Book Review: The Backstagers (Volume 1)

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GLEE from the perspective of the kids who set up for those jerks.

“When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the only ones who don’t treat him like a new kid, the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Not only does he gain great, lifetime friends, Jory is also introduced to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain. With the unpredictable twists and turns of the underground world, the Backstagers venture into the unknown, determined to put together the best play their high school has ever seen. ” – Publishers Description.

This was recommended to me by both a friend and was listed as a read-alike for Check Please, one of my favorite reads this year. If you’re in the mood for something light, cute and fun – this is it. I thought this was highly enjoyable and reminded me of my high school years as a stagehand for plays and musicals. I absolutely adored the coloring of the illustrations. The fact that there’s a lot of fantasy at play here is really emphasized by the colors used and how gorgeous everything looks. It makes the otherworldly atmosphere even more eerie, which in this book is a huge element. It made me think a lot of Steven Universe in terms of style.

Although I liked this book a lot, I have to say the fantasy/otherworldly element is what kept me interested enough to check if my library had Volume 2. The creepy figure of the little boy, the odd, constant changing rooms, that’s the stuff that made me go “oh no I have to see where this goes!”

While I think this is a really fun first volume, it does suffer from “too quick” syndrome in that everything happens a little too quickly for my tastes. In comics I know it’s much harder to get character development across in so few pages, but my big criticism of this is that Jory falls into line with his new friends and especially his new love interest, without the reader getting a lot of character reasons why. Jory and Hunter are adorable and I love their newfound relationship, but at the same time it all unfolds a little quickly for my liking. I also found it a bit odd that the Backstagers are hiding this secret place from the rest of the school and are selective about who goes in and who doesn’t, yet Jory just joins in for the ride after 2 minutes. Nitpicky I know. Didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story, but something that made me think twice.

I should also mention that not only is this a light and fun read, there is a lot of diversity here in both race and sexual orientation. The author is bisexual and the artist is trans, so not only is reading this supporting marginalize voices, but it will also work if you, like me, are doing a reading challenge this year with an “own voices” listing.

Title:  The Backstagers
Author:  James Tynion IV and Rian Sygh
Format:  Paperback
Pages: 112
ISBN: 9781608869930

Three Descriptors: Charming, Colorful, Quirky

Read Alikes:
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson
Check Please by
Dead Weight by Terry Blas
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin

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