Review: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Review: Wonder Woman: WarbringerWonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1) by Leigh Bardugo
on August 31st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Source: From the publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

She will become a legend but first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning...
Diana is desperate to prove herself to her warrior sisters. But when the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law to save a mere mortal, Alia Keralis. With this single heroic act, Diana may have just doomed the world.
Alia is a Warbringer - a descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies, mortal and divine, determined to destroy or possess the Warbringer.
To save the world, they must stand side by side against the tide of war.

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★

I have to admit, I’m not much of a DC fangirl: I’ve never read any of the original comics, and my feelings on most of the DC movies are pretty lukewarm… But I loved the Wonder Woman film, and I liked Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series, so I was really excited for Warbringer.

Leigh Bardugo’s take on Wonder Woman sees a young Diana save Alia from drowning, only to discover that Alia is a Warbringer and Diana may have just doomed the world.  Desperate to prove herself as a hero, to put things right, and to prevent being exiled by her sisters for the crime of saving a mortal, Diana leaves Themyscira to try and break the Warbringer cycle.

“I am done being careful. I am done being quiet. Let them see me angry. Let them hear me wail at the top of my lungs.”

I had pretty high expectations for Wonder Woman, and sadly the book didn’t quite live up to those.  I liked the premise well enough, but the story felt very slow and I found the twist predictable.  Warbringer, despite being a teen book, felt very young to me; it has a definite Percy Jackson-esque feel, which isn’t a bad thing but wasn’t what I was expecting.  I didn’t feel the dangers and consequences were believably threatening, and the fact that the characters respond to trouble with giggly banter made it even harder to take seriously.

Bardugo’s writing was enjoyable, and the book is endlessly quotable.  The book is clearly trying to be Epic though, and occasionally those inspiring or kick-ass or feminist lines felt shoe-horned in.  I liked Diana and Alia, and I LOVED Nim. I wasn’t particularly bothered by either Jason or Theo.  I loved the diversity of the cast, and the mixtures of points of view we got, rather than everyone always agreeing and thinking the same way.  I never really got emotionally invested in the romances though, to be honest I think I’d have found a relationship between Diana and Nim (or even Alia) more believable than the ones we got!

All in all, Wonder Woman was a good, fun read, and a genuinely solid choice.  If you loved the Wonder Woman movie and want a superhero book with a diverse cast and lovely writing, you’ll enjoy it. You just might not love it, even if you’re expecting to.

One StarOne StarOne Star

Review: Shadow and Bone

Review: Shadow and BoneShadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Indigo on July 31st 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 308
Format: Paperback
Source: From my shelves
Goodreads

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance. Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and Laini Taylor.

I’m not quite sure when Shadow and Bone first came onto my radar, but I’ve also associated it with A Daughter of Smoke and Bone so I think it was probably about the same time (honestly, before I’d read either of them I kept mixing the two up in my head!).  For one reason or another though, while I’d heard great things, I just never got around to reading it.  This month, it won the TBR vote so there was no more putting it off, time to see what the fuss is all about!

I think part of the reason I never picked up Shadow and Bone was that I knew the romance was going to be a big part of it: I feel like all I heard before picking this up was praise for the Darkling, praise for Mal, and lots of swooning over the romance in general.  BUT I loved the idea of a Russian-inspired fantasy, and I’m so intrigued by Leigh’s new Six of Crows duology, and although that can be read alone, I’d rather start with her original trilogy first, which is why I popped it on the TBR vote.  It took 63% of the votes and a lot of people said they loved it, so I tried to go into this with an open-mind, and I was pleasantly surprised!

I liked Alina, her feistiness and sarcasm, as well as her determination to remain herself even when put into totally new surroundings.  I also liked Genya and I loved Botkin.  I’m intrigued by the Darkling, but towards the end of the book he seemed to become somewhat flat – I’m hoping this is deliberate, and he’s going to reveal his true complexity in the second book, but it was a little disappointing.  I also wasn’t sold on his and Alina’s relationship at any point, and Alina’s opinion of him just seemed too easily swayed.  This, I think is more due to her general lack of confidence, because I felt the same way about her relationship with Mal, but it was frustrating nonetheless: I occasionally just wanted to give her a good shake!

I was pretty engrossed in the story from the beginning, and it only took me a few days to read.  I loved seeing the Russian inspiration, which helps to give Shadow and Bone a unique feel amongst so many YA fantasy romances.  I also liked the inclusion of some of the darker elements, though it’s hard to comment on those without spoilers! The writing is smooth and let me get absorbed into the story quickly, and overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Shadow and Bone.  While the romance was a big part, I enjoyed the story and the world too, which helped it feel like fantasy with a romance, rather than romance with fantasy as an afterthought which I’d feared.  I still felt like Shadow and Bone was light-fantasy, rather than true fantasy, and while I liked it I didn’t love it.  I enjoyed it enough that I’ve already ordered myself a copy of Siege and Storm,  and I’m hoping for some more depth in later books, which could bump the series from one I liked to one I loved, but at the moment it won’t be taking a place on my favourites shelf.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star