I am a Bat-fan. Yes, I am. I have loudly declared in English: “I am Batman” (complete with a deep, gravelly voice) in front of other people. Yes, in public. Yes, in front of real people, not imaginary ones. I’ve watched all the movies, both old and new (yes, Nolan’s version with Christian Bale is my favorite, but I also think Ben Affleck did a terrific job with his take on Batman), the animated (newer) series, and played the video games (from those on Sega Mega Drive to the latest in the “Arkham” and “Injustice” series). The only things I haven’t got my hands on are the graphic novels and new hardcover comic book editions (still a costly endeavor for Serbia, to be honest 😅).
All in all, Batman as a character is interesting not just as a masked hero (the famous detective, master of martial arts, possessor of cool gadgets, the Bat-cave, probably the only mortal who, with the right data analysis and groundwork, can defeat any supervillain… or superhero), but also as playboy-philanthropist-billionaire Bruce Wayne, adored by the media from a young age. And let’s not even start on the psychological profile of Batman/Bruce Wayne… we could have not just a special topic, but an entire blog about it.
All in all, you get it, I’m a Batman fan and when I grow up, I want to be Batman… actually, I’d rather be Bruce Wayne. 😀
The timing when I started reading the book couldn’t have been better. I had just finished the last (i.e., the fourth) season of the series “Gotham”, which is about the rise of Detective James Gordon, and Bruce Wayne in the years following his parents’ murder, and how his decisions during those young days gradually shaped him into the personality who would one day become the Dark Knight, the protector of Gotham.
Marie Lu’s book “Batman: Nightwalker” (I must admit I liked the translation of word “Nightwalker” as “Noćobdija” in Serbian 🙂) covers the period when Bruce Wayne is nearing his high school graduation and beginning preparations for college. It’s also the time when he is about to become an adult, gaining full access to his family’s money and business (poor thing, until then he could only spend a few million dollars, now he’ll be able to spend billions 😅). In this age, Bruce Wayne is depicted as stubborn and somewhat headstrong, but a smart young man. He trains in martial arts, learns about his family business (especially the technologies of “WayneTech”), drives fast cars… sheer enjoyment.
And he feels a strong desire to prevent crime at all costs. So strong that he stops a member of the infamous terrorist organization “Nightwalkers” from escaping the police in a crazy car chase. However, because of this, he gets a bit of flak from the police (like, he committed just 46 traffic violations while driving), and the judicial system decides to send him to do some community service.
To a normal correctional-educational facility… who am I kidding.
To the “Arkham” asylum. To mop floors and whatnot… like a job got via Youth organization… only you don’t get paid… and you’re surrounded by the worst scum existing in the state. Yippee!
Anyway, Bruce in the asylum establishes contact with one of the new patients, Madeleine. A pretty girl, except that she’s a member of the “Nightwalkers” (maybe even their leader) and she supposedly butchered three of her victims (who, incidentally, all belonged to Gotham’s wealthy elite)… well, as people say, love is blind…
However, Madeleine persistently refuses to communicate with the police and the psychiatrists, constantly playing with her paper figure. She only communicates with Bruce, which even the police try to exploit to learn more about Madeleine and the Nightwalkers’ activities.
And so begins a game of cat and mouse between Madeleine and Bruce. It’s an understatement to say that Madeleine manages (and quite well) to get under Bruce’s skin. Based on his body language and looks, she literally reads his mind, predicts his every move effortlessly, often sends him ambiguous messages and signals, and it’s unclear whether she wants to help him expose the “Nightwalkers” or is just manipulating him all along. She plays on the card of his murdered parents, but also reveals important details about herself and her mother. A confused girl or a brilliant criminal, that is the question?
Keep in mind that Bruce, as smart and intuitive as he is, is still very young and naive in many ways, making Madeleine more than a worthy adversary for him.
And so Bruce, often on his own, and often with the help of his allies (primarily Lucius Fox and the faithful butler Alfred), conducts investigations as best as he can, determined to unmask the “Nightwalkers”.
While he himself becomes aware that he is in greater danger than he could have imagined.
Marie Lu’s writing style is beautiful and clear. It will appeal to everyone, regardless of age. The action is dynamically described, and Bruce’s thoughts and dialogues are also well integrated.
What can I say. I had just finished the series “Gotham”, so the characters from the series (like Bruce, Alfred, and Lucius) were speaking to me through the book, which made me enjoy this book even more.
It’s definitely not a masterpiece, but it’s damn fun to read. Marie’s version of Batman is interesting and you really get the impression that she enjoyed writing this novel.
All in all, the book is fun and dynamic, and I think it will appeal to everyone, especially fans of the Dark Knight.
I bought the standard edition of the book (it even includes a small poster), but as a true Batman fan, I probably should have bought the collector’s edition from “Urban Reads” (which looks pretty cool).
A man makes mistakes.
And you, dear Bat-readers, are you also fans of Batman or not? 🙂
(originally reviewed: 22/11/2018)