I’ve heard quite a bit of praise for Marie Lu’s books, and while browsing at the library, Batman caught my eye, especially given that I love superheroes and the idea of a teen Batman peaked my interest. What I found was a delightful, fast-paced original story based on the Batman theme and I loved the modernization of an old favorite.
This book shouldn’t really be called “Batman” as the story takes place before Bruce Wayne (who is eighteen in the book) has become Batman. The story begins on young Bruce Wayne’s high school graduation day, and Bruce has just come into his inheritance.
We already see Bruce’s desire to stop the crime and violence in his city early on as he intervenes in a police chase which lands him in hot water with Gotham City’s finest. But it’s only because of Bruce’s intervention that police were able to apprehend a suspected murderer who’s part of the gang called The Nightwalkers suspected of several murders and thefts in Gotham City.
Welcome to Arkham
As a result of his meddling, Bruce is sentenced to community service at one of the worst places possible: the Arkham Asylum, home for the criminally insane which houses the most dangerous criminals in Gotham. There, he encounters Madeleine, the Nightwalker suspect who was apprehended as a result of Bruce’s interference. The enigmatic Madeleine refuses to speak to the authorities, but she begins to strike up a conversation with Bruce during his daily chores.
Through this new friendship, Bruce learns more of her background and history, and she really seems to understand him. The more they talk, the more Bruce begins to feel a connection between the two of them. She then starts feeding him little nuggets of information about the Nightwalkers, which Bruce ends up personally verifying.
Helping the Police
Given that Bruce is the only person that Madeline will talk to, he begins working closely with the police in order to gain additional information from Madeleine about the Nightwalkers. But Madeleine is not only very intelligent and possibly deadly, she is also extremely cunning, and she ends up reading Bruce like a book. Madeleine is well aware of Bruce Wayne’s history, and she uses this to get him to trust her. She reinforces this trust even further by giving him those much-needed clues to the whereabouts of the Nightwalkers.
But is it a trap?
Though it appears as though she may be helping him, is she actually leading him into a trap? It’s difficult to tell as the story progresses. Madeleine is creepy at times but at other times incredibly charming and seemingly authentic.
In spite of Bruce’s better judgment, he finds himself falling for her, but as he becomes more deeply involved with the situation, he begins to suspect that she may not be as sincere as he thought when he learns that some of what she’s told him are lies.
It’s also worth mentioning at this point that the Nightwalkers’ modus operandi is to steal every bit of money from millionaires and billionaires and then murder them afterward. As a reader, we can’t help but wonder: is Bruce Wayne next on their list?
The characters in this story were excellent. It’s fun that the story takes place from the Bruce Wayne’s point of view so we get a peek inside the head of the extremely intelligent kid with complex emotions who is destined to be the infamous Batman. I really liked his personality — compassionate, honorable, and caring on hand and a bit of a dangerous, daring bad-boy on the other.
Madeleine is an awesome antagonist — a clever master manipulator who ends up playing everybody around her. She’s also quite a complicated character, which doesn’t make it easy for the reader (or the other characters in the book) to figure her out. She definitely has many layers to her, and she keeps everyone guessing.
The story is fast-paced, gripping and action-packed, and a true treat for the superhero fan (the Wayne Tech drones were a nice extra touch). I was drawn in almost immediately, and the riveting plot kept me turning the page. This story has it all: an intriguing tech-savvy villain, a noble hero, murder, justice, bloodthirsty thieves, a brilliant mastermind and even a touch of romance. I felt that the pacing was perfect and the dialog snappy, with an excellent build-up to the climax.
Though I felt the title of the story (Batman) was a tad misleading, it did do an excellent job of planting the seed for Bruce Wayne’s future evolution into Batman. Batman:Nightwalker was a fun mystery that kept me guessing throughout the entire novel. It was a fast read with plenty of surprises as the story unfolded.
For me, this was an excellent introduction to Marie Lu’s work (I love her writing style), and I look forward to reading more by her. And even though I’m more of a Marvel guy than a DC guy, I’ve been wanting to dive into the DC Icons series and coming across this book provided me an excellent opportunity to do so. Recommended!
You can check out Batman HERE