Black Widow: Forever Red
Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
Written by Margaret Stohl
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Well, it’s about time, Marvel. Note to the reader: that was my reaction when I first heard of this young adult novel, Black Widow: Forever Red. Tell me there aren’t millions of people, youngsters and adult-ish types, who aren’t jonesing for this Avenger who fights alongside some legendary heroes, without having one iota of superpower or magic or billions of dollars of tech. Black Widow rolls in with guns and an overwhelming amount of badassery. So, yeah. When I saw this book was coming out, I definitely felt it was overdue.
Bestselling author Margaret Stohl penned this book and captured a version of Natasha Romanov to which most comics only eluded. Deeply focused and not a little broken, the reader gets inside the mind of this unstoppable assassin only to find she’s not exactly what you might expect. Whatever her past holds, she is a dedicated and diverse woman who seeks justice and, at times, revenge. This isn’t the movie version of the character; she’s not all sarcastic quips and nonchalant attitude, though there is a fair amount of both. The Black Widow is, above all else, driven. And Stohl goes above and beyond to explore as many nooks and crannies as she can in Natasha’s psyche.
As for the storyline, you’ll never believe the astounding directions it’s got going on in this book. It all starts off with a little girl named Ava, who is rescued by the Black Widow from her deranged captor, Ivan. But, as luck would have it, Ivan is also the sadistic instructor who taught/tortured Natasha as a young child. Our heroine takes some particularly lethal steps to ensure that this monster never harms another child again. Closing that chapter of her life was a welcome move and it allowed Natasha to move forward, much as it allowed Ava to do the same. But when children start disappearing all over again, it raises some flags and put the Black Widow back on the case to find out who is trying to revive the dreaded Red Room that trained her so many years ago.
Less espionage and intrigue, this adventure spills out into the civilian world, so much so that it even manages to get a young teen named Alex caught in the crossfire. Dragging him along, even as it embroils Ava, keeps our deadly protagonist busy and, oftentimes, distracted. Add in some globetrotting and a gratuitous amount of mayhem and bloodshed to create one grand adventure that keeps the reader guessing and on the edge of their seat. Natasha isn’t one to randomly trust people but after this mission, she may never trust anyone again. Herself included.
I sat down and read this in two big bursts; it’s broken into three acts, but has a healthy amount of interludes that create the illusion of this story being a tale told during a debriefing. This effect causes the story to feel grounded and even a little bit more believable. I enjoyed it from start to finish and even laughed out loud a few times, thanks in no small part to a cameo from Tony Stark and any number of pop culture references. I will be passing this book on to my daughter. It’s both entertaining and empowering, things a young lady definitely needs in her life. And it’s not just Black Widow that exudes strength in this tale, folks. It’s all about digging deep and overcoming the obstacles that life sets before you. Not a bad moral, if you ask me. Buy it, read it, pass it on. That’s my advice!