The ‘Wonder Woman’ novelization is better off an audiobook for the blind (review)

In lieu of the one-year anniversary of DC’s critically acclaimed box office hit Wonder Woman, I thought that it’d be cool to revisit the story of Diana Prince via its movie novelization, a book published last year to coincide with the film’s release.

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I always had a thing for novelizations when I was a child. When I was nine, I kept eyeing a friend’s copy of the X2 novelization, and eventually got my parent to buy me one. Experiencing these blockbuster movies again in complete, narrative prose always fascinated me, but being a kid back then, some of these books were quite tough to read. Sometimes the filmmakers commissioned junior novelizations as well, but those are written for seven-year olds.

Wonder Woman: The Official Movie Novelization is my first film novelization as an adult; that is, if you don’t count the novelization of the Arkham Knight video game I read three years ago. That book was one dreadful retelling of the game.

Unfortunately, this novelization, written by New York Times Bestselling author Nancy Holder, isn’t significantly better.

The book offers nothing new that we haven’t already seen and heard from the movie, which is disappointing. I always felt that Wonder Woman was lacking that additional X factor I hoped the book will fill in. Instead, it follows the movie too faithfully and fails to extend scenes or provide untold backstory, something few novelization writers like Chris Claremont do brilliantly.

Some movie moments are simplified into soulless one-liners void of emotion, such as the instance when Captain Steve Trevor yields to the Lasso of Truth and yells, “I am a… I am a spy!” In the book, the author retells it this way: “”I’m a… spy,” Steve Trevor said.” That was casual.

The Captain’s recount of his first encounter with Doctor Poison is presented in the movie as a narrated flashback. In the book, the author shifts abruptly into a third-person narrative from Steve Trevor’s view, exercising no artistic licence to present the story more effectively for a written book.

Many humorous scenes lose their charm, including the Captain’s bath scene in Themyscira, which was written so awkwardly, you could tell the author was uncomfortable discussing Steve Trevor’s “above average” appendage.

I fought my way reading this book till the Battle of Veld, which was the turning point in the film after which the story started deteriorating for me. Surprisingly, the author captured the skirmish in illustrious detail… except I didn’t need it because that’s what the movie was for.

I gave up the book after that battle scene. That’s nothing it can give me that I haven’t already gotten from the movie.

I wish this book delivered more heart than action. That is after all what novelizations are meant to do. I can only wonder if Holder was tasked to write a carbon copy of the film with zero room for anecdotal insertions, or if it was her own idea to sit by the table and transcribe a digital copy of the film second by second.

Wonder Woman: The Official Movie Novelization is not a necessary novelization. The only good use I can think for it is if it were recorded as an audiobook for the blind community that cannot enjoy the movie’s visuals.

This book deserves a 1/5, but I’m giving a half-point more since it adapted a source material that was generally good. Following this, I highly doubt I’ll foray back into novelizations ever again.

Rating: 1½/5

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