Book Review: Slam, Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon

Slam, Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source: Borrowed

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.

Every time I go to the library, I tell myself that I need to just return books and not check anything else out. Every time I go to the library, I leave with books. What can I do. On this last trip, I was tempted by Slam. I have to say, I went in with zero expectations. I have no particular interest in roller derby, so I wasn’t sure if I’d relate to this one.

I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I read it all in one sitting and, despite some minor problems with it, I thought it was really well-written.

I’ll start with those problems, which really were pretty minor:

First of all, the pacing is a little off. Things happen very quickly, which isn’t necessarily a problem in a graphic novel (better than nothing happening, after all), but I felt like the resolution at the end kind of came out of nowhere.

My other problem is probably related to the very fast pacing — the fact that even after finishing this volume, I didn’t felt like I really knew any of the characters. We’ve been introduced, I recognize their faces, I know their names, I know little things about them… but I feel like we’ve just met, and by the end of the first volume, I like to feel more than just vaguely familiar with a character.

Those minor problems aside, here are some things that I really liked about this graphic novel:

First of all, the art. I really enjoyed the art style. It’s eye-catching and fun without being over-the-top. The characters are all really different from each other and easy to differentiate, which is something I haven’t found in a lot of graphic novels I’ve recently read.

Second of all, the friendships and the backstories. Here I want to say that this was shelved as YA at my library and while there’s nothing inappropriate in here, I don’t think that teenagers would necessarily relate to a lot of the problems that the characters face. We have one woman who joins roller derby because she finds out that her fiance had been cheating on her. I can relate at my current age. When I was fourteen years old? Probably not. We also have a friendship that really struggles because of school and work and other commitments. Also something I can relate to at my current age. As a teenager, I probably would have rolled my eyes and made some kind of comment about how if you really wanted the friendship to survive, you’d find the time to hang out. I thought this was really well-done because it wasn’t shoved in your face, but it was kind of a running theme through the volume.

I’m really excited to read the next volume of Slam. (Honestly, I’m probably going to do it a couple minutes after I finish writing this review.)

Have you read Slam? What was your most recent book-related surprise (positive or negative)?
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