The Avengers movies have shown us the backstory or family situation of many of the major S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but finding anything about Natasha Romanov, aka The Black Widow, is about as difficult as locating an action figure of her in the toy section. Admittedly, a lack of past or family has always been a hallmark of fictional spies since James Bond, but since the Winter Soldier graced the big screen, I found myself craving some more about my favorite Avenger. If Bucky gets a backstory, then why not Tasha??
Well, Forever Red by Margaret Stohl goes a long way toward filling in the gap. At the end, there are still plenty of things we do not know about Romanov, but this short novel provides her origin story and points toward the future of the Avengers as new candidates surface to join The Black Widow in this fun, fast-paced romp through the Marvel world.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Forever Red from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
Published by Marvel Press on Oct. 13th, 2015
Genres: Superheroes, YA
Page Length: 401 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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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. . . .
- Forever Red is an engaging, well-paced spy adventure that mis-directs through its apparent revelations. Like many novels in the spy genre, the reader knows the conclusion of the story at its very beginning and sits back to enjoy the journey, only to find twists and turns and complications along the way. This is not an overly complex book, but it does keep the reader guessing and resisting the temptation to turn to the last chapter partway through the unfolding tale.
- Stohl writes a Natasha Romanov that matches well with the character we see played out in the movies. The dialog is spot on, and Black Widow is as supremely competent as always, despite having old wounds reopened and forgotten memories restored. She gets help when she needs it from friends and colleagues, but is never in need of saving.
- This short novel fills a desire for Black Widow’s history without revealing too much. There is still much that we don’t know …. some of which is hinted at during the interludes between chapters when the Department of Defense is interrogating Natasha (with predictable results). I do not know how well this meshes with her history as known by comic book fans. If anyone sees some glaring inconsistencies, please let me know.
- The book is written in a particular style for this genre. History is revealed, and characters come to grips with it, but there is not a lot of obvious growth. As Romanov would say, that’s for Americans, but many adults may find the characters a bit two-dimensional. Just warning you. I think it will play well with its intended audience.
Yea, I’m a Black Widow fan and a kid at heart sometimes. I took this easy-reading spy thriller at face value and enjoyed it. I hope you will too!!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
© 2015, Barbara. All rights reserved.