If this novel were about, say, Donna Troy, I would be all in. It’s a fun exploration of the Amazon myth, about a young Amazon who doesn’t feel she quite belongs on Themyscira, who feels like her mother spends more time being queen than being mom, who sets out to prove herself and maybe save the entire world in the process. It travels from Themyscira to modern-day New York City to a bloody showdown in Greece, blending ancient mythology with all too human hijinks and foibles. Some of the characters are brattier than others, but overall it’s a great coming-of-age tale that emphasizes the power of friendship and belief.
What it is not is a Wonder Woman story. For starters, it has us believe Diana is a teenager in 2017 and that’s just a hell nope. This book is in no way, shape or form canon, right? Because I can be happily flexible with timelines and such (having been a comics fan for over three decades now, I have to be) but this book just throws a middle finger at everything ever written on the subject of Diana’s chronology. And while I was reluctantly okay with this version of Themyscira being a global women’s Valhalla (it’s admittedly a cool concept but kinda negates the whole “outsiders bad!” vibe: granted, the newcomers are “reborn” as Amazons but eeeeeeh, I thought the near-hysterical xenophobia was overdone considering this new origin story,) I did not like the introduction of Tek or the idea that there were Amazons so small-minded as to belittle Diana’s birth (and that Hippolyta let them get away with it for years!) If anything, I could see Amazons looking at Donna Troy and being “for real, you’re part of the royal family now?” and getting all snarky about it, but I cannot see them getting away with the open hostility Leigh Bardugo has them displaying to an actual Amazonian princess born and raised on the island, pre- or post-52 origin. And may I add here for the thousandth time how much I haaaaaaaate the new origin story, that DC then used for the movie, but at least they’re consistent in their wretched canon, which is why I’m hoping this book is like an alternate dimension Wonder Woman.
I was also less than thrilled at the way Diana’s powers were depicted, particularly one bit where she’s eviscerated but heals, and I thought Alia was way more of a brat than she needed to be, but I really enjoyed Nim and Theo, and I’m glad Ms Bardugo went the way she did with the story overall. I just didn’t enjoy this as a Wonder Woman story at all. It doesn’t fit anywhere in the greater body of Wonder Woman stories and feels pretty disrespectful of all the groundwork laid before it. It would have been a thousand times more fun to read if it had been about any other Amazon than Diana.