Book Review: Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Black Widow Forever Red
Series: A Marvel YA Novel
by Margaret Stohl
On Sale Date: October 13, 2015
Juvenile Fiction \ Action & Adventure
Ages 12 to 18, Grades 7 to 12
Marvel Press
Hardcover, 416 pages

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. 

Margaret Stohl brings the Black Widow to the YA audience and begins an exciting new chapter in comic adventure giving readers and fans of this iconic Marvel superheroine her time center stage. 

Through the use of flashbacks, Black Widow, Forever Red takes new fans of the Black Widow and opens the doors to the hidden world of a young Natasha Romanoff, the villain Ivan Somodorov (Ivan the Strange) and the infamous Red Room. Comic fans will get another look into the secret Soviet "Black Widow" program's history.

I loved getting a behind the scenes look at what makes our heroine, Agent Natasha Romanoff - A.K.A. Black Widow, A.K.A. Natasha Romanova, tick. A flawed, imperfect, and kick-ass heroine who is anything but stereotypical! She reminds me of why I'm often drawn to anti-heroes, those who are on the edge! 

The story weaves in bits-n-pieces from a young Natasha and her childhood being trained as an assassin and spy in Moscow, to her recent addition to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency and her help with the Avengers. The story also uses interview transcripts between the Black Widow and S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Phillip Coulson that I really enjoy - giving the book a whole "top secret" feel. 

The pace is fast and entertaining with a globetrotting plotline that felt much like a side story of one of the superhero stories. I was worried at first about how much I would enjoy the additional teen characters, Ava Orlova, and Alex Manor, but their ties became an intricate part of the storyline plot and I'm excited at the direction Margaret Stohl is taking it. By the end of the story, it becomes very clear, if not already familiar, what the tie-in is for the name Forever Red, which I'm really excited about. Though not a focus, there's a touch of romantic interest that happens behind the scenes that fans of Stohl's seriously swoony book-boyfriends will enjoy. 

From cameos (Tony Stark) and pop-culture references (Star Trek) to our favorite Marvel heroes and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency to the past of Black Widow - Black Widow, Forever Red did a great job of tying it all together for a YA audience, all the while setting up for some exciting future stories.

Black Widow Forever Red is an entertaining new series for fans of the Marvel Comics and Avengers, readers who like strong, atypical heroines, adventure and kicking villains butt!

My Rating: 4 stars. I liked it!

Please Note: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Marvel Press / Disney Book Group in exchange for my fair and honest review. Thank you, Marvel Press / Disney Book Group for review opportunity.