I love Greek and Roman mythology. It is, as the kids say, extremely my shit. So when I saw that a “moveable Hunger Games for the gods” book was headed into the world, I got on the holds train at my library for the ebook and waited patiently from my starting place of 45th in line for one (ONE!!) copy.
First, I want to say that this book goes in heavy on fighting against the patriarchy. The descendant families of the Greek heroes that fight each year in the Agon are led by men, and men only, although women can fight as hunters of the gods each cycle. You get the sense that this is an underlying theme in Lore’s motivation until right in the middle when you are suddenly bombarded with a huge monologue complete with descriptions of rape about how women have never been treated fairly or as equals in the cycles. You get slapped in the face with it, and if you are an intelligent reader you’ll be knocked out of the action and wonder why the author felt like they had to be so heavy handed with the moral of the story. It’s 2021 and people still don’t get it, so I guess I understand, but at the same time the people who wouldn’t get it probably would be reading this kind of book so why reach so far to hit us over the head?
Second, I loved the idea of the Agon and Zeus punishing his children for being disobedient. It was a fantastic idea (as much as I hate to compare everything to the Hunger Games) that brought the HG into a contest to steal a god’s power and ascend. That power got passed through the ages as the gods were killed, and their killers killed, and so on, until in this cycle we discover that there is a way to end it all for good. This race to end Zeus’ punishment gives us a glorious ticking clock that keeps the action moving.
If you aren’t already familiar with the myths, this book might be a little bit of work. Thankfully Bracken keeps the main characters from families of the obvious heroes that most people would have heard of (Odysseus, Achilles, Perseus) and you can kind of take the other families as they come (a character and family guide is provided at the beginning of the book for your reference).
My only real criticism is that it gets kind of soggy in the middle. The beginning is fast, the end is fast, but the middle has a LOT of talking about why things are the way they are and how people feel and why they feel that way and “oh it’s all my fault boo hoo” kind of stuff that bores me. Luckily that didn’t last too long but there was a point at which I considered putting the book down when things picked back up again. The story as a whole was so different from what I’ve been reading lately, and when considered as the sum of its parts, it’s worth picking up.
While this was an enjoyable read overall, it’s not a book I would return to. I would suggest getting this one on a Kindle sale or trying to get a copy from your local library instead of buying. Enjoy it, then return it. But definitely check it out.
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