Summary: Eighteen-year old Bruce Wayne is ready to spend the summer with his best friends before heading off to college and officially inherit his family fortune, including Wayne Industries. But when an impulsive decision leads to five weeks of community service at Arkham Asylum, the home of Gotham City’s worst criminals, he finds himself investigating the Nightwalkers, the infamous group of criminals attacking the city’s wealthiest citizens. The most intriguing person involved is Arkham’s youngest inmate, Madeleine, a brilliant girl tied to the Nightwalkers, who will only speak to Bruce. Bruce must unravel the mystery that is Madeleine and decide if her words speak the truth or are leading him to hurt Gotham City himself.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Let’s start off this review with a mini confessional and intro: Hi, my name is Haley of Fangirl Fury, and I am here to admit that I know next to nothing about Batman, but I decided to read a book about Batman. I’ve seen bits and pieces of The Dark Knight trilogy (my philosophy teacher was really into using film to display different philosophical structures), and I think the most Batman I’ve ever experienced is watching The Lego Movie. So why did I pick up Batman: Nightwalker?
BECAUSE IT’S WRITTEN BY MARIE LU, AUTHOR OF WARCROSS AND THE LEGEND TRILOGY AKA SOME OF ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS NOT TO MENTION MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE AUTHOR.
Since I’m not the biggest Batman fan, I actually didn’t buy my own copy of the book, choosing to borrow it from the library. If I have the opportunity to go to another Marie Lu signing or if I find a signed copy at the bookstore (I’ve seen a few float around Instagram), I’ll be adding it to my personal collection because I ADORED Batman: Nightwalker.
My main point that I want to stress about Batman: Nightwalker is that you do not need to be any sort of Batman or DC fan to understand the novel. The majority of the characters in the book were created by created by Marie Lu, aside from of course Bruce, Alfred (Bruce’s guardian/ head of the Wayne estate/ sidekick/ MOST CARING, CUTEST MAN), Lucius Fox, who works for Wayne Tech, and Bruce’s friend, Harvey (who I did not know was actually from the DC world until after I finished reading). Marie Lu was able to capture so much world-building and character creation of her own while playing in the “DC sandbox” (she’s often used this term when talking about writing the book on various panels about the DC Icons series). And the book felt so much like a Marie Lu book; her writing style wasn’t overpowered by having to be in the world of Batman/ DC.
My favorite part of Batman: Nightwalker was the world building. I really enjoyed Marie Lu’s descriptions of Gothman City and Wayne Industries and how she constructed Bruce’s family background and his history with his friends and the press. The coolest aspect of the DC Icons series is that we get to experience these superheroes as young adults. From what I understand, mostly from Marie Lu’s interviews, this is the first time someone has really highlighted Bruce Wayne as a teenager and not so much as Batman. While I wish the book had been a bit more bat-ty (Bruce briefly talks about the bat population in the Gotham City and how his dad would take him to their sanctuary), Marie Lu lays out some of the elements that I assume Bruce will develop as Batman(yes, there is a Batmobile-type vehicle). With Bruce investigating the Nightwalkers and figuring out his relationship with Madeleine, there’s also a lot of discussion about justice and corruption that I think shapes Bruce as a person and will later shape him as a superhero. Some reviews have critiqued the lack of action in the book but I definitely preferred the world building and Nightwalker investigation more. As a reader, I have always had a lot of trouble following action sequences and I’m really not the biggest fan of action or fight scenes either —probably another reason why I tend to reach for contemporary over fantasy/action—but it was easy to pick up on what was happening during and after the action.
So where does Batman: Nightwalker fit into the DC Icons series for me?
I enjoyed this installment more than Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer. I by no means disliked Wonder Woman: Warbringer and I am definitely more of a Wonder Woman fan than Batman, but I wasn’t too crazy about the mortal world parts of the book — I wish we spent more time in Themscyra and on the superhero and fantasy elements of the novel than in modern society. Additionally, granted that I’ve only read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology outside of WWW, I felt like I couldn’t really tell that Leigh Bardugo wrote the book (other than how she created a great and humorous dynamic among a larger cast of characters in both series), compared to how I knew that Batman: Nightwalker was truly a Marie Lu book.
I am beyond excited for Sarah J. Maas’s Catwoman: Soulstealer this August and I think I will pick up Matt de la Pena’s take on Superman in 2019, though I know even less about Superman than Batman and Catwoman.
Are you a DC or Batman fan? Have you read Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu? Share in the comments!