Cover Image: Diana and the Island of No Return

Diana and the Island of No Return

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Member Reviews

Hurray for Wonder Woman and her hero's heart. In this new title from Aisha Saeed, Diana and her friend Sakina travel by chariot to another island to save Themiscyra. Included in their rescue party is a boy named Augustus who is also trying to save his island of Saz from a demon. The demon wants Diana, but the three are determined to thwart his efforts to bring Diana to an unidentified "He." There are elements of the Hunger Games and Percy Jackson woven in adding interesting dimensions to this new young Diana title. My download also included a preview of the next title in the series --"Diana and the Underworld Odyssey." Looking forward to the next installment in The Wonder Woman Adventures!

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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All hail the middle grade superhero novels! We are - hopefully - getting our long-awaited Wonder Woman 1984 movie this October, so TALK THIS UP. Our tweens and teens have Tempest Tossed, a phenomenal Wonder Woman original graphic novel; middle graders and tweens now have Diana and the Island of No Return, by Aisha Saeed. Here, Diana is a tween herself, a princess forbidden to learn to fight, despite living on an island of warrior women. She's hoping to persuade her mother, Queen Hippolyta, this year... maybe during the festivities, when her best friend, Princess Sakina arrives, they can plan an approach? Before the festivities begin, Diana discovers a stowaway - a BOY - on Sakina's mother's ship, and learns that the entire island of Themyscira has been put under a sleeping spell. Diana and Sakina, the only two awake on the island, must travel with this boy to his island, where a demon lies in wait, wanting to capture Diana. 

This is the first in a Wonder Woman trilogy, and Aisha Saeed wastes no time getting to the action. Diana and Sakina's friendship is well-written and realistic; she creates larger-than-life figures and makes them very human; the girls are giggly best friends who plan to sleep in the same room so they can stay up all night, and yet also ready, at a moment's notice, to go on a dangerous mission to fight a demon and free their mothers. It all comes together beautifully, with great world-building, pacing, and storytelling. I can't wait for the next book.
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https://flapyourhands.com/diana-island-no-return-review/

Diana and the Island of No Return
Aisha Saaed

Diana and the Island of No Return is a middle grade novel (aimed at roughly ages 8 through 12 years old) that focuses on Diana of the Amazons (aka Wonder Woman). It is fast paced, thrilling, and has high stakes from the very first pages. This book is also solidly grounded in friendship. The three main characters - Diana, Sakina, and Augustus - work together to save both Augustus’s realm and Themyscira from a demon who has been paid to capture Diana. I finished this book, sad that it had ended, and absolutely thrilled to see that a sequel, Diana and the Underworld Odyssey, is already in the works.  

I’m a sucker for anything Wonder Woman. From Greg Rucka's runs on the comic to Lauren Faust’s DC Super Hero Girls show, Diana is one of few female characters in mainstream comics that fulfills a specific need for me: she is super-strong and fundamentally invulnerable. The world, quite literally, cannot physically hurt her. When every day brings a new story of violence against marginalized people, Wonder Woman (alongside Captain Marvel and She-Hulk) is an icon of hope for me. 

From the first page of this book, Saaed creates a richly textured world full of memorable characters, beautifully described settings, and eloquent explanations of the different services that each of the islands perform for the gods. The descriptions are perfect for a kid who is somewhere between third and fifth grade, clear and powerful without ever veering into overly wordy. The dialogue, similarly, is identifiable enough to be approachable to a kid while still maintaining a fantastical feel. This is no small feat, and I strongly applaud Saaed for her work here. 

Gradual and Growing Strength

As much as I love Diana at her fully fledged power, Diana and the Island of No Return shows something I love: watching a girl grow into her strength. Diana is about 11 years old, and as both a former 11 year old and the mom to a newly minted 12 year old, I’m all too aware of what it’s like to be inside a body that is growing faster than your brain can keep track of it. At the start of the adventure, Diana doesn’t have her traditional powers or tools; she’s just an Amazon girl. Her desires are simple. She wants her mother, Queen Hippolyta, to let her start her warrior training and she wants to spend the festival week with her best friend, Sakina. She is already brave and loyal, two of the qualities that have always characterized Wonder Woman; she does not, however, have the superpowers that we are used to from Wonder Woman stories. She sets out on her adventure with the Lasso of Truth that she has stolen, a sword, and her friends. 

