Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons #3)
By: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
When the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. It’s time to see how many lives this cat really has. . . .
Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.
Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing’s undoing.
Dear reader, I have a confession to make: I almost didn’t read this book. Despite my fondness for everything S.J. Maas has ever written, and my ongoing enchantment with the DC Icons series, I was reluctant about this book. I read early remarks on Goodreads that were a little snarky about whether Catwoman was going to be another Aelin, and I was already worried that the plot would hinge on something annoying like seducing Batman, and I was ready to give it a pass. I think I only bought it so I could get free shipping from Barnes and Noble, if you would believe. But I did end up reading this, and absolutely adoring it, so I guess that’s a lesson to never judge books by their covers, or what other people think. (You can make a joke about how I’m on the wrong blog, but seriously: my word isn’t gospel, and you know your own taste).
Let’s make one thing very clear: Selina Kyle as Maas writes her IS very similar to Celaena Sardothien (even the names, which cracks me up a bit). But also, I firmly believe that this is exactly why DC hired her for this job, because they knew that Maas could write a badass, clever yet vulnerable teenage assassin AND do it well (after all, she already had). And considering the fact that I adore the entire Throne of Glass series, I’m honestly not sure why I was put off by this. If anything, it should have been a selling point.
So yes, let’s just accept that Selina is a teenage assassin, trained to be an assassin by a mysterious person/organization (in this case, it’s the Ghuls, because obviously), returning to the city she had once called home for a very different reason. For Selina, it’s ostensibly to turn Gotham on its head, but also to swoop in and help her sister Maggie, who is sick and getting sicker. Selina is masquerading as a young, dumb blond socialite (sound familiar?) in order to secretly fulfill her aims, which are to rob Gotham’s rich. She coincidentally ends up in an apartment right next to Luke Fox, the son of the Wayne Corporation’s CEO and Batman’s secret protege Batwing–a recipe for trouble.
This is an absolute thrill of a book–I mean, how could it not? Glamorous social events, hide-and-seek with vigilante superheroes, all of the seediness and villainy of Gotham’s underbelly, a rebel with a cause–everything that Catwoman characterizes. But I did very much breathe a sigh of relief to find no Batman in this book, and instead a focus on a much more interesting character, Luke Fox. In this version he’s a combat vet home after an injury, becoming the Batwing as a way to cope with his PTSD and to find an outlet for his desire to do good. BUT he’s not even the main focus–I mean, yes, there’s a slow-burn romance with Selina/Catwoman, but it’s a classic superhero thing where secret identities are very much getting in the way.
What actually made me dance around the room with joy is that Catwoman decided to form a gang with–GUESS WHO–Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, AKA the trio known as the Gotham City Sirens. And yes, as a gang they absolutely succeed in terrorizing Gotham. I adored how Maas put the emphasis not on romantic love, but on girl power. But that being said, she didn’t shy away from Ivy’s issues as a mutant/outcast, or Harley’s instability and mental illness. I also loved that, aside from everything else, what brought Selina back to Gotham was her love for her little sister and her desire to do everything possible to help her.
The plot–Ok, I’m just going to say it’s a typical S.J. Maas book, it’s fun and twisty and building up to a batshit crazy climax, which gets very confusing and during which someone dies UTTERLY NEEDLESSLY and in a vaguely baffling way. But 90% of it is well-done, and I think how she wraps things up AFTER the climax is enjoyable. So, all in all, I definitely do not regret buying Catwoman, and I think I would have ultimately regretted not reading it.
I usually like to say something about how I’m excited for the next books here, but I’m actually making a choice NOT to read or buy the Superman book which is coming out next, because I don’t want to support an author like Matt de la Peña (numerous authors and readers named him as someone who had a reputation for harassing and taking advantage of female fans/aspiring writers when the #metoo movement hit YA earlier this year). I would also encourage people who care about this sort of thing to do a similar boycott of Superman and his other work. For me personally, the DC Icons series ends here, with Catwoman, and I would say it’s a satisfactory ending.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.