Brian K. Vaughan, the man behind the wonderful Saga series, has created another winner in Paper Girls. As my friend describes it, “Paper Girls is like “Stand By Me” but with girls.” I like that description, because this is a saucy, adventurous group of girls, but their adventures are more exotic and terrifying than simply looking for a dead body.
In Paper Girls, we meet literal paper girls who get up long before sunrise to ride their bikes and deliver newspapers. Set in 1988 on paper girls’ hell day, the day after Halloween, four girls team up to deliver papers and watch out for each other, because they’re not the only ones up this early. Groups of costumed people still haven’t ended their Halloween shenanigans and who better to mess with than paper girls?
But the people that mess with our girls are much more than just drunken teenagers, though I still couldn’t tell you who or what they are. Aliens? People from the future? A mix of both? The girls get far more than they bargained for when they run into some masked men, find something that looks like a spaceship, and discover some terrifying looking monsters. By the end of Paper Girls I still don’t know what the hell is happening, but neither do the girls.
The girls are by far the best thing about this story. We have Erin, new to the paper girl scene and a bit naive, who looks up to Mac, the first girl in their area to deliver papers. Mac is the most street smart and also the one from the poorest, most dysfunctional family. Then there’s Tiffany and KJ, who come from wealthier families and go to private, religious-affiliated schools. Tiff has super cool gadgets and Kaje has the most book smarts and she also delivers my favorite line, “Am I the only one who actually reads the thing we deliver?”
As much as I love the girls, one thing about them threw me off. There are some offensive slang words used, as well as some homophobic statements, and when I first read them I forgot that this was set in 1988. Were those things said more openly back then? You bet. I think the language fits, but what’s great about it is that other characters call it out, so it’s not left hanging in the air. I think that’s another reason I like these girls – they’re willing to be honest, truthful, and brave enough to call out their friends when they hear bullshit.
Even though I still have no idea what’s happening in Paper Girls, I’m so excited to keep reading. I want to learn more about the girls and I need to figure out the cliffhanger of where (and when) they are.