Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Saga, Volume 3 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
First published: 2014
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2014 (source)
Reasons: anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.
Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?
BETH: Saga is one of the very few times when we have a book in our Banned Books feature where I can actually see where *some* of the challenges are coming from. To be perfectly honest, I did find that there were more potentially shocking images/text in Volume One and Two (which we’ve also covered here on BB), but there were still incidents in Volume Three that could be quite controversial, depending on your sensibilities. One thing I really don’t agree on, and I think I might have mentioned it before, is the “anti-family” reason behind banning this graphic novel. I can’t see where this has come from and if anything, I think Saga actually promotes family i.e. the loving parents of baby Hazel, the sadness of Marko losing a parent and finally, the way his mother steps up to support her son and his partner Alana, despite her reservations about the relationship.
CHRISSI: Like Beth, I can see why this book has been challenged. It’s quite explicit in places and the language is a bit…colourful! It doesn’t offend me at all. As for the age group thing, that confuses me. I don’t know who Saga is aimed at, but to me it’s for the higher range of YA and adults. I don’t think this book is aimed at children, so I don’t get that challenge at all.
How about now?
BETH: As a relatively new release with volumes still being released there hasn’t been time for any change/shift in attitudes regarding Saga. I would say if you’re easily offended, this probably isn’t the series for you. It DOES have offensive language with a few mentions of the “c” word (which I know my sister is going to cringe over!) and at points, it is quite sexually explicit both in images and in language. I didn’t find it as explicit as the other volumes in the series but there are still things that are a bit risque and perhaps not entirely appropriate for younger readers. If I was going to suggest an age range, I would tentatively say 16+? I don’t really agree with saying it’s inappropriate for the age group as to be fair to it, I don’t think it’s marketed for youngsters! It’s definitely an adult read.
CHRISSI: Yes you’re right, Beth. I did cringe. I can’t stand that word! I don’t think the attitudes towards this book will change for a while. It’s still going to offend some, some will absolutely lap it up at the same time. The language in this book does offend me, but I don’t think it’s out of place in the story. It’s the sort of story where language like that does fit. It’s not bad language for bad language’s sake.
What did you think of this book?:
BETH: I’m starting to enjoy this series more and more. In Volume One, I enjoyed it but was still a little bit confused as to what was going on. By Volume Two I had got my head round what was happening a lot more and by Volume Three I’m now fully invested in the story and am eager to see what happens next with the characters. I still think there’s some shocks and surprises in store for the reader but I’m pleased with the direction it’s taking so far.
CHRISSI: It’s a quick read and definitely captures my attention when I am reading it. I’m enjoying seeing where the series is going but I wouldn’t say that it was one of my favourite graphic novels. However, the illustrations are beautiful and well worth pouring over.
Would you recommend it?:
BETH: But of course! (with caution for the sensitive!)