but also diversity of bodies, of class, and of race, all in that perfect space between "looking diverse without addressing any issue directly" and "addressing every possible issue with the most fraught language and anxiety possible." The characters and their lives and identities feel real and specific, and it pleases me to no end that though Dylan and Leighton each struggle with how their queer identities (nonbinary and asexual, respectively) are received or suppressed by others, they have very few qualms about these identities within themselves--they're both frank and sure about who they are and what they feel.

And that's something else I loved about this book: nobody is only one thing. Nobody makes only bad choices or good choices, is only accepting or only biased, and in the end every relationship is in a place of tenuous connection that feels very true to how people grow, and how relationships shift and change. All in all, this was a great read!

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CONTENT NOTE: classism, ableist language, anti-queer attitudes, anti-ace attitudes, bullying, white people appropriating AAVE, forced institutionalization

Paper Planes is a story about re-evaluating a lifelong friendship after a life-altering mistake as two young queer kids face entering high school and consider their future paths.

What Worked for Me:
✦ The art was great! I'm a fan of Dozerdraws' work, and this did not disappoint. Dozerdraws' way with expressive faces and body language is always top notch for me.
✦ The lettering was easy to read and well done, which is always a big plus for me! I wasn't taken out of the moment outside of a few large blocks of text that felt a bit clunky, but that felt more reflective of the writing than the lettering to me.
✦ I loved the colors in this, too. It felt warm and inviting, and it's something I've come to associate with Dozerdraws' work.
✦ It was nice to see a few kinds of queer identity represented in here: asexual, nonbinary, and unlabeled queer identities were all represented. I always feel glad to see more than one or two characters being openly queer in story. I feel like that's something I can usually count on seeing from Mad Cave's Maverick imprint, which makes me happy.
✦ The idea of communicating via paper planes was a fun narrative and visual tool. I thought that played well with the way the characters felt like they had to be secretive with their own identities throughout the book.
✦ I liked that the story didn't shy away from demonstrating the casual cruelty rich people engage in with poor people in a variety of ways. It could be a bit over the top at some moments, but hey, so can rich people.
✦ I liked Cricket's character-- it was nice to see a racialized character who had been homeschooled by artist parents who are progressive minded as opposed to another white kid with fundamentalist Christian parents.
✦ I really liked the moment with counselor using the nonbinary pride flag colors to communicate with one of the students in a subtle way. I would have loved to seen that explored a little more.

Spoilers follow!
✦ I really liked the idea of this book: the decline of a friendship and the leaving to walk down a new path of your own. I think that's very interesting since it happens to a lot of people, especially when growing up and figuring out more of who you are, and would love to see explored more in other books, too!

END OF SPOILER

What Didn't Work for Me:
Everything that didn't work about this book for me was about the writing. And so much of what doesn't work lies within the details and specifics of the story, so please forgive the long list of spoilers in this section!

I also want to mention that I'm a white nonbinary person, so I'm eager to hear from Black reviewers about how the author and team handled race in this book.

✦ It didn't sit right to me that a white author was writing a Black/mixed character described in a self-hating way. Granted, this person was described through the eyes of another character, but it felt... off to me.
✦ It also didn't sit right with me that a white author repeatedly had their white character use AAVE.
✦ I could do without the ableist language in the book.
✦ Jennie Wood's writing frequently crossed into territory exploring identities that, in my opinion, they don't have the depth, skill, or experience to write about as a white author. For example, they wrote Leighton's mom, a person with Black and white parents, as wanting to pass for white and to pretend her biological, estranged Black father didn't exist in favor of her white parent(s?).
I think this is an area that calls for great care when written by someone who is not a member of that community, and I'm not sure that Wood's script was handled with that level of care. It felt written in a way that villainized the parents rather than to lend empathy to them.
✦ The asexual representation. *sigh* One of the reasons I was excited to read this book was for the rumored asexual character, so I was disappointed when I read this. I'm not ace myself, so I would like to reserve my thoughts for the time being since I'm out of my depth, and I look forward to reading asexual people's analysis on this representation.
I did see one reviewer on NetGalley who mentioned being ace themself and feeling uncomfortable with so many aspects of the book's approach, so I don't think I'm completely off base with my reading.
✦ I felt like this story wanted to tell me what it was more than show me what it was. It often felt forced and awkward instead of just letting the story unfold and inviting us to experience the story with the characters.

Spoilers follow!
✦ While I like the idea of a friendship break up or a negative arc of a friendship, I don't think this was very well written, to be frank. The script failed to establish a strong opening to introduce us to the characters before immediately jumping around from scene to flashback to scene again. It took several tries for me to fully understand what was supposed to be happening on the page, and once I did figure it out, the payoff was not worth it for me.
✦ The personalities of the two protagonists aren't fully fleshed out for me. Both characters would behave in inconsistent ways, which I suppose could make sense to some degree since they are young teenagers, but it didn't come across that way to me. In light of all the other issues I had with the script, I'm inclined to believe it's the writing.
✦ In the story, it's clear that we're seeing Leighton distancing herself from Dylan. Since we typically see this from Dylan's perspective, we don't get any real answers as to why this is happening or even if it's true that this is what Leighton is doing on purpose until later in the book. However, Leighton continues to try to control who Dylan hangs out with, what Dylan does, and so on before turning around and giving Dylan the cold shoulder. The effect comes off as cruel to me, which I'm not sure if that was the author's intention.
It's unclear to me if this was meant to show Leighton having trouble letting go of a lifelong friendship and wants to help her friend, to show Leighton trying to exert control over who Dylan is friends with because she's parroting her parents' judgements about certain types of people, or if it's just poor writing. I think this could have been better clarified if we had been given more insight earlier on into Leighton's mindset, especially since we're given a dual perspective throughout the story.
Overall, I didn't like that Leighton was portrayed as a kind of mean person while also saying that she wasn't. I think kids with very authoritative parents can have a hard time going against their parents' wishes, especially when still so young, so I would have liked to see Leighton portrayed in a bit more of a compassionate light.
✦ While I appreciated this being a slow departure of ways, I hated to see Leighton's character lean into the idea of performing allocisheteronormativity in order to continue to please her parents, particularly her mother. I think the reason this bothers me so much is that I still don't fully understand the writer's intentions with this story. Is it to show us a sad ending for Leighton? Because I don't get that impression, based on Leighton's narrations, that she's distressed about this. So are we as the audience supposed to feel sad for her? Happy for her? Mixed feelings? It's unclear, and that irks me.

