Ever since I was a child, Batman was part of my life. It didn’t matter if it was reruns of the Adam West incarnation or a cartoon, even Tim Burton’s. As I grew up, my love for Batman grew stronger and more prominent to the point that now I call myself a Batmanologist. This review is not going to be pretty. Brace for impact.
*** Note that I have nothing against Marie Lu, as I never read one of her novels. I am only critiquing her Batman Nightwalker novel alone.
Spoiler Alert. ***
Batman Nightwalker Official Summary
The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list. Bruce is turning eighteen and inheriting his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Industries and all the tech gadgetry that he could ever desire.
However, on the way home from his birthday party, he makes an impulsive choice that leads to community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison. There, he meets Madeleine Wallace, a brilliant killer with ties to the Nightwalkers.
A girl who would only speak to Bruce. She is the mystery he must unravel, but is he convincing her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees?
Bruce Wayne is proof that you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero, but can he survive Madeleine’s game of tense intrigue and deception?
I’m Giving It ONE STAR For Effort
Let’s do an overall look of the novel first. If I have to read, see, or hear the words Aston Martin one more in my life, so help me – something terrible is going to happen. I believe that everything that could be somewhat enjoyable from the novel happened in the last 50 pages, minus the ending that isn’t even worth mentioning.
The novel itself could easily be a hundred pages, and it would be more than enough to tell the story. The feel of the novel is wrong. The image the author gave of Bruce Wayne was a whiney, naive, innocent, doormat, young adult, and this proves that her research on the character itself was less than impressive. In fact, I am not sure any research was really done.
I could see whether it was on purpose or not, that she used the same amount of examples twice with inmates and murders. I read my share of repetitive sections, overly long expositions, and needless fillers, that took away from the story she was telling. The end result was this – many sections were not required to be present to have the story move forward.
The most important part – the title might be Batman, but there is no Batman, only Bruce Wayne at the age of eighteen.
At the age of eighteen, Bruce Wayne would be studying criminology and sciences. We know such information from the Earth One Batman series. Bruce also possesses an IQ that would be 192, which is realistically unattainable, however, this would have him classified as a genius.
His desire to possess the education necessary to bring justice is due to the promise he made himself when his parents died. As a result, Bruce uses his IQ and intensive studies to learn more about the subject.
However, in this Nightwalker novel, we see Bruce Wayne as being in average levels of IQ, and his new friend Dianne is portrayed as being the genius. The overall portrayal of Bruce is one of an overly naive and broken young man.
The mentioning of his parents’ death is continuously shoved in our faces, making Bruce come out as whiney, which he is not. We all know about the death of Bruce’s parents. We don’t need to read it over twenty times in a short amount of pages.
Dragging Bruce Wayne In The Dirt
As I read the novel, I realized quite a few times that the denigration of Bruce is often present. As a result, what I felt was that the author didn’t know the character well and didn’t bother to learn about him. Moreover, I was at the point where I wanted to count the number of bullies he had throughout the entire book.
The depiction of Bruce in the novel is one of a young man who doesn’t know how to fight. He trains in the gym, knows how to throw a punch, he knows how to act in front of paparazzi, but would rather be anywhere else than at the place that he is throughout the entire book.
Of all the dialog in the novel, and it is not that much, Bruce Wayne is probably the one that speaks the least. We know Batman to be silent, but we usually are in his head and his mind, the book does not give this personal, intimate feel Batman’s writers give us, such as Scott Snyder or Tony S. Daniel.
“Never trust tech. Anything made to your advantage can also be used against you.” — MadeleineDC Comics Icons, Batman Nightwalker by Marie Lu
The Premise Makes No Sense
So, Bruce is feeling horrible at his eighteenth birthday party after a fight with his old friend Richard Price—the only child of Gotham City’s Mayor. He leaves the luxurious building with the new high tech AI.
Aston Martin (btw, that’s 007, wrong franchise and wrong spy/detective) modified by WayneTech and listens to the police sirens. He witnesses a pursuit and decides to intervene after driving through the slums of Gotham right next to the wealthy parts.
After causing a car accident, therefore, stopping the driver the police were chasing, Bruce Wayne must face the consequences. What is the result, something that no one would let happen to a young man who witnessed his parents died in front of him by a nobody criminal who only wanted money?
Bruce Wayne has to do community service at Arkham Asylum. We are talking about the prison for the highest dangerous criminally insane sociopaths.
Bruce Wayne, eighteen years of age, a day-old billionaire who has no criminal background of any kind, an IQ of a genius, awarded student, need I go on?
Let’s Bully The Rich Boy
Furthermore, the one assigned to him to make sure he does his community service, at first treats him like a brat. To this point in the story, Bruce never showed a selfish behavior; she doesn’t know him at all and yet, criticizes him before Alfred Pennyworth, who doesn’t do anything about it. All Bruce does throughout the book is to nod and accept his fate.
Further, in the story, Bruce is a victim of bullying by this Detective Daccon. Moreover, It doesn’t stop there. Not only he does he suffers from psychological abuse, but he goes through a constant reminder of his privileges as a rich boy.
