Black Canary is the 5th book in the DC Icons series… These novels take a look at major DC characters from a teen POV. I’ve read Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu (Mini Review) and Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (Mini Review) and found a lot to like about them.
Black Canary follows Dinah Lance as she tries to wade through high school, train in the martial arts, and keep the Court of Owls at bay. In this version of Gotham a lot has changed drastically since the death of Batman and James Gordan. The Court of Owls was once a conservative secret society that pulled all the strings in city politics from the cover of night, but for the past decade they have ruled over Gotham out in the open. And they have created a new society that has taken away all rights for women including advanced schooling and access to certain jobs. To top it off, one of their members has created a way to take all women’s singing voices away and thus Black Canary’s power.
The book starts off with a short introduction to Dinah character and the new city of Gotham. We learn that she has always struggled with following the rules and is now forced to find that balance between what she can do to resist the power of the Owls and what will certainly get her in trouble. And in walks Oliver Queen, a young man who has just lost his parents and has moved to Gotham to live with his wealthy Owl-favoring uncle. An attraction is felt and a conflict created… Dinah has long been at the bottom of the social ladder and is now gaining attention from someone who sits at the cool lunch table. This relationship and Black Canary’s fight for her voice and equal rights creates the tension that moves the novel forward.
Pros: The reimagined city of Gotham ruled by the Court of Owls. I read a book a couple years ago just focused on The Court of Owls by Greg Cox and I loved it. And Monir sets up these old rich guys as truly ruthless… Once the superheros were defeated, a group of super-enforcers called Talons became the ones who roamed the city looking for code-breakers. Is there enough of a resistance to take them on?
Cons (for me): I want to preface this by saying that I may not be the audience for this book… and others may like the things that struck me as ok… The romance. I would have liked to get to know Dinah a little better befor the introduction of Oliver. Sure, he’s an interesting character, but there he is on the first page of chapter 2 looking all hot and new-kidish. It was a little too much, too soon for me.
Black Canary is a book that has been blurbed as The Handmaid’s Tale in a superhero world. An audience of YA and older reads will certainly be intrigued by this story of defiance. I do want to point out that while I like Batman, I’m not the best Gotham scholar and didn’t really know a lot about Black Canary’s character beforehand. This was not a problem at all. Monir lays it all out well and provides action and feelings in a very good origin story.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley, DC Comics, and the author for an advanced copy for review.