END OF SPOILER

Overall
I give Paper Planes 2 out of 5 speech bubbles: I didn't enjoy this as much as I wanted to, but I'd still say it might be worth a shot for some people.

How to Read It
Paper Planes comes out July 18th, and you can request that your local library order a copy, check out your local comic book store, or pre-order a copy through Mad Cave Studios, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble.

Read This Next
If you liked this, check out Needle and Thread by Ennun Ana Iurov, Micah Myers, and David Pinckney; In Limbo by Deb JJ Lee; and Stone Fruit by Lee Lai

If you enjoyed this review, I have a monthly comic review series called More Comics Please! on my website with interior page excerpts and additional information not shared here on NetGalley. You can sign up to receive them in your inbox by subscribing to my newsletter Into the Bramble at jbeoin.com/newsletter.

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Actual rating: 4.5/5

What a wonderful book about friendship, platonic love, self-discovery, and more. Dylan and Leighton were best friends for many years. Their story is told in many retrospective snippets along the book, and it was beautiful and heartbreak at times.

This book brings non-binary and ace representation in a beautiful way. Seeing teenagers finding themselves and being supported or struggling to be accepted, can be a strong thing.

I’m don’t usually read much graphic novels, and I’m glad to read such good ones when I do.

I absolutely recommend this book.

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I love a good graphic novel. I enjoyed this one but it ended somewhat abruptly. I had more answers than questions but I did enjoy the story. I wonder if there is a sequel or another story coming. 4⭐️

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I have mixed feeling about this one. I love graphic novels. This one was beautifully illustrated. I loved the hard topics discussed in here but the story as a whole felt a bit flat to me.

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This book was lovely. Messy, queer, and complicated, and with difficult, maddeningly reasonable decisions that nonetheless hurt my heart. The art was gorgeous, and the characters were so whole and human. I loved the complexity of the relationships, and the bittersweet, hopeful ambiguity of the ending.

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I quite liked this graphic novel. I really liked Dylan as a character, and the story was interesting as well. The setting was also interesting and caused for some fun moments. However, I did think this fell a bit flat for me. I just think the reveal of what happened between the two main characters took a bit long to get there. That made it quite difficult to get really invested in it. It also didn't help that Leighton was extremely unlikeable as well. The ending also felt a bit abrupt in my opinion. But yeah, it was still quite decent so I wouldn't disrecommend it.

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What I love about Paper Planes is that, in addition to being entertaining, it covers a lot of important topics in just two hundred pages.

Here we have parents' excessive expectations towards their children, self-discovery, a difficult relationship between two teenagers, as well as a certain secret from the past that affects their present times. There is also a wide representation of LGBTQ+.

What did Dylan and Leighton do to end up at summer camp for troubled youth? What events led to this? Discovering the answers to these questions was really exciting and - I will not deny - thought-provoking.

I liked the main characters, and I especially admired how truly they were created. They were making mistakes, were doing and saying stupid things and were making unwise decisions - as teenagers do.

About the art - I really, really liked it! Simple but colorful and clear. Perfect for me!

"Paper planes" is a graphic novel perfect for pride month, but not only! I definitely need a physical copy of this book!

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I have mixed feelings about this one. I love a lot of the elements in it, the nonbinary and asexual representation, the summer camp setting, the bittersweet nature of it and how it was okay that not every issue and difference could be resolved, especially for a story featuring 8th graders just coming into their identities and emotions. But I had a hard time with the split timeline, and bouncing between the two in general. In both the past and present timelines, Leighton and Dylan bounced back and forth between being open/happy and closed/distant with each other in both timelines in a way that changed the tone completely from page to page, whether they were in the past or the present. So between the time and tone jumps, it wasn't always the easiest to keep pace with what was coming next in the story. With that said, I did enjoy it, and the identity rep alone gives it merit in a collection.

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A moving and bittersweet queer coming of age story that explores the particular mix of pain and joy that comes from discovering who you are. Joy and excitement for new possibilities....and the pain and fear about what you leave behind. A thoughtful examination of the pressures that growing up puts on friendships, romantic relationships, and the grey spaces in between.

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The title of this book caught my attention. I found that young adults, maybe even middle grade kids would like this book. It shows how kids are trying to find themselves with todays pressure that is out there for kids to deal with. Not only may home life be rough, the life at school can also be though when you are not sure how to come out or what you even want. This book shows that you must believe in yourself and do the best that you can do. It does not matter what socio-economic status you live in, or what gender you prefer or prefer to be called, you can dream and make those dreams come true.
The idea of the paper airplanes was a great idea for kids to connect with each other.
Stay strong no matter who you are……..

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Woop Woop to non-binary and enby representation in this beautiful story about all the things that traps us as teens: our friends, our sexuality, and all the demands from our parenst and society to fit into neat little boxes. Dylan and Leighton don't fit the boxes, though Leighton tries with ALL their might to, and Dylan tries to break free. Very moving.

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