Title: Shuri: A Black Panther Novel
Author: Nic Stone
Published: June 2020
Readership: Middle Grade
I received a copy of Shuri: A Black Panther Novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
An original, upper middle grade series starring the break-out character from the Black Panther comics and films: T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri! Crafted by New York Timesbestselling author Nic Stone. Shuri is a skilled martial artist, a genius, and a master of science and technology. But, she’s also a teenager. And a princess. This middle grade series follows Shuri as she sets out on a quest to save her homeland of Wakanda.
For centuries, the Chieftain of Wakana (the Black Panther) has gained his powers through the juices of the Heart Shaped Herb. Indeed, even Shuri herself has gained powers from this mythical herb, which grows only in Wakanda. Much like Vibranium, the Heart Shaped Herb is essential to the survival and prosperity of Wakanda. But something is wrong. The plants are no longer growing. No matter what the people of Wakanda do, they can’t create new herbs. And their supply is running short. It’s up to Shuri to travel from Wakanda in order to discover what is killing the Herb, and how she can save it, in this all-new, original series.
By now, many long-time readers of my blog, or follows of my Youtube channel, know that I’m a huge Marvel film fan, and really enjoy following along with each new film. Black Panther was an incredibly huge film, for many reasons, but one of the absolute break-out characters to come from it was Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister, tech genius and all-round badass. I’ve only read a few of the MCU’s middle grade character fiction stories, but when I saw this one I knew I had to give it a shot, because Shuri is one of those characters that I still have lots of questions about, post-films.
Shuri, the novel, is an original story of the character – there are elements that remain from the MCU films, but the story itself is quite different, so keep that in mind when reading. T’Challa is about to participate in the challenge to ensure his ascension to the throne, and everyone – including Shuri – is eager for this to take place. Through Shuri, we learn about the importance of Vibranium and the Heart Shaped Herb which play a large role in the Black Panther story, and how it’s integral to Wakanda’s survival. When Shuri discovers that the Heart Shaped Herb is dying, she decides to embark on a dangerous mission that will take her away from her homeland in an effort to save it, even when it means disobeying her family.
This was a really fun story that allowed us to learn more about Shuri, her family and Wakanda through Shuri’s eyes. At the beginning of this book, she’s more focused on her inventions and has not put too much thought into her martial arts training, but once she leaves the safety of Wakanda, she begins to learn a lot about herself and the wider world. Her growth as a character from start to finish is huge.
It was also nice to have additional nods to the wider Marvel universe in the book, with Ororo Monroe/Storm from the X-Men (who has her own ties to the Black Panther storylines) also playing a role in parts. Rather than being a standalone story in one aspect of the Marvel world, this addition made it feel part of the greater universe and one in which readers can identify very familiar characters.
Younger fans of the MCU will enjoy this exploration of world and character, especially through the eyes of a female heroine who is strong and independent. I’m very glad I read it and hope that others will enjoy it as well.