Let me preface this with a very unpopular opinion, and just get it out of the way right now: I absolutely *hated* the most recent Wonder Woman film (my review of it is here, if you care). So I didn’t have super high expectations for this book. But I see it advertised on end caps every time I go to Barnes and Noble, and I loved Wonder Woman when I was three, so… I downloaded the sample. It was surprisingly engaging, and the ratings were super high, so I gave it a listen.
To my surprise, in the novel, Diana was a much more well-rounded and believable character—even an underdog among the Amazons. She had a good back story, and a need to prove herself which drove her choices to try to rid the humans of the curse of the Warbringer (carried by a girl named Aliyah, of Helen of Troy’s bloodline). While she’s incredibly strong, of course, the Diana of the novel was not the scantily clad babe kicking the crap out of hoards of armed men in slo-mo. She still had the fish-out-of-water sequence that she had in the film when she enters the human realm, but this time she is in modern day New York, not in historical WWII Britain. While I found the film’s sequence irritating because most of it centered on Diana shopping for clothes that emphasize her hotness and men ogling her, in the novel she is simply innocent and trying to understand the new world in which she suddenly finds herself. In the novel, her strength is believable. I actually root for her.
One surprise in this YA novel was the paucity of romance. There is some, but it’s very minor—and actually, for a novel about a superhuman immortal woman, I liked that. The idea of her falling in love with a normal guy just didn’t work for me. The story was largely a buddy novel, emphasizing the sisterly bond between Diana and Aliyah, and then also their friends Nim and Theo and Aliyah’s brother Jason. For the most part, I liked their dynamics, although I thought some of the snarky comments were a little forced. My biggest complaint about the story was the twist at the end—I won’t spoil it, but honestly, I didn’t see it coming because the story didn’t support it. It felt like it happened just because there needed to be a twist. But the story was still very entertaining, far more than I expected it to be… particularly considering the over-saturation of the American entertainment market with comic book retellings.
My rating: ****