Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The cultural zeitgeist right now demands a Black Widow movie, but right now we might just be settling on a YA book, and that's okay. What's even more okay is how good this book is on a whole, and how it straddles YA without actually dumbing down the characters or the story in any significant way.
If you've seen Age of Ultron, you get an idea of Black Widow's origin as master assassin, and this book follows a couple kids on a similar trajectory, caught between the evil organization in charge and SHIELD itself. A lot of Marvel favorites make an appearance, and the story is basically set up like a Marvel movie. Long and short, you know what you're getting.
What works is that the pace is very similar to the Marvel structure, with some beginning exposition, the problem being established in the middle, and a very action-packed finale. Stohl in particular was really able to structure the narrative well in this regard, both in terms of keeping the action up while not sacrificing the story itself. If there's a downside, it's that the longer exposition at the start does feel somewhat draggy at times, and in a book that features a character that should give the promise of action, it is a bit of a mark against it.
Overall, though, we seem to be hitting a good stride (finally) on comic characters in prose stories. Here's hoping this is the first of many Marvel pieces in particular.
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