Rating: 4.5 STARS
How I got this book: Bought
Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family's sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt's promises of eternal glory. For years she's pushed away any thought of revenge against the man--now a god--responsible for their deaths.
Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.
The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore's decision to bind her fate to Athena's and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost--and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.
TW: Attempted rape of a child, child marriage, child abuse, murder (incl. children)
We selected this book for the April 2021 Turn The Page book club.
Can I just say that this book really exceeded my expectations?! I haven't read any other books by Alexandra Bracken, and this book seems to have some mixed ratings, but the Hunger Games/Divergent comparisons initially put me off, as dystopian fiction isn't really my thing. Thankfully, while this book reminded me of both, for me at least, it outshone them.
“Scars are tallies of the battles you’ve survived.”
The book begins with a poem from Zeus before we're launched immediately into bloodshed as a new God murders an old God. It's a short but bloody and brutal introduction, setting the tone for the rest of the book.
I absolutely love Greek mythology and had sort of forgotten how much until I started reading this book. And regardless of what happens, Artemis is still my queen!
The first chapter introduces us to Lore, fighting in a boxing ring. She basically kicks ass and is immediately compelling in her ferocity and through her struggle with grief.
“It wasn't that anger was inherently good or bad. It could lend power and drive and focus, but the longer it lived inside you unchecked, the more poisonous it became.”
Lore's character makes this story work. Without her, it wouldn't have gripped me how it did, forcing me to keep reading even though the plot, for at least the first quarter/third of the book, is quite slow and drawn out.
Miles, Lore's best friend and housemate really helped as well. He's funny, sweet and caring, with a sarcastic, edgy side that comes out later, and I love him! He deserves all good things, and I'd have loved some chapters from his POV.
As Lore finds herself face to face with a wounded Athena on her doorstep, she's suddenly plunged back into the world she's spent seven years hiding from, and things get interesting. The entire story flits back and forth across New York as Lore does what she feels is necessary to avenge her family and save Athena.
I really enjoyed the contrast of the new gods and the old gods, and while some of the history, politics, bloodlines etc was a bit confusing, I think the mythology and the backstory it provided added to the story enough to make it less dystopian in style and allowed the fantasy to take a better hold of the story.
What really kept this plot moving was the sheer amount of twists and treachery. Honestly, it got to the point where I expected every single character to betray Lore with their ulterior motives, or to end up murdered themselves. At one point, things got so bad (in a good way) that I was begging Lore to just murder everyone, and had to take a quick emotional support break via a tub of Ben & Jerry's.
“Monsters lived in the shadows. To hunt them, you couldn’t be afraid to follow. And the only way to destroy them was to have the sharper teeth and the darker heart.”
The author did a fantastic job of revealing just a snippet of information, forcing me to keep reading, while never giving too much away. Until when she finally did, it had the most impact. Making it so that I couldn't stop reading.
I was worried about the LGBT+ characters in this book who I was really hoping wouldn't go down the usual, 'let's kill them to hurt the chief character' route. While I don't want to give too much away, I really enjoyed the direction the author took, in a way that was much more compelling than the storyline between Lore and Cas, her childhood best friend. I really didn't like these two characters together at first as Cas seemed to tame some of Lore's wildness and the relationship felt a little forced after 7 years apart.
I did, however, love the ending, which wasn't a cliffhanger (thank the Gods!!) and left me reeling from everything that had happened.
There are some difficult themes dealt with in this book, as outlined in the trigger warnings above, but what the author does well is she uses them to make Lore an advocate for women's rights and a spearhead for change among the bloodlines (districts, factions.....)
“Monsters had fangs, but that was why lionesses were given claws.”
Overall, I really enjoyed the characters, the unexpected twists and deceptions and the brutality of this story which, while painful, felt necessary to the story and in keeping with the darkness of Greek mythology. I think fans of Percy Jackson, The Mortal Instruments, and The Hunger Games would particularly enjoy this diverse feminist fantasy.
“A person alone could be controlled, but a person loved by others would always be under their protection.”
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
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5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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