Over the course of the story, however, we begin to see Diana’s powers emerge in moments of extreme need. In particular, her superstrength starts to make itself known. She doesn’t have time to marvel at how metal suddenly shatters in her hands like glass, however; she has to stop a demon and save the people she loves most. Although Diana is afraid, and that fear is made clear to the reader, Diana’s bravery never falters. She encourages her friends and believes that no matter what happens, they have to do everything they can to save their worlds from the demon. Even when it is revealed that the demon has come to steal Diana away to a master whose identity is unknown, Diana does not try to run away. Through her actions, Diana exemplifies the truism that bravery is being afraid, and doing it anyway.  


Centered on Friendship and Trust

Diana and the Island of No Return features themes of friendship and trust on every page. The friendship between Sakina and Diana is obvious and clear from the beginning; unlike some books, where best friends are actually sort of awful, Sakina is clearly a wonderful and dear friend to Diana. She tells Diana that she has been allowed to begin training in her island’s library, but when she finds out that Diana has not yet been allowed to start warrior training, she immediately clarifies that she’s not doing anything more exciting than dusting books. Augustus lies to Diana, causing her to doubt her friend. Diana is horrified at the thought that Sakina could have treated Augustus badly, but she also takes his claims seriously — until he admits that he’s lying under the power of the lasso of truth. When Diana explains herself to Sakina, she is obviously hurt that Diana could have thought Augustus’s lies were true; she is also glad that Diana did what she thought was right. 

When the trio arrives at Augustus’s island, they need to trust him. They don’t do so blindly; Augustus’s actions show that he wants to defeat the demon and save his town, and that he only followed the demon’s orders because he didn’t see any other way to save his family and friends. Diana and Sakina warm to him slowly, but their trust helps them survive the final battle. Diana is, ultimately, the one who saves the day, but it is perfectly clear that she never could have done so without Augustus and Sakina at her side. 

What did I think of ‘Diana and the Island of No Return’?

Because I’m a nerd raising nerds, my kids are thoroughly steeped in stories about superheroes, magical adventures, and power that comes from both outside and within. My younger daughter is right in the perfect age bracket for this book, and when she saw the cover as I was reading, she let out a squeal of joy. I will absolutely be buying a copy of this book for her shelves. I’m delighted by everything in Diana and the Island of No Return, and I am eagerly looking forward to its sequel. 

Diana and the Island of No Return releases on July 14, 2020. 

I received a free e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This Wonder Woman story of Princess Diana as a young girl is not noteworthy because of its groundbreaking storytelling, but more for the fact that the series and story is by a Pakistani-American Muslim author.  I am not sure how authors are assigned or chosen to  write these reimagined character series, but I think it is a great compliment to her writing and a great mainstream representation of diversity that we should celebrate.  Even more exciting is the subtle addition of Diana's best friend, Princess Sakina, daughter of Queen Khadijah to the story, and that while they are citizens of fictitious world of Greek gods, they seem to spout Islamic wisdom on occasion, and be equally strong and important to the adventure at hand.  The book is meant for middle grades and at 288 pages is a fun light read for girls and boys of all ages.

SYNOPSIS:

Young Diana is anxiously waiting for the start of the yearly Chara Festival, when strong women from all over the world come to her island home of Themyscira to celebrate their different cultures and strengths.  Most of all Diana is waiting to spend the week with her best friend Sakina.  Frustrated that her mother is not allowing her to train with the other Amazonian women, Sakina listens to her and they hope to persuade Queen Hippolyta that this is the year.  

As the women are arriving and gathering in the palace, Diana discovers a boy near the ships, Augustus.  Boys are not allowed on Themyscira.  There is no exception, but when all the women in the palace are drugged  to sleep, her and Sakina are forced to trust him to try and save their loved ones.

