I’m somehow getting incredibly lucky with all of the great books that I’ve been reading lately. To be honest, I hadn’t expected this one to become one of my favorite books, mostly because I really didn’t know much about Wonder Woman going into this – then again, I’ve just recently started falling in love with superheros, plus with how amazingly well this book was written, how could I not love it, right?
While I haven’t read any other books by Leigh Bardugo (yes, I have all of her other books, but I haven’t read them yet. I know, I must be crazy not to have), I saw nothing but really awesome reviews for this book and I wanted to read it. While I typically stay away from really hyped up books because I never really love them as much as I hope I will, this is one of those times where I kind of threw all caution to the wind and bought this one, and read it as soon as it came in.
First off, that cover is freaking gorgeous.
Second? The story is freaking amazing.
This is probably one of the best books that I have ever read, and I loved it so much I actually started reading it again as soon as I finished the first time around.
The origin story created for Wonder Woman in this book was so amazingly done that I honestly can’t imagine not having read this, now.
“You dance differently when you know you won’t live forever.”
Diana is an immortal from the island of Themyscira, where she is part of a women’s only community known as the Amazons. They are secret from the outside world, and one of the biggest rules that Diana and her sisters and friends are to follow is that no matter what, they may not bring mortals onto the island. It is a big rule, and Diana is about to break it.
During a race, Diana notices an explosion on a ship on the coast of her island, and finds herself dropping out of the race in order to help survivors – which it turns out, there is only one – Alia. Alia is a teenage girl who was on board an expedition with some of her peers and her teachers, and Diana brings her back to the island and hides her in a cave while she consults the Oracle about what to do. In that time, the island starts to suffer the effects of a human being brought onto it, and both Alia and the island (as well as some of the women on the island) begin to fall ill and feel the effects of what Diana has done, even though none of the others are sure what exactly it is that is happening.
“‘Your expedition wasn’t attacked because of your parents’ work. You are being hunted.’
‘Hunted,’ Alia said flatly. ‘For my silky pelt?’
‘Because you are haptandra.’
When Diana learns what Alia is thanks to the Oracle, she vows to get her off the island and to safety. Alia is a Warbringer – a powerful person who can cause anger, fighting, and wars to break out, especially if she isn’t “cured” or killed by a certain time – in fact, she can bring about total destruction. While Alia doesn’t believe this, she entertains the fact that she must accompany Diana to a special spring in Greece and bathe in its waters so that she can be cured. Yet, when Diana uses her Heartstone to imagine the two of them leaving the island and heading for Greece, she is surprised to find that Alia was thinking of her home in New York, which is where they end up.
From New York, they must try and find their way to Greece in order to help Alia and cure her of the Warbringer destiny she was born with. When Alia’s brother, Jason, shows up, he isn’t interested in having Alia go to Greece at all, but with the girls’ constant insistance that they go, he finally relents, and together with other friends Theo and Nim, the five of them start off on a trip that will take them to Greece.
“‘We can’t help the way we’re born. We can’t help what we are, only what life we choose to make for ourselves.'”
When the five of them arrive in Greece, they work hard against outside forces to get to the spring, but eventually they discover inside forces and that there is evil among them that is trying to prevent getting Alia to the spring in time to stop all war.
I fell in love with Diana’s character from the very first chapter of this book. She was dedicated, she was an outcast on her island, and she was loyal to someone she made a promise to, even if there was a risk that she would be exiled from the island that was her home. Since she lives on an island where there are no outside forms of technology such as cell phones, and she doesn’t understand the humorous meaning behind the term “kick their ass” and instead takes it literally, it’s amazing watching her learn all of these things that we take for granted every single day. Leigh Bardugo really did a fantastic job writing her character. The amount of development that Diana goes through in this book is incredible. It’s not just Diana, either – the other characters in this book change and grow and really make this stand out from other books in its genre for that fact alone, without even taking the amazing world building, story lines, or antagonists into question.
The world building in this book is among the best that I have ever seen in a fantasy novel. The way the author describes the waves crashing up on the rocks on Diana’s home island of Themyscira, to the way she describes the area in Greece and even how she talks about New York, I have honestly never seen such amazing world building in a novel like this before. I would recommend this book for the world building alone, if I am being totally sincere.
Even Alia, Jason, Nim, and Theo were all fleshed out and had different personalities that brought so many new things to the story line. I never once felt bored reading about these characters, and over time, I felt like they became very dear to me as the reader.
I loved the twist at the end – to be honest, I never would have seen that coming and I had no idea it was going to get so dark. It was a really great and fitting ending to the novel, and I can’t think of a way it could have went any better.
If you are a fan of fantasy, superheroes, or are looking to check out the new series of DC Icons, this is such a great start. While superhero novels aren’t really my cup of tea (usually), I was so blown out of the water by Wonder Woman: Warbringer that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to pick it up and read it again. As someone who has never gotten into Wonder Woman, I feel like this novel was a total game changer for me.