Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wonder Woman: Warbringer

It seems superheroes are the big thing right now, which means there are plenty of superhero-related books coming out.  Thankfully, Wonder Woman is the first in this new line of young adult hardcover books published by Random House.  So often, Batman and Superman take the front seat, while Wonder Woman barely gets a notice.  Now, for once, Wonder Woman is leading the pack (as it should be!).

Author Leigh Bardugo provides readers with an "untold" tale of Diana's past - back when Diana was still a teenager, determined to prove herself, yet still somewhat unbridled and unsure.  And Bardugo takes Diana from her safe little world on Themyscria and throws her, as a teenager, into the world of today, with cell phones, computers, violence, and war.  Yes, it's another "fish out of water" story, and while the writing is quite dense, the overall story was actually pretty good - better than a lot of the drivel we are getting in the comics.

When a ship goes down just beyond the veil that hides Themyscria from the rest of the world, Diana happens to see a young girl struggling to survive.  Knowing the law of the island that forbids outsiders, Diana dives into the water and rescues the girl. But the rescue has some unexpected consequences, as the island itself fights to remove the cancer that is the girl.  Diana, keeping her a secret, seeks the aid of the mysterious Oracle to guide her choice - save the girl's life and return her to man's world (with the possibility of exile if her mother finds out), or allow the girl to die, thus saving the island and keeping the island's secrets from outsiders.

Diana, being who she is, does the only thing she can do - she saves the girl's life.

Alia Keralis lived what she thought was a normal life.  Yes, she was black, so she faced discrimination.  Yes, her family was wealthy, so she faced hatred for her so-called privilege.  And yes, she always had this nagging feeling that something wasn't quite right.  But nothing in the world could prepare her to learn that she is actually a Warbringer - and that the only way to save the world is to allow Diana to take her to a fabled spring that may or may not exist that would put an end to the long line of Warbringers, or to be killed!  She does not like either choice, but the more she hangs around with Diana, the more she begins to realize there are a lot of things in this world that are more real than she ever dreamed!

Thus, Bardugo pits Diana and Alia on a race against time, as they, along with Alia's brother, her best friend, and the boy she likes, head for salvation, all the while trying to avoid the army that seems determined to kill Alia and put an end to the growing violence and war in the world.  Alia finally realizes the stakes and forces Diana to make an oath - if they can't get to the spring on time, Diana will need to kill Alia to prevent what is to come.

And for an Amazon, an oath means everything...

The book is not exactly fast-paced, and at over 350-pages, it can feel cumbersome to read.  However, it definitely has its moments, and Theo and Nim are some of the best supporting characters I have seen in a while.  Plus, Bardugo stays very true to Diana's character, as someone who values peace, but isn't afraid to fight for the ones she loves.  And don't try to figure out where this fits in with the continuity of Wonder Woman's history - it doesn't fit with the movie continuity, the television continuity, or any of the comic versions - so if you read it with the goal of enjoying a good Wonder Woman story, then you'll be satisfied.

I will be curious to see if DC proffers up any other Wonder Woman novels in the future.

RATING:  8 golden lassos of truth out of 10 for reminding us all of what type of hero Wonder Woman really is.

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