Augustus confesses that a demon has hypnotized everyone on his island home, and that he was told to break the spell he needed to bring Princess Diana to the demon.  With no options and determined to prove her self, Diana and Sakina and her trusty bird fly off on a chariot to another world.

With tests around every corner, literally, the trio has to work together, to stay alive, gather the ingredients to make a potion to save the people on both islands, and push themselves to be brave.

WHY I LIKE IT:

So the story is ok, it is fun, I'm sure most kids that like superheroes and even many that don't will enjoy the quick paced plot of the story.  There are definitely little nuggets of inspiration and motivation that make the book a positive influence on the reader.  The trio discuss bravery and how being scared doesn't make you less brave, they encourage one another to push themselves and they forgive each other when they make mistakes.

 Sakina and her people are scholars and on occasion says deep thoughts.  She says at one point, "My mother always says we are supposed to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong." Which is a general principal, but the word choice sounds a lot like Surah 3 verse 110 "enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong," 

FLAGS:

There is talk of Zeus and the other gods.  There is lying.

TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:

I probably wouldn't do this as a book club book, but I would definitely encourage kids to read it.  I think muslim kids will get a kick out of seeing the names Sakina and Khadijah in the book and feel like its a bit of a shoutout, which I think is awesome.  It seems like it is book one in a three part series, so I hope to have my kids read them all and make sure the 3rd-5th grade teachers at their school have them as well.
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This is a story of Diana as a young girl.  She is wishing to be trained but her mother is resisting.  When women and girls from other islands come to her home for a festival Diana is very excited, especially because she will see her best friend.  But when a boy shows up things get weird.  First, he shouldn't be there.  Then everyone except Diana and her friend are impacted by a potion that puts them all to sleep.  Augustus knows he can make a cure but they have to go back to his island where a demon has the whole island hypnotized and he is waiting to capture Diana.
There was some good action here and readers might enjoy it just for that.  For those familiar with Diana's story the ill recognize some names and objects.
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Thank you so much to net galley for sending me a copy of this book. I was really expecting to enjoy this book and I ended up falling in love with it!
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As an avid Wonder Woman fan, I thought this book was cute and fun. I was not totally engaged by the plot, but I think younger readers will enjoy the story, especially as the movie keeps getting pushed back! Saeed does Wonder Woman and the Amazons justice in a quick read good for light summer reading.
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Princess Diana of the Amazons has been anxiously anticipating this year’s Chará festival, when esteemed women from all around the world come to visit Themyscira. Mostly, what she’s looking forward to is spending time with her best friend Sakina - and hopefully convincing Queen Hippolyta to finally let her really train as a warrior. But on the tail of their visitors arrives a boy, and with him danger. With the Amazons indisposed, will Diana and her two friends be able to save the day - or are they truly too young for the task?

A new series perfect for fans of Rick Riordan Presents; I anticipate this title (and its sequels) flying off of my library’s shelves (digitally and physically). Aisha Saeed’s writing is both lyrical and easy to read, and in her protagonists she’s created relatable, strong characters kids are sure to love. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a good Wonder Woman tale?
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I have read many versions of Winder Woman, and this is one of the best. There is rich world-building that depicts a different world of Themyscira and the nations near it. I thought the adventure was very fast-paced and had a mysterious atmosphere. Overall, this is novel is about friendship and acceptance. I recommend this novel not only for middle schoolers but to any fans of D. C. Comics. This is a novel not be missed.
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In Aisha Saeed's Diana and the Island of No Return, readers are given a glimpse into the early Amazonian life of DC's classic Wonder Woman.. Though readers are familiar with Diana from years of exposure to the familiar, famous, female character, Saeed's take on Diana is refreshing, introducing readers to a side of Diana that is rarely seen.

As a fun middle-grade novel, I very much appreciated reading about Diana's adventures -- from seeing her loyalty and helpfulness as a friend, to her determination/"muchness" to become a warrior,  I was constantly smiling at the different yet similar traits of this younger Diana. 

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this book, and while some of it was clearly exposition/set, I didn't mind it due to the fact that this book left me excited for more in the series! Not only am I thrilled to read more about Diana in the future, but also to learn more about Augustus and the rest of the Wonder Woman Universe.
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Thank you NetGalley and Aisha Saeed for the eARC of Diana and the Island of No Return.

