I love Leigh Bardugo- I really do. But I don't love this book. Maybe Bardugo was too constrained by the comic book mythology and the weighty history of Diana's background to infuse her typical literary savvy, but Warbringer absolutely did not bring the thunder she brings to her original books.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer is the first in a series of DC Icon books, presumably a series capitalizing off of (the somewhat limited) success of their silver screen counterparts.
Warbringer tells the story of a young Diana - an Amazon who doesn't quite fit in on her warrior island of Themyscira. The Amazons are female warriors who died on the battlefield and were reborn on the island by the grace of the Greek gods. Diana was made by her mother, and not battle-tested in the human realm.
Much of Diana's journey is spent learning to believe in herself and her strength as she races to keep the human world from falling into chaos and war. After Diana saves a shipwreck victim, a young girl named Alia, off the coast of Themyscira, Diana learns that the girl she saved is a descendant of Helen of Troy, and is destined to cause world war when she turns 18.
Diana spends the rest of the book with Alia and her group of ragtag friends racing against the clock to break Alia's bloodline curse. Along the way, the gods of chaos and strife regularly possess Alia's friends - and a betrayal from someone close to Diana almost plunges the world into darkness. In the end, a battle-tested Diana reunites with her sisters, assured of her rightful spot among the Amazons.
I found myself wanting to skim nearly every chapter. The scenes on Themyscira dragged - I dredged through that portion of the book and didn't get hardly any character development out of Diana. Once the characters are off the island, the book becomes more frustrating because the characters dally around New York in a series of dull scenes when the clock is ticking down to Alia's birthday.
This book is a beat-the-clock adventure, but most of it is spent wasted away on island beaches or fancy parties. The blips of action are too fast-paced and poorly illustrated to follow, and I found myself not caring about any of the main characters. Their concerns, reactions, and relationships didn't feel realistic. That, coupled with a stale plot encumbered by weighty Greek mythology, made for a book that felt like Herculean work to pick up.
The only portions of the book I did enjoy were the parts where the Greek gods were actively influencing Alia's friends. Other than that unique detail, nothing was original or inviting about this novel. Bardugo failed to capture the magnetic spirit of a young Diana, and was further weighted down by a cast of bland characters and an anxiety-inducing homework assignment deadline of a plot. Warbringer crumbled under my heavy expectations for Bardugo and for Diana's character.