Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more books–19 of them, actually. Focusing so much on writing has taken me away from one of my favorite pastimes ever invented, so I’ve taken the Goodreads 2016 reading challenge with the hope that I’ll follow through. Now that I know how valuable reviews are to authors, my other goal is to write them for all the new books I read. Hopefully that will hold me accountable 😉
Now on to the good stuff:
Synopsis: Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy…
Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.
Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.
When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…
Black Widow: Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.
My thoughts: As a hardcore MCU fan, I was both ecstatic and terrified for this book. After all, Natasha Romanoff is one of the best female characters ever, in my opinion, and I was so scared that any author would get her character wrong. Thankfully, Margaret Stohl pulled through on that front. I imagined Scarlett Johansson in every scene and could almost hear her voice as she spoke. It was a nice look into the storm behind the pretty face that the movies only offer a glimpse of and I felt it did the amazing actress and character justice.
Ava was a wild card for me, as I didn’t expect that the novel would focus so much on her, but eventually I understood why she was such a key part. At first I was annoyed because I’d expected a Black Widow story but by the end I saw that maybe Ava’s and Black Widow’s story were one in the same. While I mostly liked Ava, something about her greatly annoyed me at times and I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe too much of an attitude? Overall though, I thought she was cool and entertaining and proved to be a great counterpart to Natasha and her story.
As for Alex, I adored him. Completely. His character was well-written and believable: not the perfect hunk but not the complete clumsy nerd that somehow charms the girl. A good mix. Flawed but wonderful. I loved him. However, while the relationship between Ava and him was awesome, it moved waaaaaay too fast. Blah. For claiming to need no one in the world, Ava was pretty comfortable with Alex holding her hand and poking her in the ribs all the time pretty fast. I know they had a ‘connection’ but come on. It’s a good thing I was rooting for them so much or else it would’ve ruined it for me.
As for the plot, it was very fast-paced (maybe a little too much at times) but truly reflected the Marvel Universe. I loved the cameos from other favorite characters and how integrated everything was, making it feel liked it really belonged in MCU. However, I was confused about the chronology. Obviously the Avengers have become a thing so it’s after that movie, but it’s common knowledge that Coulson’s alive so….not really sure about that. The rest of it, though, was great. Some of it felt predictable but so many plot twists happened that I didn’t see coming–a sign of a good superhero story. It was entertaining and fun but (read below for major spoiler) Not cool, Margaret Stohl. Not cool.
Rated 4/5 for fun characters, great writing, surprising plot twists, and excessive fangirling