This is a wonderful book, it was fun to read about a young Diana and seeing how she wanted to train and be a warrior like her mother and all the other women on the Island.  Her friendship with Sakina was important in the story and included background on their time together.  The introduction of Augustus from the island of Saz and the ensuing adventure was a blast!  It was an enjoyable read all around and I was thrilled to find out at the end that this book will be a series!  I will be reading the next one when it arrives.  I will post my review on Netgalley, Goodreads, Amazon and Google play.
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Very cute introduction to the future Wonder Woman, Diana of Themyscira, at age 12, Saeed does a good job of building a character who is likable and vulnerable to all the adolescent growing pains of a tweed girl. Good middle grade/early middle school read.
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This was a great middle grade book.following an adventure with Diana of Themyscira, the future Wonder Woman. It is a good tale about defending friends and building up courage to face opposition. Diana was likeable and relatable. The only thing I had trouble with was tying the story in with other versions of Wonder Woman, particularly her first time leaving the island of Themyscira.
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Terrific story for young readers of all genders. A great first entry in the series, and definitely recommended for middle grade fiction readers.
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**I was provided an electronic ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.**

Aisha Saeed brings the first of a new series of middle grade adventures surrounding Wonder Woman. Princess Diana, age 12, maintains that she is ready to begin Amazon warrior training, but her mother would like for her to wait until she is older. When all of Themiscyra is put to sleep and a boy shows up on the island, Diana and her best friend Sakina must accompany the boy to his island to set things right for both of their people. 

This was definitely a book I would have enjoyed when I was in the target age range of the novel. I am always excited for more novels making classic superheroes accessible to all ages in new ways. The writing was fast-paced and easy to follow, and there was a lot of room made for Diana to grow into her power in the sequels. However, even considering the intended audience, everything was a bit too easy for Diana and crew for my taste. 

I do not think that this particular story is my favorite Wonder Woman story, or the most memorable, but I am still happy to have read it and am excited for the addition into the DC Universe.
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Aisha Saeed takes a popular character with a well-known story and brings a sense of accessibility and relatability to the character. I loved this grounded approach, and I would love to share this book with young readers. It is ideal for classroom libraries, and the popular culture aspect would be an invitation to readers who have yet to tap into the "right book" for them.
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I will literally devour anything with Diana's name on it, because I adore Wonder Woman, and I've loved getting to see younger versions of her in [book:Wonder Woman: Warbringer|29749085] and [book:Diana: Princess of the Amazons|45143759], and this one was just as amazing and adorable. Aisha Saeed did a really great job of capturing a young teenage Diana and her love for her people and her dedication to becoming a warrior and helping people.

I really liked the festival taking place on Themyscira and how women from around the world were coming together to share both scholarly knowledge and battle skills. I adored Diana's friendship with Sakina. And Augustus was just a sweetheart who I hope we get to see in the next book.

Though a little slow at times, and maybe a bit repetitive, this was a good setup for the rest of the series and Diana, Sakina, and Augustus made grand, if unlikely, heroes. I loved how these three kids saved the day and both their peoples. Sakina's ability to speak to animals, Augustus' potionmaking, and Diana's leadership really brought these three together and allowed them to excel in their mission.

I definitely recommend this one for any fans of Wonder Woman, and anyone who loves a good middle grade story about heroism and friendship.
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I love Wonder Woman and tales of life on Paradise Island/Themyscira (depending on the version). This story was heavy on information dumping and telling instead of developing plot and working facts into the narrative.
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This is a must read for Wonder Woman fans of any age.  The age old struggles of daughters trying to find their space outside the shadow of their mothers and the mothers who want to protect but must learn to let go.  This is a very engaging and well paced story.  Highly recommend.
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Aisha Saeed is an author to watch - loved her Amal Unbound, and not surprised that she was trusted to write a children's story about Wonder Woman. 
This is another take on our favourite superhero Wonder Woman, set on when she is a young girl on Themyscira. We need more adventure books featuring brave, smart girls. 
Highly recommended.
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