He has thrown in his face phrases like, “he never worked a day in his life.” His babysitter looking out for him is a joke to them. Furthermore, Bruce is a joke to Dr. James at Arkham Asylum and security.
So, the book has this subtitle: Nightwalker. Until halfway in the novel, the reader doesn’t know what it means or what it is. So, we have many filler scenes. We go through various descriptions. To the best of my knowledge, as a reader of both comic books and novels, it is too much. This is Batman. I want a fast pace and action.
Instead, Bruce Wayne is going through abuse. The judging without reason because they don’t know him at all becomes redundant and annoying.
Alfred, What Happened?
The beloved character of Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred became Bruce’s official guardian when his parents died before his eyes (see how redundant that becomes?)
However, to Bruce’s eyes, Alfred became a role model, a mother, and a father. Alfred is the man he wants to make proud and show that he can live up to become a Wayne. Alfred is Bruce’s pillar, doctor, confident, and friend.
Fans of Batman know that Alfred is a British veteran who served in the military. He has martial art and boxing skills. The author decided to make him part of the Royal Air Force. Sorry, he was a doctor on the field like in MASH, and that is why in the comic books we see Alfred patching up Batman regularly. It explains why Bruce Wayne rarely goes to the hospital.
Alfred would fight for Bruce. He would defend him, and make sure that he would not go to a mental detention center surrounded by criminals. Alfred, despite Bruce being eighteen, would still see the boy—like any parent, and protect the one he swore to raise as his child.
The only action we have from Alfred is when he finally wakes up after the home invasion at the Wayne Manor. Finally, the family Butler decides to take Bruce’s side and help him. We’re at the climax of the story at this point. I’m just saying.
Some True Facts
In the novel, you can find some accurate background that is mostly fillers if you ask me. The characters the author uses from the Batman universe are Harvey Dent whom she made Bruce Wayne’s best friend, Dent’s father who is a politician and abuses Harvey daily, Alfred Pennyworth, one ‘Easter egg’ of James Gordon at the end, and maybe one or two more.
Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne, according to the animated series of the nineties, were friends. How far back it goes, remains a mystery. The fact that she made them best friends didn’t bother me. However, going all-in with Bruce’s plan at the climax of the story without questions, that’s quite a friend!
The Triple-Double Cross
Okay, now it’s time for the plot to unfold. The entire novel, Bruce is naive and has his head up his arse because of this eighteen-year-old ‘most dangerous’ inmate of all time. She is a murderer for the Nightwalkers. This classified information comes from Detective Daccon who decides to spill her guts with ‘her brat’ Bruce Wayne.
She also turns him into a ‘double agent’ because this super dangerous killer, Madeleine, only speaks to Bruce and no one else. He tries to remind himself that all she says are lies, so, why send him there in the first place anyway? He ends up doing some clumsy research of his own and follows this Madeleine’s lead to find something about the Nightwalker.
All goes south from there. Bruce develops a crush on Madeleine and has a ‘wet dream’ about her. Then, he believes her. They play this game where they ask each other questions, that to me, leads nowhere. After that, he decides to follow her advice, leads, etc… You name it… I guess you get my point here!
It’s easy to know she’s a villain. I thought she was the leader of the Nightwalkers, but I won’t spoil that for you. All I can say is, of course, she’s a double-crosser. Who isn’t in Gotham City?
There are passages in the novel that are fillers, as mentioned before. However, when the climax of the novel begins, I could recognize Christopher Nolan‘s view of WayneTech and all its technologies. While reading, I recognize his touch. Is that the inspiration to write this novel? If so, is that all she knew about Batman?
No lie, I could see a cross between Nolan’s Batman universe and Iron-Man, mixed with some Robocop. I was speechless. It was clear as day to me. The technological part of the book, which is at the very beginning and the climax section, it screams Nolan and Iron-Man movies.
Any Last Words?
This is my last word, and I try here to remain as cold headed as possible. The cheap shots aimed at Bruce Wayne were hard for me to read. Bruce is a good man, especially during those years. He remained strong and still fought for justice. He wasn’t naive or dumb. Why? Because he grew up with PTSD, night terrors, OCD, and anxiety, besides a few phobias.
One of the quotes I despised the most is this one.
“You have a heavy heart for someone with everything.” — MadeleineDC Comics Icons, Batman Nightwalker by Marie Lu
I took a few deep breaths here. Bruce Wayne lost his parents. I can tell anyone by experience here, inherited whatever it is your parents leave you, is more painful than a stabbing through the heart. I know for a fact that anyone who lost close relatives they loved would give anything they have to have one more moment with them.
Bruce, the night of his parents’ murder, lost absolutely everything, even himself. He became Batman at the age of eight years old. Bruce Wayne is his persona. Batman took over because otherwise, he would not have survived.
So, this ‘heavy’ heart reference despite having everything? He has a heavy heart because he lost everything. Do not judge people by their bank account, or anyone at all. Because no one knows what battle anyone is facing.
I read Batman enough to know that he is the perfect example of not to judge a book by its cover. A motto I should’ve used on that book.
Conclusion: if you don’t know Batman, you might enjoy it. If you know Batman, do not read it.