Title: Black Widow: Forever Red (Black Widow #1)
Author: Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Marvel Press
Publication date: October 13th 2015
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.
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.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)
When I found out that Margaret Stohl would be writing a YA novel about the Black Widow, I was really apprehensive about it. I wasn't a fan of her Beautiful Creatures series (the books were dull and boring, in my opinion) and Icons series (I read the first one and it was just a confused mess). I didn't want to set my expectations too high but dammit, I really wanted a badass superhero book worthy of the Black Widow and her awesomeness. Unfortunately, that wasn't what I got...
The story mainly focused on Ava Orlov and her insta-love (yes, insta-love) interest, Alex Manor and their shenanigans without the Black Widow when all I wanted was the Black freaking Widow. I would have been totally fine without the romance aspect in the novel because it would have left extra room for the more exciting bits to be developed; and the romance wasn't even done well. One look then BOOM love, love, love. (Even Natasha Romanov noted how quickly their relationship progressed.)
The characters in Black Widow: Forever Red had zero personalities. Majority of the characters were so stiff and the dialogues felt forced. I couldn't enjoy their quips and comebacks without pausing to see if it was meant to be a joke or not, the aura was just so serious. I felt that if Margaret Stohl wanted the book to be serious, she should have stayed consistent and not forced the humour. However, I will give .5 for Agent Coulson because even though his interactions with Natasha were awkward at best, he did make comments that made me smile; and I will give another .5 for Tony Stark because even though Margaret Stohl didn't capture Stark's dry humour and natural snark, she did try and it was an okay effort.
If you expect for there to be some heinous villain in this novel, you will be sorely disappointed. About 90% of this book revolves around Ava and Alex, another 5% dedicated to Natasha and the last 5% to Ian Somodorov (the guy they're suppose to go against). It was like Margaret Stohl forgot what her own story was about, got sidetracked and then saw a random Post-it on her desk that said "main characters must beat up Ian Somodorov" leading her back to the initial plot but went "eh" and decided to keep what she'd already written even though they were just filler chapters. Whatever fight scenes this book had lacked excitement and that made it so hard for me to enjoy them. Everything just felt so boring for me. I will give another .5 to this novel because Margaret Stohl did her research well (at least it seemed that way), this book was filled with so much scientific jargon that I just decided to believe whatever the heck it said (quantum entanglement? Okay).
All in all, this book was no good for me. This is the third strike for Margaret Stohl and I definitely won't be reading any of her future books.