Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Diana lives on Themyscira with her mother and her sister Amazons. Formed from clay, she isn't really considered a full fledged Amazon and looks for ways to prove herself. During a race she is sure to win due to her practice and alternate route, a boat explodes off the coast of the island, so Diana has to decide to the leave the lone survivor to die and finish the race or save the girl and throw the race. She finally decides to save the girl Alia, but after leaving her in a remote cave, earthquakes wrack the island and sickness comes for the Amazons for the first time since they settled there. Diana suspects that Alia's presence on the island is the reason, so she goes to the Oracle with an offering to see how she can fix her mistake. It leads to a quest to the modern human world where Diana can prove herself, protect her charge, and save the world if she succeeds.

The beginning of the novel establishes Themyscira, the Amazons, and Diana plus her origins. Themyscira is a utopian society populated by only women of all different nationalities and sexual preferences who have chosen to live there after rejecting the wartorn, violent world of man. Some of them a resentful of Diana because she doesn't have the experience and hasn't proven herself as an Amazon, yet receives preferential treatment as Queen Hippolyta's daughter. Although Tek, the most vocal about this subject, has a point, she resorts to pathetically insulting teenage Diana overtly and covertly at every turn. As a result, Diana has to hide her true feelings, brush off the poor treatment, feel like she doesn't belong, and strive to prove herself as capable as much as she can. When Alia lands on the island, the storms, disease, and earthquakes are shocking on such an idyllic island and fill Diana with guilt. The Oracle brings the timbre of ancient myths as a powerful, dangerous mystic who gives useful information if approached correctly.

Diana is thrown into the modern human world without being totally ignorant of their technology or modern sensibilities. The island is somehow aware of all the technological advances and human history, so Diana's gaps are in actual interactions in this unfamiliar world. She has knowledge of cars, helecopters, war, disease, etc, but it's completely different to hear the noise of the city, sit in a moving car, and dodge lethal bullets. What I love so much about her character, especially compared to the cinematic version of her, is that she defends herself physically and verbally. She throws clever barbs when needed and translates modern sensibilities through the lens of her experiences instead of looking at everything cluelessly. The biggest adjustment to our world is the ease with which we lie. She's so used to people being genuine that it shocks her and makes her cautious in the future. Her abilities are a mystery to her since she's never had to use them to actually protect herself before and she pushes her limits time and time again. Her journey to prove herself is understandable and blossoms into a genuine desire to protect humanity and their world.

Alia comes from an affluent family with a Greek father and a Louisianan mother. She tries to escape notice and keep to herself as a way to avoid how she's inevitably treated due to her skin color. She also somehow always finds conflict surrounding but not including her. Her status as Warbringer brings violence and chaos wherever she goes, completely involuntarily. Her very presence will cause the next worldwide war if she doesn't either die or bathe in the waters of Helen of Troy's resting place. Alia thinks Diana is insane and part of a cult before Diana's proved right, but they find common ground in both of their disparate experiences. Both want to be judged for their actions rather than things they have no control over like origins, money, family, or bloodline. Alia is much more sarcastic and funny than Diana and has a point of view more relatable to the reader. She doesn't have physical strength, but strength of will and interesting ways of thinking through situations with her science background. By the end of the book, she develops into someone unafraid of attention, willing to fight for her friends and what she believes in.

After seeing the Wonder Woman film, I was curious to see how this book fits into that lore. They prove to be in completely different universes and most of the changes are ones I would have liked to see in the movie. So much of this book is amazing from the natural character interactions to the crazy awesome minor characters like Alia's best friend Nim, eccentric clothign designer. I especially loved her unique point of view seeing the world's patterns and finding meaning in visual art plus her killer sense of humor. Some plot points didn't feel right to me even though it fit the theme. The villain in particular seemed to come out of nowhere, but the ending is satisfying. Wonder Woman: Warbringer is an action packed book with friendship, heart, and characters struggling to find their place in the world. I would love to see another Wonder Woman book by Leigh Bardugo because she fundamentally understands Diana and creates a fantastical world grounded in reality.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

No comments: