Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

I nearly wept for joy when I saw that Margaret Stohl's Black Widow: Forever Red was going to exist. Natasha Romanoff is one of my favorite fictional characters. Now she's going to be in a YA novel--my favorite genre?! Life couldn't get any better!

Well... It could, a bit.

Natasha's characterization is... unsteady. She flips back and forth between arctic and maternal at a dizzying pace. I think that might have been meant to convey internal conflict, but it just comes off as inconsistent, in my opinion. Her characterization, to me, is not as bad as Tony Stark's, however. In the MCU, Tony is fascinating, as much as he's a jerk: crackling with humor and impudence, thinly layered over trauma and insecurity. In this book, he sounded like he was trying to be funny but didn't quite have the wit to pull it off. And the damage that's always just under the surface? Nowhere to be seen.

And as for the original characters, teenagers Ava and Alex: Tropes. Tropes everywhere. It's not all bad, and they have their moments of being likeable, but there wasn't anything really original about them, nothing I haven't seen done dozens of times. Seemingly ordinary teenagers have a super-special suppressed past that comes roaring back in hidden memories! They're drawn together and feel like soulmates even though they don't know why! INSTA-LOVE!

Spoilers for this section (highlight to reveal): A character dies in the end (there are hints of this all through the book), and hir relationship to another character means that we should care about hir a lot, but I just... Didn't. I finished the book and went, "Hmm. Okay. Well, zie ain't gettin' any deader." Which tells you something about my lack of emotional connection to hir and everyone else.


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