Title: Wonder Woman: Warbringer
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult, Superheroes, Sci-Fi
Page Count: 369
Publisher: Random House
Notable Notables: POC characters, LGBTQ+ character, Feminism, Origin Retelling
Recommended Readers: Fans of Diverse Characters, DC Comics/Wonder Woman fans
When I found out my favorite YA author was writing not only a DC Comics book but a Wonder Woman book, a single tear rolled down my face, and I said, “For so long I give, and now I get to receive.”
And receive, I did. Completely separate from the film that debuted earlier this year, Wonder Woman: Warbringer is another origin story for Diana of Themyscira, one that takes place even before she’s considered a true Amazon like the rest of her people but set in our modern time. Diana is considered separate from the rest of the Amazons because she was the only one actually born on their hidden, secluded island; she didn’t earn her way like the rest of them did, these women warriors who evoked the names of their female goddesses and deities before dying in battle.
As Diana seeks to prove herself and find glory, she glimpses a shipwreck beyond the boundary of her island and chooses to rescue its sole survivor, a girl named Alia who is a Warbringer, a descendant of Helen of Troy. Her blood is doomed to cause havoc and bloodshed wherever she goes unless she is killed—but Diana chooses a different path.
Traveling from Themyscira, the two protagonists slowly learn to rely on each other, journeying through the streets of New York City and Greece to find the cure for Alia’s bloodline. Joining them are a diverse cast of characters—Alia’s best friend, Nim; Alia’s crush, Theo; and her brother, Jason.
What I love about this book is that the entire main cast of characters are all people of color and minorities. Alia and Jason’s parents were black and Greek, and though they are the heirs to the profitable Keralis Labs, Alia does bring up how she and Jason are immediately perceived by some for their skin color. Theo, who’s Brazilian, is similarly judged because he’s seen as wasting his intellect and potential. Nim is overweight, Indian, and bisexual with a preference for women but is afraid to come out to her family.
All of these characters play off each other well, their relationships and conversations are interesting, and they each feel like fully-formed characters, not stereotypes. How they all clash and mesh with Diana is enjoyable to read, and they all go through their own character arcs, some in the forefront of the story while others occur more in the background. (Alia’s was my favorite, but Jason’s was the one that was most surprising.)
At its heart, this is a coming-of-age story, for both Diana and Alia. As enemies close in around them, Diana learns what the path of a true hero and Amazon entails. Her growth is as interesting to watch as Alia’s, and all her action moments are amazing. I could picture this book like it really was a film. For Alia, we get to watch her wrestle with who she is as a host of the Warbringer bloodline and who she wants to become without it. It’s through Alia that Diana recognizes mortals for their resilience, bravery, and heart rather than as the terrible warmongers Diana’s mother has resigned them all to be.
Other bonuses about Wonder Woman: Warbringer are the larger glimpses we get of Themyscira and Amazon culture, Diana being savage to some dudebros on the subway, and inappropriate uses of the Lasso of Truth. I truly cannot recommend this one enough!