While the book has enough references to the MCU to keep you turning the pages, I found Thanos’ backstory non-compelling.
One of the biggest reasons why Avengers: Infinity War worked on so many levels was because Thanos is such an engaging and fleshed-out villain. Barry Lyga’s novel explores the origin story of Thanos, the Mad Titan, who ultimately decimates half of all life in the universe with the snap of his fingers.
According to the book, Thanos is a ‘Deviant’ child born to A’Lars (name-dropped by the Red Skull in Avengers: Infinity War) and Sui-San. Because of his purple skin (the color of death), Thanos grows up isolated from the rest of Titan and is homeschooled by his father. A chance remark from the first girl he kisses leads him to an epiphany that Titan was going to run out of resources and that 50% of the population needs to be euthanized. When he relays his message on a hologram, even offering his own life, it causes mass panic and he is exiled from the planet.
His space-faring adventures take him to Asgard, where he makes a futile attempt to steal the Aether (the Reality Stone from Thor: The Dark World) from Odin’s vault, before he crashes on the Chitauri home planet where he makes a pact with them (The Avengers). The story moves on to show how Thanos recruits Gamora and Nebula, and the Chitauri onslaught on Gamora’s homeland matches perfectly with the flashback from Infinity War. So, it was rather perplexing as to why the book was denied ‘canon’ status.
While the book has enough references to the MCU to keep you turning the pages, I found Thanos’ backstory largely non-compelling. There are too many unnecessary detours, involving characters and places you don’t have a vested interest in. The book becomes truly exciting only in the final chapters, when Thanos runs into an alien called the Loremaster, who shares interesting titbits about the Infinity Stones and other cosmic powers in the MCU.