Also by this author: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1), Crown of Midnight, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3), A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1), The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-#0.5)
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on August 7, 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384 •Format: Hardcover •Source: Purchased
Two years after escaping Gotham City's slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.
Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing's undoing.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit over the superhero trend that’s pretty much taken over all forms of media right now, especially books and movies. I’m just really not a huge fan and what I know about the comic book worlds are bits and pieces I’ve picked up from Max or the small handful of superhero movies I’ve seen. However, when it was announced that Sarah J Maas would be writing the Catwoman novel as a part of the DC Icons series, I was intrigued. I adore Maas (yes, unapologetic-ally, thank you very much) and Catwoman is a figure that’s always intrigued me, being morally grey and not quite falling nicely into the hero or villain categories. I decided it was worth a pre-order and found myself enthralled with Maas’ version of Gotham City.
The novel starts out with Selina Kyle pre-Catwoman, fleshing out her backstory as an older sister desperately trying to care for her sister who is terminally ill with Cystic Fibrosis. Selina is desperate and vulnerable but resilient and determined, and this exposed, softer side of Selina is not one that I believe is featured that often in comic book canon. The second part of the book (which is a majority of the story) takes place a few years later after Selina brokers a deal to save her sister and herself from being taken into custody by child protection services, and is more representative of the Catwoman most people probably know (though with Maas’ own unique spin of course).
While I can’t mention to many specifics without spoilers, I have to admit I adored a lot of things Maas added into Selina’s story, and how she wove other elements of the Batman/Gotham City universe into Selina’s story View Spoiler »Like Talia Al Ghul and the League of Assassins « Hide Spoiler It was pretty flawlessly done and integrated in a way that made sense. Maas also played on the Gotham City Sirens story line (a real alliance from the comics) and featured iconic villains Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn who stole the show in their own ways (I need spinoff novels for them ASAP). There was also a lot of diverse representation compared to Maas previous works, and it didn’t feel forced or inauthentic (there’s a really genuine and invested bisexual relationship featured in the novel, as well as non-white love interest for the protagonist). Selina also felt toned down from Maas other protagonists- while she definitely had some swagger and sass, she felt more like a teenager than Aelin or Feyre, and more cognizant the consequences of her actions than Maas’ other fantasy characters. It was also a treat to see Maas write in a semi-contemporary world, where characters had things like cell phones and cars, and urban fantasy/sci fi seems like it is a natural fit for her writing style!
What prevented this novel from being 5 stars for me, however, was the romance. Of course I anticipated the book having a romance because it’s pretty standard in YA (and Maas novels), however I just wasn’t invested in it at ALL. This is because a) Selina had so much other important stuff going on that it seemed frivolous for her to have time for a romance, and b) the romantic interest, Luke Fox (aka Batwing) was pretty underwhelming. Literally he spends most of the novel being outmaneuvered by the Gotham City Sirens and Bruce Wayne (who is conveniently out of town because let’s be real, Catwoman would have never gotten away with her shenanigans had he been around) has to call/text him several times throughout the book to be like “Everything under control?” because Gotham City is so obviously going to pieces under his protection. He’s a nice guy (and diverse) but just didn’t seem like he would really be the type to keep up with Catwoman OR Selina. Also, the romance by no means overwhelms the book, but if it had been missing it also would not have mattered one bit or taken anything away from the novel (at least for me).
I was a little concerned that Maas would be able to squeeze in character development, world building, and major plot points in a stand alone novel since she’s notorious for writing (long) series, however I shouldn’t have worried because the pacing was great and the overall plot was phenomenal, with a pretty intense climax that brought in one of the most notorious comic book characters: the Joker himself. Maas outdid herself with her Joker scenes and his appearance (though rather brief) was really chilling and worthy of its own spinoff (spinoffs for everyone!!) Honestly if it were up to me, I’d give Maas exclusive rights to the YA writing of Gotham City.
Overall: If Catwoman wasn’t already one of my favorite DC characters before, she certainly is now. Reading Maas’ writing in a urban fantasy setting was SUCH a treat, and it’s reaffirmed why I love her as an author!