Catwoman by Sarah J Maas | A Departure from SJM’s Previous Works

Posted September 10, 2018 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Books, Reviews / 9 Comments

Catwoman by Sarah J Maas | A Departure from SJM’s Previous WorksCatwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3) by Sarah J. Maas
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), Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7), House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1), A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4), House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City, #2)
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on August 7, 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384 •Format: HardcoverSource: 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 » 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!


9 responses to “Catwoman by Sarah J Maas | A Departure from SJM’s Previous Works

  1. This sounds great! The idea of a really well done YA take on Catwoman definitely appeals tome- I’ve never read Maas- but I love that Poison Ivy and HQ are in this! And The Joker showing up, and the ending being well done, makes me want to read it even more! I’m not a huge DC fan but I do like Harley Quinn and catwoman, so I may have to get this. Nice review!

  2. I’m so glad you reviewed this, and what a great review it is too!

    I’ve been debating whether to give this a go. I’ve also become a big Maas fan (although I haven’t tried her Court series yet).

    I’ve always felt very meh about superheroes, I can take or leave any superhero movies and I normally find I come away from watching feeling underwhelmed – the exception to this rule is X Men, Batman, and the Catwomen movie that everyone on the planet (including Hallie Berry) think is horrendous yet for some reason I LOVE. Teen me gobbled up seeing a female on the screen that was so badass, got to wear cool outfits, and had a name associated with my favourite pet. 😀 Hathaway’s portray was also fun but in a different way.

    Like you, I don’t follow the comics so my experience of the DC and Marvel universes are basic and pretty patchy. Considering this, I wasn’t sure if I would be the target audience for this book.

    It sounds like good fun though and that Maas has made it quite accessible, so I might have to give it a whirl!

    Becky (Blogs of a Bookaholic) recently posted: Book Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon
    • If you like Catwoman in general I think this will be a fun read for you! I’ll admit I never saw the Halle Barry movie (though have heard its less than stellar reviews lol) but I did love Anne Hathaway’s portrayal, and I really, really loved what Sarah did with the character and how well written the secondary characters were (including the joker!!) I think it was also easy to follow along the story even without a super hero background (though I’ll admit I did have Max here to ask any questions I had that popped up!)

  3. I got this in a book box and I wasn’t certain I want to read. Me and SJM have a love/hate relationship. The hype makes me read her books and I am addicted and then she does something in a series which makes me go ‘seriously’ and I throw the book across the room and vow to abandon the series… and then compulsively read all spoilers start rereading the series and repeat the whole process. It’s terrible so when I saw she was writing the Catwoman book I was all kinds of wary because of reasons. Your review makes me think maybe this is worth a shot, though. I was going to immediately but it in the swap/donate pile but maybe I’ll wait and read it first.

    Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity recently posted: Sunday Summary // 02.09.2018
    • I am a really big SJM fan and while I’ll admit this book is very different from ANY of her other books (not just in genre but in tone) and I think if you enjoy her writing without some of the crazy plot twists/elements/romances this could be a good way to ease back into SJM- it’s pretty mild for her!

  4. Okay, so I have had this on my TBR list since I read Warbringer. I’ve never been much into superheroes or Maas, for that matter, but I love the the idea of getting to see the iconic supers (i.e. Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Catwoman, etc) as teenagers. I’ve never gotten around to reading a Maas book (gasp, I know), but this one looks like a great place to start. Thanks for the lovely review!

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