Book Review: Batman Nightwalker by Marie Lu (3/5)

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YA – Fantasy?

I am a Batman fan. I am not a fan of rich-boy angst. Guess which this book has more off? If you guessed Batman, you’d be wrong.

I picked this book up because I loved Marie Lu’s The Young Elites series. This book feels… like it was written by someone else. I mean that as in The Young Elites was fast-paced, every chapter ended on a strangled high note, and I couldn’t put it down – I had no trouble putting this book down.

It was, sadly, boring.

It was akin to Batman: the Animated Series in that it wasn’t solely about Bruce Wayne. It was about him wanting to help those in need, namely the criminal girl in this book – Madeline. It showed that compassionate side of Bruce Wayne that a lot of Batman spin-offs don’t get. He is a compassionate person with a genuine need to help those in need, those who have gone off the deep end, and those who only need an ear to hear them.

I can see how this prequel-Batman story leads Bruce Wayne to the path of becoming Batman. It echoes in Madeline’s warning, “Trust no one, suspect everything.”

While Bruce Wayne was spot-on in character design, the others – not so much. Harvey Dent was just kind of there, the “buddy.” He did have his signature coin-fidgeting habit, and there were signs that he could develop a darker side to his “best friend” outward personality. (He comes from a father with a drunk-and-abuse history, but it’s not expanded upon. It’s implied.)

Then there was this Dianne character – who, this is probably an unpopular opinion, felt so cookie cutter. She was the nosy, protective Latina female character who came from a large, loving family and liked food; but she never broke out of that stereotype. She came across as super down to earth, but she went to the same school as Bruce – a fancy-pants rich academy, but that felt so unlike her character.

I liked this book because it had some great Bruce Wayne character development that shows the path that he will take that will lead him to becoming Batman. It’s not a story of him becoming Batman, but one of him becoming the man that will then become Batman. Does that make sense? It’s his coming-of-age story, essentially; he is leaving his teen years behind and looking to the expanse of the future.

I would have liked this book more if it had been set in the 1920s style Gotham rather than the tech-savvy present; Batman doesn’t need super-fancy-high-tech stuff. He’s Batman. He using his brain and intellect and detective skills to figure out stuff, whereas in this book there was a reliance on technology. And… it could just be my distance with the high-tech stuff.

Toward the end, I found myself skipping entire paragraphs because I felt them unnecessary; I wasn’t gaining any ground-breaking info or plot-altering character twists. It all felt so… I don’t know. Obvious. The whole “let’s walk through Wayne Tech’s prototype room and show the read the gadgets that Bruce Wayne is going to use in the climax of the plot,” got me. I wasn’t surprise; the plot did exactly what I thought it would. Given how great The Young Elites series was, and how much I like Legend so far – I expected more from Marie Lu.

And then the whole “love interest” absolutely felt forced.

So… despite it being boring, I give Batman: Nightwalker a 3 out of 5. It lost that last point because it was boring, but I loved the Batman: the Animated Series vibes. And… to be honest, while I loved that series – it was a little boring at times, too. If it had carried over the noir feeling more completely – then it might have been a 5/5.

 

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