Black Widow: Forever Red – YA introduction to a mysterious Marvel character

Black Widow: Forever Red – YA introduction to a mysterious Marvel character

I want to warn you that I know very little about the Marvel Universe, so I can’t tell you that this is going to rock your world or ruin your life if you are a superfan.  What I do know is that I had no knowledge of the Black Widow character when I started reading, and I enjoyed the book.  Ignore the fact that it is written by Margaret Stohl (unless you think highly of Beautiful Creatures, which I don’t).  This book was in no way reminiscent of anything else of hers I’ve read.  Ignore the fact that it is YA because adults can enjoy this book, as can readers of both genders.  I gave it four stars.


Goodreads Summary

Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy

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.

Until now.

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. . . .

Black Widow:Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.

My Thoughts

The plot is action packed and engaging.  Lots of things blew up and lots of weapons were used.  There is some crazy cool science experimentation that will take down the good guys in a pretty stealthy way.  I don’t think the plot will disappoint anyone who likes super heroes.  The pacing is designed to engage readers, and there are some pretty surprising turns in the story.  I particularly liked the style the author used – chapters were separated by classified transcripts of interviews about the incident that the entire book leads up to.  It built suspense because they were part of a Line-of-Duty Death Investigation, so I knew something major was going to happen but each one shifted my guess about who was hurt or what had gone down.  I liked the characters, and I thought the author did a good job of bringing Tony Stark’s personality alive in the book – I did see the first Iron Man, so I could imagine RDJ spouting those lines.  I connected with Natasha probably because I am old and she is the adult in the situation, but most of the target audience will connect with Ava and Alex.  This is actually their adventure/nightmare with Natasha acting as a sort of dual narrator.  Some readers will be disappointed by that, but it thought it was rather smart – considering how much the book made me want to know more about the Marvel world, I figure this is a great way to bring in a new and wider fan base.  I think it was also a smart decision not to go too heavy on the romance because, though there are emotions, they are not enough to keep male readers from enjoying the book.  I think this is going to appeal most to middle school readers because the YA characters felt younger, but I did enjoy it as an adult reader because it did deal with the emotions that experiences like the Red Room can have on a readers life.  This wasn’t a stupid happy story – there was real suffering and reflection in here, and I think that translates very well to my idea of the world of super heroes before Hollywood slicks them up.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 12+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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