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It’s no secret that I deeply love Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff. Besides Cap, she’s easily my favorite Avenger and I love what a total Queen Bad Ass she is, not to mention her mastery of a quippy one-liner. So it should be no surprise that I loved Black Widow: Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl — the second in her official Black Widow YA book series. Let’s check out a synopsis of the book below, and then let me list the reasons I loved this book.
The Avengers’ iconic master spy is back, and she’s seeing red.
Emotions are dangerous, which is why the graduates of Moscow’s famed spy school the Red Room are taught to keep their enemies close and their loved ones at a distance. Black Widow and Red Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff and Ava Orlova, forgot that lesson once, and they won’t forget it again.
But the Widows have inherited something else from their shared Moscow past: a relentless need for vengeance—Ivan Somodorov is dead, but his network of terror remains.
While the Widows search South America in order to extinguish a smuggling operation with ties to their old nemesis, their own Red Room not only attempts to assassinate them both but also hacks their secure S.H.I.E.L.D. network. As a result, Ava and Natasha find themselves thrust into a trying mission of international intrigue that takes them throughout the world and back to New York City, where their friends Dante and Sana become unlikely targets as well.
Once again, nothing is as it seems, no one can be trusted, and no one is safe—not unless the Widows can stop a conspiracy involving stolen nuclear warheads, mind-altering chemical weapons, and ultimately, betrayal by old friends and enemies alike.
1. Snark, Perfected. Margie has really mastered Natasha’s snark, sass, and witticisms. I never have any trouble believing that this is the same Black Widow that I’ve come to know and love from the comics and the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movies. But she also brings the young Ava to life just as vividly.
2. Ah, youth! I love the freshness and “next generation” vibe that Ava’s presence brings to the story. She really helps inject some youthfulness into the plot line, and the juxtaposition of her youth against the older, more mature characters makes for a great dynamic throughout the books.
3. Tony Stark. I mean, who dosen’t love Tony Stark? And Margie truly has a gift for writing Tony Stark dialogue, from long, meandering pontifications to his snappy one-liners. It’s as if
Robert Downey, Jr. — I mean, Tony Stark just flies off the page.
4. Carol. Danvers. Mother-Effing. Captain. Marvel. I know, I know. Captain Marvel is getting her own book series. And her own movie. But we don’t have these things yet, so to see her fly into the thick of things in Black Widow: Red Vengeance was really, truly exciting. And she’s AWESOME. (I mean, I already knew this — but Margie really captures her awesomeness perfectly.)
5. Cool Gadgets. Secret Missions. Avengers, Assemble. (Well, almost.) Everything I love about the MCU and the Avengers is boiled down in this book. There are so many great scenes — from full-on action sequences, to debriefings at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, to stealthy spy moves — and a few human interactions to remind us what the Avengers are always fighting for. Plus, Margie does a great job of bringing in some of our other favorite characters besides Natasha (namely Tony Stark, Captain Marvel, and Agent Coulson) — without taking away the spotlight from our two Widows. And let’s be honest: every reference to the other Avengers (Cap, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye) was just a fangirl thrill.
6. Full Circle + Open Endings. Margie does a great job of bringing things full circle to the events that took place in the first Black Widow book, Forever Red, while at the same time opening up new threads to follow in the third book and, hopefully, beyond. It’s nothing too cliff-hanger-y, but it definitely ends on an, “Oh, holy crap!” kind of moment.
If, like me, you can’t wait for the next Avengers movie. And you still want a Black Widow movie. Or you just like kick ass lady heroes and a delightful surprise twist ending (that opens the doors to so many possibilities for the next book), then get yourself a copy of Black Widow: Red Vengeance stat. It’s in stores now.