DNF @ p. 121
I get into a lot of trouble with people when I tell them, in all seriousness, that Batman & Robin is my favorite Batman movie. I know it's bad in the same way that the Super Mario Bros. movie is bad, and I love that movie too. Some of the people I tell this to try to give me an out and say, "You mean the Val Kilmer Batman movie?" And I'm just like, "No. I mean the one with George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger." At that point they usually looked pained and sometimes even say aloud, "Oh god no..." and I'm like, "BITCH, I WILL FIGHT YOU."
I bring this up because people often say that Batman & Robin is one of the WORST adaptations of the Batman franchise - when they're not pointing the finger at Halle Barry's Catwoman, that is. To those people, I say, only, "Read this book."
Sarah J. Maas is an author that I have a LOT of problems with. It's not that I hate romance - I love romance. It's not that I hate fantasy - I love fantasy. It's not that I hate YA, or camp, or strong heroines. It's that she does them all INCREDIBLY BADLY, and yet her fans hype her up like she's a dual act of the second coming of Jesus AND a free Taylor Swift concert. And I literally don't understand why, because I think that everything she writes is awful.
To her credit, I've been able to finish everything she wrote before. With heavy skimming, especially with some of the longer books, but I could get to the end. With CATWOMAN: SOULSTEALER, I could not even do that. It was bad. Worse than that garbage, EMPIRE OF STORMS, even.
Maas turned CATWOMAN into one of those broken women who become bad-assed because they're damaged (she's literally a teen prostitute on welfare who fights in a street gang and steals to help her sick sister). Then she goes to an al Ghul assassin school - which Maas skips over because that might be interesting - and comes back gloating about her physical prowess and how awesome her makeup looks, which if that sounds familiar - GUESS WHAT? That's every heroine Maas writes in a nutshell. Sometimes it felt like I was literally reading about goddamn Celaena in a fancy Iron Manesque cat suit. "Look at these fancy data readouts... also, do my nails look okay?" Like, fucking spare me.
Maas also totally ruins Harley Quinn AND Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy was always so seductive and independent, and say what you like about the Batman & Robin movie (just remember: I will fight you), but Uma Thurman TOTALLY nailed that vampy, bad-ass role. When she comes out of that smokey pit of demon plants in her Jane-from-Tarzan outfit and kills the heck out of that guy, it was ~a moment.~ She makes Batman and Robin fight over her in a bidding war at a Definitely Not a Sex Auction. It was over the top and so was she, but you never for a moment doubted that she was in control. Here, Poison Ivy is this super clingy character who desperately NEEDS Catwoman's help and is super jealous and insecure over Harley Quinn.
I have always liked Harley and Ivy's friendship but I did not like this relationship between them. Not because I don't ship them as a couple, but because it was so toxic - and Ivy has always been a positive influence in Harley's life to counteract the Joker's poisonous influence. And this Harley is super whiny and childlike, a punk-ass bitch version of Harley, and it was gross and I wanted no part of it. I am totally willing to ship Harley and Ivy but not as some pathetic co-dependent relationship. #Nope
Then there's Luke Fox who could be interesting if his character couldn't be boiled down to three words: PTSD, black, too rich to function. All of these things are handled very badly, and while I get that black people of ALL economic stations face tons of BS for their skin color, it felt very transparently off for Maas, an arguably well-off white woman, to make him a black character who is as rich as Croesus (probably 2nd only to the Waynes), neatly side-stepping the issue of talking about serious disparity or inequality (even though I'm pretty sure that the people in Catwoman's childhood girl gang were implied to be people of color). Bravo, how deep. Good job being woke.
Between the fact that this felt like a THRONE OF GLASS/Batman crossover fanfic that was written over the course of several days with no editing, and the utter lack of solid characterization or witty (I mean witty, not sarcastic little shits trading playground insults a la Celaena "I'm So Great and You're Not" Sardothien) that I expect from DC, this felt like a lame attempt to cash in on Maas's success and the DC/Marvel superheroes craze. The only way this could be more of a cash cow is if it mooed actual $100 bills.
1 out of 5 stars