Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Dates Read: August 8th, 2018 to August 9th, 2018
Buddy Read w/ The Bookish King aka my favourite person
Trigger Warnings: PTSD, war flashbacks, mentions of parental abuse, mentions of drugs, mentions of cystic fibrosis
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
Genre: young adult, fantasy, romance, superheroes
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.
R E V I E W
Catwoman: Soulstealer was everything most people predicted it would be. A straight up disappointment. This book didn’t have anything going for it. A book that promised feminism and a kickass plotline was flat and used PTSD and abuse as a plot device to push forward the weak story. I don’t agree with those two things being used as a plot device, and I speak from experience when I say they were poorly executed throughout this story. Sarah J Maas was unable to create a new world within the pre-existing DC universe. This story came across as lacklustre and simply as a first draft of a book rather than the final edition.
This particular story in the DC universe is told from two perspectives: Selina Kyle and Luke Fox. Selina Kyle didn’t have the easiest life. With an abusive drug addict mother (badly done) who had had a series of abusive ex-boyfriends, she has been left to care for her younger sister alone. Considering she is not 18 yet and has immersed herself in a well-known gang in the city this is not okay in the eyes of the law. Ultimately, Selina Kyle left Gotham City two years ago, on an adventure to train as an assassin and with a promise that her younger sister who had cystic fibrosis would be taken care of. She’s now returned to the city and is ready to wreak havoc in her path.
Luke Fox was a marine. Now retired after an explosion? A car accident? It’s never really explained, I think it was mentioned in passing. Luke has returned to Gotham and it is there that he has found that he is battling the effects of PTSD. I can not speak on the PTSD that a war veteran experiences, I will never try to do so. I experience PTSD due to different reasons and my triggers are not the same as someone else’s. I will talk more about why I think this PTSD rep is piss poor later in this review, so keep an eye out. Luke now trains with Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, and has even adopted the fun title of Batwing. I cringed a little when I read it in the book honestly. I’m not sure if there is actually a character called Batwing in the DC universe, but honestly what a weak name. I want some creativity, folks.
Batwing obviously fits for the good of Gotham City and Catwoman is obviously fighting for herself. The pair comes to blows several times throughout the story, so trigger warning for violence. However, the plot of this book is lacking. Almost nothing happens for 200 pages. Catwoman robs banks with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy and Batwing does his best to defeat them but fails every time (which is kind of embarrassing and unrealistic, he should have at least one once). The story really doesn’t pick up until the last 50 odd pages of this book and it honestly isn’t even worth it. It is weak and poorly executed, which had my eyes rolling towards the back of my head. I was thankful when I finished this book.
So, my positive for this book. I only have one, so strap on your seatbelt folks. I liked the fact that Poison Ivy was very much a lesbian on the page. She states that all she wanted was to kiss a girl and even states that she and Harley hook up. I just liked Poison Ivy’s character, actually. She was definitely the best part about this train wreck of a book.
Additionally, Selina Kyle’s sexuality is completely erased. I have seen people asking if Selina is bisexual in this novel and honestly, I don’t know. It is never mentioned, which to me counts as erasing. Throughout this novel, Selina expresses the only thing she has desire for is money, which is cool. Except there is a romance forced into the plot that had me wanting to pull my eyes out with hot pokers.
Oh, the other thing I did like about this book was that there was a trio of three girls who took the centre of the book. Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Catwoman all had their moment in the sunshine. I don’t think the friendships created between these characters were well done, which was frustrating, but they were there and I guess there was an attempt made.
My least favourite about this book, if you had no idea yet, was the PTSD. I would say that only Luke experiences PTSD throughout this book, but in an underlying way, you could also say that Selina does as well. Again, Luke’s PTSD stems from being in the marines and seeing people he loves dies. I can’t speak on this. I will say that the PTSD is used to further both the plot and relationship between Selina and Luke, something I find disgusting. There is even a part where Luke tells Selina that he has PTSD, and she says she understands because her mother was abusive. That whole scene rubbed me the wrong way. The topic switches instantly to Selina’s backstory and Luke is simply put to the side, despite the fact this scene could have brought attention to what veterans go through. The way Sarah J Maas dealt with PTSD throughout Catwoman: Soulstealer kind of made me feel like she had no idea what she was doing. Which shocked me because of her PTSD representations in Tower of Dawn and A Court of Mist and Fury always spoke to me. It was simply used as a plot device in this novel and I am not okay with that. Hell, I would say the poor representation and way of dealing with PTSD in this book would rival Zenith by Sasha Albserg and Lindsay Cummings (review here).
I mentioned before that Selina Kyle had a younger sister she cared for. This little girl is Selina’s whole life at the beginning of the book. Selina does anything she can to make sure her little sister is eating and not going to die. However, after Selina returns from where she has trained to be an assassin, to the same city that Maggie lives in, the younger sister is only mentioned in passing. Which is incredibly frustrating considering the ‘twist’ in the plot. I really felt that Maggie should have been allowed more page time, at least in Selina’s thoughts. It honestly made the book feel disjointed and like Sarah hadn’t worked on the plot enough at all. It was as if several ideas had been rammed together in hopes that it would work, with no thought as to how they would flow into each other.
I think the biggest downfall of Catwoman: Soulstealer was the bland characters. They were so bloody boring. No one had a personality. They all virtually read the same. They just bored me to utter tears. I wish I could pluck this book from my brain because I wasted so much time reading it. Sarah J Maas wasn’t able to give these already loved characters their moment in the sunshine. She was trying to push so much into them and it ultimately resulted in them being one-dimensional characters that were boring to read about. Not only that, but this book really did have no plot. So, bland characters and lack of plot? There’s absolutely nothing going for this book.
Another thing, since I’m on a roll. Some people shouldn’t write about diversity. I think Sarah J Maas is one of them. Everyone has called her out on her lack of diversity, and they’re not wrong, and she clearly tried to do something in this book but damn it was lacking. Luke Fox is a black male in this book and Sarah J Maas spends so much time talking about how he is oppressed despite being an incredibly rich man all his life. There were massive sections to Selina thinking about the oppression Luke must face as well, which just rubbed me the wrong way. It was as if Sarah was trying way too hard and not letting these characters come organically.
The dialogue also sucked. Not a single interaction sounded realistic or as if the characters were real people. I understand it is a book but at least give the characters some kind of realistic traits.
Overall, this book was blander than white bread. There was no spark, there was no great moment, there was simply nothing. The characters were lacking and the world building itself relied on what you already know about the DC universe. Sarah truly didn’t try at all with this book. I don’t know if maybe I am being too judgemental of Sarah’s writing, but if you’re an NYT bestselling author you should expect it. The writing in this book is comparable to Throne of Glass, her worst book in existence. I can say it was lacking that weird toxic masculinity that usually filters through her books and there was no smut. Overall, a terrible book and one I do not recommend.
Happy reading everyone!
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