With the rousing success of Wonder Woman the movie, featuring a female super hero by a female director, you have to wonder if the YA version of her origin story would measure up. I have never trusted novelized spin-offs of popular franchises, Star Wars included. But by the grace of wise Athena and some smart publishers it seems like they let Leigh Bardugo have enough freedom to work her magic.
Bardugo has developed a magic touch when it comes to developing characters AND plot. The success of her Grisha series is evidence of that. She brought her A-game to Wonder Woman.
The first 100 pages of this book are a bit of a tedium. The island of the Amazons, while it’s supposed to be mystical, magical and a place of wonder didn’t really come across as such. It was a quick tour around the island, here’s a temple, here’s a herd of invisible horses, this is Diana’s home life and not a lot of tension. The second Diana hits New York the book really picks up. From then on the pacing is strong and all the characters come to life and the humour kicks in.
Diana is a fiercely strong ass-kicker, which is standard for Wonder Woman, struggling with some of the core issues Gal Gadot’s Wondy faced on screen. As a younger protagonist I find her slightly more relatable and as a bonus, Bardugo’s Diana also operates in the modern world, allowing her to call out the bullshit we face in our everyday lives, often with poignant and comedic effect.
The Best Part is Diana
Diana calling out business bros hitting on her in the subway? GOLDEN. Diana being oblivious to how much of a knockout she? SO MUCH FUN (and I also hate her a little). Diana learning that racial issues are still a thing? KINDA SAD.
Leigh has set this book up not only to deal with gender issues but also race issues with the characters of Alia, Jason, and Nim. It grounds the book in the present quite nicely while also making there story and characters feel real. Or as real as an Amazon super warrior who can throw a car like a frisbee can be.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer is a reaction to our times, where everything feels uneasy and tumultuous. You want Diana to be real. You want someone who will stand up for the disenfranchised and not hesitate to do what’s right even when the way forward looks bleak and everyone is telling you to stop trying, this is the way things are.
You want to be Diana in this novel. Physically a strong, brave, compassionate, unafraid to be yourself and able to vocally point out what’s wrong with the world when you see it. And if you want motivation to go to the gym and do some serious weight lifting here it is.
More of this, please.
From the ARC and subject to change.
Because the whole world loves to tell us what we can and can’t do, that we aren’t good enough. The people in your own home should be on your side. It’s the people who never learn the word impossible who make history, because they’re the ones who keep trying.