Staff Pick: Wonder Woman: Warbringer
Wonder Woman is having an amazing year. First, she crushed the box office this summer in a hugely popular movie, and now she's kicking off a 4-book series called DC Icons. The series will feature different iconic characters from the DC universe in books written by some of today's most popular young adult authors. The first title, Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, was released on August 29th.
Let's face it: comic book characters can be intimidating. There are a lot of backstories to remember, an insane amount of villains to keep track of it, and somebody out there who always wants to make you feel bad for not being a "true fan" who knows every single detail by heart. For fans with only a casual interest in the superhero genre, a book series can sound a bit daunting. Fortunately, Leigh Bardugo has created a story that is accessible to everyone, whether you're a longtime fan of Wonder Woman, you've recently discovered her in a summer blockbuster, or you know nothing about her.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer takes place in a universe where the events of this summer's movie have never happened, so a knowledge of the movie is not required. In this story, Diana has not yet become the superhero we know and love. Instead, she is a young girl trying to prove herself to her "sisters" on the island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons. The Amazons are female warriors who have died in battle and were granted new lives and immortality. Unlike everyone else on the island, Diana was never mortal and never earned her place as an Amazon by dying in battle. Her mother, desperate for a child, created her out of clay and she was given life by Zeus, making her the only person to have been born on Themyscira. As a result of this, Diana constantly feels as though she is not worthy to be an Amazon.
The events of the book kick off when Diana rescues a teenage girl named Alia who almost dies in a shipwreck off the coast of Themyscira. Alia, as it turns out, is a Warbringer, descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy and destined to cause fighting, destruction, and bloodshed. Diana believes she can rescue Alia from her fate, but they must avoid being captured by enemies set on using Alia to bring about a war.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the release of this book, and I was definitely prepared for disappointment. Leigh Bardugo is an incredible writer (if you haven't checked our her Six of Crows duology yet, what are you waiting for?), but she specializes in high fantasy stories, not superheroes who find themselves in New York City, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Surprisingly, I not only enjoyed this book, I devoured it. While there are definitely plenty of action scenes to keep the momentum going, I found the quiet moments to actually be the most entertaining, especially if they involved Diana learning something new about the human world.
The female friendships in this book, both human and Amazon, are beautifully portrayed, with characters lifting each other up and loving each other despite their flaws. This book also explores the meaning of family. Is family just who we are connected to by blood, or can our friends be our family, too? Wonder Woman: Warbringer also gets a thumbs up for diversity - aside from Diana, none of the main characters are white.
There was a lot of humor and a lot of heart crammed into this book. There was also a lot of Greek mythology - something I knew little about, but it didn't affect my enjoyment of the story. Wonder Woman: Warbringer is a wonderful addition to YA literature and, hopefully, Leigh Bardugo will continue Diana's story with more books in the future.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer is geared towards older teens and adults and does contain some mature language. The DC Icons series continues in January 2018 with Marie Lu's Batman: Nightwalker, followed by a Superman story from Matt de la Peña, and a Catwoman story by Sarah J. Maas.
Have you read Wonder Woman: Warbringer? What did you think?