Review: Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

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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.

In this third DC Icons book–following Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker – Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that’s closest to her heart?

4.5 Stars

Right off the bat (#sorrynotsorry the puns are already coming) I’d like to put it out there that I am basically certified trash for Sarah J. Maas. I will read anything she writes. Literally anything. If she wrote a book about the life cycle of a fly I’d read it. Heck, I’d even read her grocery list. That being said, going into Catwoman: Soulstealer (the third in a line of YA books centered around the coming-of-age of DC’s most iconic characters) I wasn’t expecting to have as much fun as I did.

Here’s the thing: I’m not really a super hero fan. I know, shocker right? Literally everyone likes super heroes. Not me.

I don’t discriminate between DC, Marvel or otherwise. These stories, whether they be in the form of books, comics or films just don’t speak to me. Actually – scratch that, I do love me some Superman. And I’m talking the original, classic Superman films featuring the late Christopher Reeve and not the newly revamped films with Henry Cavil (eesh!). But 80’s Superman films aside I’m not a fan. You can fight me on my unpopular opinions, I regret nothing when I say that Hollywood really needs to learn to quite while they’re ahead with it’s superhero movies. With that in mind, when I picked up Catwoman: Soulstealer I had no expectations.  Basically, I was 100% here for Sarah J. Maas’s writing, witty banter and the promise that Sarah’s rendition of Selina Kyle would be the definition of bad ass. Yes I knew of the characters – I haven’t been living under a rock. Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy… These characters are iconic but I had no clues as to their back stories and what-not.

My utter lack of Batman lore and superhero knowledge in general aside, I actually adored Catwoman: Soulstealer. As in, I-didn’t-want-her-story-to-end, dragged-it-out-as-long-as-I-could kind of devotion. I think that Selina’s story is one you can enjoy whether you’re just dabbing into the world that is Gotham City like myself or you’re a hard-core, die-hard fan. Also, any fan’s of Sarah’s books, specifically the infamous character of Celaena Sardothien will also not be disappointed. I for one loved discovering the many parallels between Selina and Celaena (and I don’t just mean their names). Both characters were dealt a pretty bad hand and both characters have literally had to claw their way up from the ashes. That being said, Selina is not just a carbon copy of Sarah’s earlier character and her story stands proudly apart from Sarah’s Throne of Glass series. Catwoman: Soulstealer exists in a league of epicness all on it’s own.

So, let’s talk about our girl Selina Kyle, also known as Holly Vanderhees who is also known as Catwoman. Confused yet? Don’t be, because Sarah’s use of aliases was fantastic and it only worked to add more layers and depth to Selina’s character. When you first start Catwoman: Soulstealer we are presented with seventeen year old Selina Kyle from Gothem’s slums. Selina’s a street-smart, kick ass yet troubled teen with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Selina’s story was so heartbreaking which is why, despite the heists and robberies and what-not I never saw her as a villain. Selina basically sacrificed her childhood and her very soul for her sister, becoming a street fighter to save money to support her failing health. But when everything goes to shit and she faces time in the slammer, Selina makes yet another sacrifice to protect her sister disappearing from Gothem City, only to return three years later as the snobbish heiress Holly Vanderhees. Holly Vanderhees is shallow, materialistic and vain; basically a cover for Catwoman and a way to infiltrate the playground of the rich and wealthy to bring the city to it’s knees.

Which brings us to Catwoman herself. Catwoman prowls back into Gothem City as a lethally trained assassin with a mission and purpose. Gone is the desperate, frightened girl Selina Kyle was and in her place a poised, educated yet deadly anti-hero. I loved how she matured into this total badass who could taunt and bait Batwing as she reeked havoc upon Gothem’s elite as well as it’s underbelly. She’s tough as nails and yet, behind her sleek, hard exterior she’s human which is why I loved her. I’m all about the anti-heros and anti-villains and it’s not everyday we get a female anti-hero. She might be on the wrong side of the law for the most part but she does have a (shaky) moral compass and she will draw the line when it counts. By the final chapter I was completely in awe of her character.

But, Catwoman isn’t the only sexy villain on the prowl. A super villain needs an awesome squad after all and let me tell you, Sarah J. Maas is the reigning queen of #squadgoals so you just know that Catwoman: Soulstealer would be no exception. Enlisting the help of Poison Ivy and Harley Quin the three bad asses become the super villain squad I never knew I needed and I loved their uneasy alliance and venomous banter. I also loved seeing how these initial shaky at best allies become the most unlikely of friends.

Compelling female lead aside, I loved Catwoman: Soulstealer’s plot (which let me tell you was almost perfectly paced). There is a sense of playfulness throughout the book (who knew it could be so fun to be bad?) but there’s also a sense of mystery in the form of Selina’s master plan. What starts out as seemingly merely heists, robberies and your basic super villain shenanigans serves a greater purpose. Nothing Selina does as Catwoman is meaningless and I loved seeing the puzzle pieces fit together. That being said, don’t mistake this book for a campy superhero read. Here there be thrills, plot twists and a whole lot of feels. I mean – this is Sarah J. Maas we’re talking about! We have representation of Post Traumatic Stress, LBGT, family abuse, substance abuse, corruption among the police and state departments as well as comments on race.

Basically whether you’re a Gothem newbie like me or a seasoned fan, Catwoman: Soulstealer has something for everyone and I highly recommend it. Fans of Sarah J. Maas’s work won’t be disappointed, in fact, most likely this will become your newest obsession. I for one loved running around Gothem’s underworld with Selina, Harley and Ivy as they raised hell and took on the corruption in the system. This is the ultimate story of sticking it to the man and girl power.Alexandra

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