It has been a summer for the Amazons to be sure. Wonder Woman was enormously successful at the box office, and though it’s already pumpkin spice season, the Wonder Woman hype continues with Leigh Bardugo’s new book, Wonder Woman: Warbringer.
DC put together a team of young adult writers for the DC Icons series, and Wonder Woman: Warbringer is the first release out of the series. Written by Leigh Bardugo of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, Warbringer is a perfect combination of YA literature meets popular comic book character.
YA Done Right
The purpose of young adult literature is to help its readers navigate who they are in relation to the rest of the world. Bardugo’s constructed world allows its characters to do this regardless of if they’re on an Amazonian island or at a fancy gala in NYC. The Diana of this novel is a younger one who has yet to come into her full powers and who’s struggling with how to fit in with the other Amazons when she is the only one who hasn’t been battle-tested. Similarly, the other protagonist/narrator of this story is Alia Keralis, a nerdy bi-racial teenager whose family money, among other factors, makes it difficult for her to maintain friendships. Diana and Alia’s journeys in this novel are fast-paced while still developing the theme of coming into one’s powers. Basically, it’s what every young person needs to read.
Details Done Right
Certain details in the novel made it clear that Bardugo did at least some reading on Amazon myths. Firstly, trousers were worn by Queen Hippolyta and Diana at various times in the story. According to Adrienne Mayor’s book The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World, the Amazons were credited by the Ancient Greeks as inventors of the trousers. Trousers were necessary for a nomad culture that relied on horses. The Amazon myths are in fact based on a real culture: the Scythians of the steppes near the Black Sea. Diana notes at one point that her mother, the queen, loves the Themyscrian grasslands because it reminds her of the steppes and the life she had before the island. It’s little Amazonian details like these that make a Wonder Woman fan appreciate this novel even more.
Inclusivity Done Right
There are several characters that you’re introduced to once Diana leaves the island: a queer Indian girl, a gangly Hispanic gamer guy, and Alia’s older brother Jason who, like her, is also half black and half Greek. Race and sexuality are markers of how one is different, especially in today’s political climate and especially at the age of these characters. However, compared to someone like Diana, who doesn’t know what a cell phone is and can bench press a car, the secondary characters are the ones you can more easily identify with. That’s not to say that no one can identify with Diana, but it’s refreshing to see diversity in these superhero stories. The friendships and interactions between all of the characters aren’t forced and are believable. Young readers can identify with any one of them.
This book has other YA tropes, such as kissing and numerous mentions of someone’s dimples, but it is crafted in a way that still empowers the characters. Part of being a young adult is working through those hormones and feelings of insecurity, and Wonder Woman: Warbringer can help you that process.
The next book in the DC Icons series is Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu of the Legend series which is scheduled to come out January 2, 2018.
If you’ve read or are planning to read any of the DC Icons books, let us know in the comments!
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