Wonder Woman: Warbringer – Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo

 

TITLE: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo

SERIES: DC Icons, #1

RELEASED: August 28th, 2017; Random House Children’s Books

GENRE: Fantasy

AGE RANGE: YA

SYNOPSIS: Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

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“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.”

I’ve never been a Wonder Woman fan in my past (I was always more of a Batman type), so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, or whether or not I would enjoy it very much, but it came highly recommended by one of my best friends, and it’s Leigh Bardugo, which meant, if nothing else, I knew I’d like the writing in it. The beginning started off rather slow for me and I felt like I was trudging through the first 80-100 pages, which is why this was a 4-star read instead of 5. That said, the entire second half or so of this book was so much fun, and the ending won me over to Diana so much that now I feel like I urgently need a sequel to her story.

wwwsm

Amazon. Born of war, destined to be ruled by no one but herself.

→ Diana ←
Diana and I got off to a rocky start, honestly. In the first few chapters, she was such an inherently good person that she fell victim to the “so good they’re boring” trope, and I was starting to wonder what her appeal was. Thankfully, once they left Themyscira, Diana really came into her own as this unbelievably fiery, passionate, badass warrior, and I adored her from that moment on.

Their lives were violent, precarious, fragile, but they fought for them anyway, and held to the hope that their brief stay on this earth might count for something.

Despite being an immortal, Diana cares so strongly for the humans that she makes incredible sacrifices to help them along the way. I loved her protective nature and the ends she was willing to go to. Not only that, but her entire thought process and narrative throughout the story is just so enjoyable to read; you get such an inside view of her motivations, how pure her intentions are, and how much she wants to make the world a better place.

“I’m a daughter of Nemesis,” she said, “the goddess of divine retribution. You may want to think about how well I can hold a grudge.”

→ Alia ←
Alia, on the other hand, I loved from the beginning. She is sassy and incredibly bright, and the humor in her narrative is fantastic and genuine. She feels like a real person I could (and would) be friends with, despite being a Warbringer, and Leigh portrays her emotions beautifully: when Alia was proud, I was proud with her. When her heart ached, mine did, too. Through it all, I adored the fact that, despite being the mortal of the pair, she manages to somehow hold her own just as well as Diana does, in her own ways, and it never felt like she was being put in Diana’s shadow.

“Sister in battle, I am shield and blade to you. As I breathe, your enemies will know no sanctuary. While I live, your cause is mine.”

My favorite thing about both of these young women, though, is how much they grow to love one another. I adored their friendship so much, whether it was in their banter, or their promises to one another, or how passionately they both wanted to help the other succeed in their common goal. I know this book is about Wonder Woman, but really, it’s about Alia, just as much.

She’d chosen her soldiers. It was time to go to war.

→ war ←
Much like I would expect from a book about a superhero, this is, more than anything, an action book. While books with a lot of action aren’t always my cup of tea (as we all know, I’m a bigger fan of world- and character-building), WW:W reminded me that Leigh writes battle scenes beautifully. Many authors say that writing a fight scene is one of the toughest things to do well, and I would believe it, because I rarely see them executed as flawlessly as Leigh’s. These scenes are fluid, easy to follow, and descriptive enough that I found myself feeling like I was watching them all play out right before my eyes.

A different kind of knight, one who’d chosen to protect the girl the world wanted to destroy; one born to slay dragons, but maybe to befriend them, too.

→ mythology ←
Of course, this story isn’t all action – there’s a tremendous amount of lore and mythology woven into the story and the characters, especially when nearing the end of the book. I don’t remember all the details, but as a child, I used to love staying up long past my bedtime, poring through my aunt’s illustrated mythology books, reading the stories over and over again. Seeing the cameos of so many of those classic beings, and being reminded of their origin stories, was such a wonderful experience that I didn’t expect to be granted so much of in this book, and it made me love Leigh even more for taking the time to be so inclusive.

When had she stopped being a child? The first time a guy had whistled at her out of a car window when she was walking to school?

→ representation & feminism ←
Finally, more than anything else in this story, I loved how feminist its values were, and how inclusive the cast was. We had Diana’s stories of how the Amazon women ranged from heterosexual, to bisexual, to lesbian, to asexual, and anything in between. We had Alia’s best friend, Nim, who was the perfect little Indian, plus-size bi girl (and who I loved to bits). There’s Alia and her brother, these beautiful biracial black/Greek siblings, and their friend Theo, a Brazilian teen who’s downright hysterical (if not slightly obnoxious at times). It felt like this book was positively teeming with normalized diversity and feminism, and I loved that so, so much.

“If you cannot bear our pain, you are not fit to carry our strength.”

→ final thoughts ←
All in all, this book wasn’t perfect for me – it had some pacing issues and a slow start, which is why I dropped it down to 4 stars. That said, it was still vastly enjoyable and I would recommend it if you like fantasy novels with a lot of action elements, or if you’re a mythology geek, or if you just like superheroes and/or Leigh Bardugo’s impeccable writing style.

Buddy read with Melanie! 💕

4flakes

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18 thoughts on “Wonder Woman: Warbringer – Leigh Bardugo

  1. Ellyn says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed this, I hope to get to it soon! I’ve never been a WW fan, I’ve always been more of a Batman fan like you, but I’m hoping this will make me a fan of Diana! ❤️
    Have you read the Batman installation in this series?

    Like

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