Novelizations of films have been around a long time; one of the first being King Kong (1933). In the 1960s and 1970s they became very popular. What’s the appeal? Before the advent of home video (VHS and then DVD), a novelization was often the only way to re-experience the film. And yet, even now, when DVDs are available at very reasonable cost, there's still a commercial market for film tie-in novelizations.
It's no mean feat to write a novelization. Bear in mind that the usual length of a film script is much shorter than a novel; my film script for my vampire crime thriller Chill of the Shadow came to 120 pages, 22,500 words, while the book’s word-count was 80,000. Those additional words provide the reader additional visuals, backstory, and characters’ introspection.
The main problems for the writer of a novelization are that they may be working from an early script and they have a very tight deadline, possibly as little as a week or two. Novelizations are invariably published prior to a film’s release. This can be seen in Dewey Gram’s version of Gladiator, an excellent book: there were scenes in his novelization that did not appear in the theatre release, though ultimately they were reinstated in the Director’s Cut.
Prolific author Nancy Holder has done a sterling job with her Wonder Woman novelization.
The book begins, as does the film, in the present, in Paris, where Diana Prince, the Curator of Antiquities worked in the Louvre Museum. She receives a package from Wayne Industries, a sepia photograph – ‘a moment of triumph frozen in time, shared by the four unsmiling, heavily armed men who bracketed her. Though the monochrome photo couldn’t show it, the eyes of the man standing to her right had been intensely blue, as blue as the sea that surrounded Themyscira, the island of her birth…’ A hundred years ago. When Wonder Woman came into being.
Then we travel to the past, to Themyscira, and the childhood of Princess Diana, a wayward child who is fascinated by the history of the Amazons, the inhabitants of the island, a place where no man lives. Long-lived, they train as warriors in order to combat the last surviving god, Ares. Holder evokes humour and mischief as Diana, the only child on the island, grows into young womanhood.
Scenes shift neatly, until Diana witnesses something other than a bird plummeting from the sky and falling into the sea. She dives to investigate – and rescues the pilot, Steve Trevor, from a sinking airplane. Happily, the Amazons are fluent in many of Earth’s languages. The interchange between the pair is of wonder on both sides, leavened with mystery and amusement.
It transpires that Steve is a spy, fleeing from German General Ludendorff and his warped scientist, Dr Maru. This evil pair has concocted the means to prolong the War to End All Wars at a time when Germany is seeking armistice.
Diana joins forces with Steve to combat this menace, and in the process witnesses the inhumanity of war - and also the selflessness and bravery exhibited.
Skilled actors can convey emotions and to a certain extent their character’s thought processes. And in the movie they do just that. Holder then gives their thoughts and fears life on the page, whether that’s the naivety of Diana or the pure evil of Ludendorff and his acolyte.
If you haven’t seen the film and yet are curious about the character, then this book will offer an intriguing and adventurous tale, well told. If you have seen the film, then this provides further insight for several characters, not only Diana, and as you read you will visualise again many of the scenes.
An exciting story, told with pace, wit and affection. A pity about the poor editing.
As stated above, it’s highly likely that a tight deadline was set for the book, so in the rush a large number of errors have not been corrected. Considering it would only take a couple of hours to read the book, I still find the quantity inexcusable. To begin with, I glossed over most typos, but eventually I felt compelled to highlight some; the following should have been spotted:
‘Diana moved passed it…’ Should be ‘past it’. (p78)
‘So let’s you and I remind them, shall we?’ Should be ‘you and me’… (p95) [Drop the other subject (you) and what are you left with? So let I remind them, which is silly; So let me remind them, however, works.]
… she didn’t feel the cold as he died. (p144) Should be ‘as he did’.
‘Steve leaped off his horse…’ and then 11 lines further down, ‘He swung down from the saddle…’ (without having remounted!) (p209)
‘… she gripped the horse’s mane and pressed her things against its flanks,’ (p211) Instead of ‘things’, it should be ‘thighs’
‘Diana gave the horse a nudge with her spurs…’ (p211) Where’d she get her spurs from? She’s wearing Amazon boots under her misappropriated dress and at no time did she fasten on spurs. ‘Nudged with her booted heels’ would work.
‘…Every sense fired as she the truth crashed down on her.’ (p237) That rogue ‘she’ should have been excised.
‘The weapons were being stored back in the aft (of the plane)…’ (p242) ‘back aft’ or ‘aft’ would suffice.
‘The team’s objective had just spit into two…’ (p242) That ‘spit’ should be ‘split’.
‘… and he ran them hand along the magical rope.’ (p253) ‘them hand’ probably should be ‘his hands’ or ‘those hands’.
***Note: There is also a DC Icon young adult novel about Wonder Woman, Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, which has received good reviews on Amazon.