Batman: Nightwalkers (DC Icons #2) by Marie Lu
Being a Batman fan is not a prerequisite to enjoy this story, in fact, very few bats are mentioned at all. Lu does a good job of weaving in the basics of Bruce’s story, making him a sympathetic and likable billionaire. Those details are the same - his guardian is the ever faithful Alfred, his parents died during a robbery when he was young, and Wayne Industries is on the cutting edge of technological inventions. From there, she takes Bruce on a ride he soon won’t forget.
The Nightwalker gang is stalking wealthy philanthropists in Gotham City and using advanced technology, taking their money right out from under them. And, lately, they’ve added murder to the repertoire. They justify this robbery of the rich because they give it to the poor, except that hasn’t happened yet. Madeline Wallace, a Nightwalker member, is cunning, beautiful, beguiling, and good at what she does until she gets caught by Gotham police. She’s put in the famous Arkham Asylum when it’s clear her behavior is more than just the average criminal. Bruce is given community service after “interfering with a crime scene, disobeying a police officer’s orders, and obstructing justice” when he attempts to go after a Nightwalker being chased by police. It’s not his fault the police cars weren’t fast enough to catch him, and his brand new Aston Martin tricked out by Wayne Industries was. He’s given five weeks of community service, and the officer working with him is intent on putting him in his place as he is assigned to work at Arkham Asylum. He’s sweeping floors and cleaning toilets in the women's wing, all while listening to the crude and lewd remarks from the inmates. Now he knows how his best friend Dianne feels. But what he finds most interesting is the mysterious inmate who won’t talk to the police no matter how hard they try. Four months she’s been there, and no words until one day he walks past her cell, and she does. Bruce is fascinated by Madeline and her ability to read him, and his desire to open up to her. They share a connection and Bruce isn’t so sure she’s the criminal she makes out to be. As Bruce tries to figure out Madeline, the Nightwalkers have struck one of Gotham’s own and Madeline warns Bruce that he’s next on the list. Why would she, a Nightwalker, warn him? As the mystery begins to unravel, Bruce has one chance to reveal the Nightwalkers as his foray into vigilante justice is beginning. And, in true Wayne fashion his sense of guilt from his parent's murder, coupled with his need to do something, anything puts him and the ones he loves in danger. Lu’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne, as a teenager, is spot-on and I can clearly envision him turning into the Batman that I know and love. My only disappointment with this book is there isn’t a Batcave, superhero costume, or bat signal. Not sure if this book is the right place to put it, but I would be very disappointed not to see it in the future, especially with the opening the ending gives. Tons of action and a creepy, almost Hannibal Lecter style character in Madeline (minus the whole eating people thing), and some great twists and turns make this an easy and entertaining book. Bonus points for being a quick read!