My lovely bitchin' readers, fear not. This review is spoiler free. I wanted to make it so that I could spread my love of Wonder Woman: Warbringer to all, even those who have not yet read the book.
You can also find my review on Goodreads.
So this is it. I sit here at my computer after having completed Leigh's Wonder Woman: Warbringer and I now have to go on with life. I'll go, and go, and go, and I'll live. However, I feel changed. I've been wanting to read this book terribly since it was announced that Leigh--mo'fo'-ing LEIGH BARDUGO--was writing a Wonder Woman book, and then the Wonder Woman movie was released...To say I've had a dream fulfilled by reading this ARC by an author I already love is an understatement. This has probably been my favorite book of the year, surpassing my love of S. Jae-Jones's Wintersong, Katharine McGee's The Thousandth Floor and The Dazzling Heights, Scott Reintgen's Nyxia, Sarah Tolcser's Song of the Current, Keira Drake's second round of ARCs for The Continent, Makiia Lucier's A Death-Struck Year, and Ruta Sepetys's Salt to the Sea. In general I have had an awesome reading year, more than 50% of the books having left me sated or in a book-hangover--but Wonder Woman: Warbringer tops them all. Hands down, without a doubt, without a second of hesitation, I can say this will probably be my favorite book for all of 2017.
You have characters you come to admire, characters you invest your emotions into, characters that progress for the good and the bad (not everyone can be the hero, ya know?). You have places like New York City, areas of Greece, and Themyscira--both real and mythological--that come to life. You have on point pacing. You have well wrought action and adventure. You have plot twists and villains you don't/can't/will never anticipate. You have a kind of sisterhood in this book that you only glimpse in reality. You have well researched and incorporated mythology. Leigh sets the scene, describes this world, and you cannot help but seeand experience it. I found myself sucked into the story only to resurface when outside stimuli (ahem: significant other, dog, or job) forced me to return to reality.
My two favorite aspects of this book were the humor and the life truths. The humor--oh man, the humor had me laughing so hard at moments, and it was consistently there. I would say every handful of pages or so there was some interaction or quip that had me chuckling or guffawing. I even read some of them to my man and he couldn't help but laugh too.
"What is that thing?" Alia asked, pointing to a staff topped by a giant claw.
"A zhua. It's used for robbing a mounted opponent of her shield."
"It looks like the world's deadliest mop."
Diana considered it. "Perhaps you can use it to scare the floor clean." (62)
Diana is a fierce deadpan joker and she cannot even help it. Just like with the recent movie, Diana is naive and ignorant of certain aspects of the world, not to mention extremely literal, which makes for some of the most hilarious moments. (Even funnier if you imagine someone in reality saying these things, LOL.)
"I guess I--" Alia began. A bicycle whirred past them and Diana yanked her from its path.
"Jerk!" Alia yelled after him.
The bicyclist glanced back once and held up his middle finger.
"Is he an enemy?" Diana asked.
"No, he's a New Yorker. Let's sit. I need to think." (87)
"Whatever," said Alia. "Shotgun!"
Diana seized Alia and slammed her to the ground, shoving her body beneath the car for cover. She rose with bracelets raised, ready for the onslaught, but the others were just standing there staring.
"Um, Diana," said Alia, peeking out from beneath the Fiat. "It's just a saying." (247)
Even the other characters had some of the greatest lines, lending to a great balance of humor among them.
"And you're the guy who got drunk on eggnog last Christmas and danced to 'Turn the Beat Around' in Aunt Rachel's wig, so stop acting like you're in charge."
"We agree not to mention that ever again," Jason whispered furiously. (127)
^^^^That is legit one of my favorite moments, because I've witnessed something similar to this happen to others and to myself a few times.
"You dance differently when you know you won't live forever." (6)
With eternity before them, and strength, health, and never-ending military training and mental training (need to have a noggin of knowledge), there is nothing that drives the Amazons to do as if life were ending any moment. This is a line I am taking to heart, because it reveals the urgency that comes with mortality and a finite number of years to live. One will act different when they know an end is coming, but for the Amazons they do not have such limits.
"Perhaps you should think of it as armor," suggested Diana. "When a warrior readies herself for battle, she doesn't just worry about practicality." (154)
Truth! Think about it: even when you get ready for an interview, a night out on the town, to see family, a date--for all of these instances you choose articles of clothing that portray who you are while also portraying how you want to be seen. Yes, you want your clothing to serve a practical purpose, but you also want to choose the clothing carefully to create an image. For an interview you want to look like you are meant to be a part of that company and can take care of business, so you look well put together and keep everything refined. For a night out on the town, bring on those clothes that emphasize this area and that area of your body. Ooh la la! To see family or to go on a date, you might keep it this way or that way--all depending on how you want to portray you.
"Because the whole world loves to tell us what we can't do, that we aren't good enough. The people in your own house should be on your side. It's the people who never learn the word impossible who make history, because they're the ones who keep trying." (168)
This is said by Nim, Alia's best friend, and I wish she were a real person I could hug. This is something I want expressed to so many people. The idea of impossible gets into so many people's heads and makes them feel like there is a limit to what they can do and accomplish. But, like Nim pointed out, if that idea isn't in your head it cannot prevent you from progressing further and further. From here on out I want to stricken this word from my lexicon. Seriously though, I need to. I have a YA sci-fi book I want to write and I've been scared because deep down I feel it is impossible. Obviously Iam holding myself back, and so many other people do as well.
Beautiful, exquisite writing:
Sweet, waxy plumeria twined around its columns, and its balustrade was marked by potted orange trees that drew the gossipy buzz of bees and hummingbirds. (24)
But Hippolyta was sweeping out of her chambers. Lamplight sparked off the gold in her armor. The earth shook, but somehow her steps did not falter, as if her very stride declared, "I am a queen and an Amazon; you are wise to tremble." (33)
My overall thoughts: I love this book and would love to give it a 1,000 bitchin' stars. Unfortunately, 5 bitchin' stars is as high as I can go. I have emptied several tab dispensers marking all my favorite moments and lines, and I could honestly give you several other instances that blew my mind and took my breath away at the same time.