This review will contain major spoilers for the entirety of the book.
Also, there are some heavy trigger warnings, so before reading this review (or even the book), please check below to be safe!
This review is also extremely ranty – and I curse.
☾ about the book
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Format: novel, ebook (also available as hardback and paperback)
Trigger Warning: violence, blood, gore, bodyhorror, death, loss of loved ones, murder (of children), terminal illness (child cancer), mention of arranged marriage and sexual abuse (of minors), misogyny
CR thread on twitter here:
☾ the plot
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.
☾ the characters
Melora Perseous, aka Lore, has been living under the radar in NYC while taking care of an old man named Gil by the time the Agon begins.
Then, Athena, one of the last original gods of Olympus, turns up wounded on the doorstetp of Lore’s home and begs for Lore’s help.
Kill Wrath, the false Ares and slayer of gods, and end the Agon forever – all while being bound to Athena, which means that if Lore dies, so does the goddess.
Castor Achilleos is Lore’s childhood friend, and he is the newly ascended Apollo.
A survivor of terminal childhood cancer, he has returned to NYC for the Agon – and in search of Lore.
Because Lore is in danger.
During the Agon, he has a limited array of Apollos powers – powers he has no control over.
Miles is Lore’s friend and roommate, who has been living with Lore because Gil offered him a room at his house.
When Athena turns up at their door, Lore fills Miles in on the Agon, and her family history, pulling Miles into its midst.
Gil is the original Hermes. He searched for Lore, and found her in Europe, managing to take her back to NYC under the guise of an old Professor who had been mugged on the streets and badly injured.
While Lore takes care of him, he protects her with his powers, but then, shortly before the Agon starts, Gil (and Hermes) passes away, leaving Lore behind with secrets
Wrath is the head of the Kadmides, and he wields the powers of Ares.
Years before the Agon, he had come into possession of the Perseides’ shield, which Lore stole back, and he has been looking to win the Agon since his ascension.
Athena, among Artemis and Zeus, is one of the last original gods of Olympus, and when Artemis injures her, Athena turns to Lore for help.
All she wants is to kill Wrath so she can earn the favor of her father Zeus.
☾ the world building
Every seven years during the Agon, gods walk the earth as mortals, only to be hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, who train for the hunt all their lives.
If you kill a god (or goddess), you claim their power and ascend, only to have to participate in the Agon the next time it takes place.
During the book, the Agon takes place in NYC, and a few new gods have joined the ranks.
However, the false Ares, who goes by the name of Wrath is the one hunting down the other gods, so he can be the only one to remain, much to the dismay of the other eight, who can either fight or die willingly.
The hunters don’t only use weapons for the Agon. Being descendants of ancient bloodlines in modern day New York, they have access to the latest and best technology.
☾ the things i liked about this book
The concept. I had seen it pitched as The Hunger games meets Greek Mythology, and that was what drew me towards reading the book.
So yeah, I thought the concept had a lot of potential.
I also liked Lore – she is the strongest female heroine I’ve read about since Jude Duarte, so if you like that type of girl, this book is for you.
I also liked the romance aspect – childhood friends to lovers of the finest sort.
☾ the things i didn’t like about this book
As much as I liked the concept, the execution was super messy.
It did give me Hunger Games vibes, but I also got Percy Jackson and the Olympians vibes – and those vibes didn’t mix well.
The world-building was very confusing, and I found myself constantly wanting more.
You definitely have to fight through the first half before the author offers any sort of plot twist to get you excited, and even the plot twists were quite predictable if you thought about them hard enough – Gil was Hermes, Athena and Artemis were playing games with Lore and the others and had different ulterior motives and also it wasn’t the Kadmides that got Lore’s parents killed.
Again, if you think about it hard enough, it makes a lot of sense. However, the way the characters arrived at those conclusions took up a lot of space, and i dare say the book could have been cut in half had they just not rushed into things – but that’s what YA protagonists do, I guess.
The thing that drove me mad the most, was the way things developed – the book was a slow read (it took me 6 weeks to get it done) but at the same time, it was an unbearable mouthful, and I absolutely hated every second of reading it.
Aside from that, I feel like I could list all the CWs and TWs I want, and the person reading this review still wouldn’t be prepared to read it. ‘
The way disability is handled in the book-
Well, to start the book off, we meet a character who is a member of the Achillides, and he is laying on a field with his Achilles tendons severed – effectively making him disabled.
I don’t know why I, having a disability myself and suffering from shortened Achilles tendons, have to go through stuff like this every time I pick up a Greek mythology retelling without being warned. Heavily triggering, made me want to puke.
Castor is magically healed from his terminal childhood cancer when Hermes makes Castor stab him, ad though his illness is often mentioned throughout the book, he got the magical cure, and is no also a FUCKING GOD??? I’m so angry.
Lastly, Evander cut his own hand off so he wouldn’t have to hunt in the Agon and now he gets to wear a prosthetic and be tech savvy, but also he has absolutely no struggles?!
Uh, toxic representation of disabilities much?!
So yeah, disabled folks beware.
Oh yeah, before I forget: The ending made absolutely no sense and Castor and Lore are OP as fuck, but love conquers all, I guess.
☾ would i recommend this book
No. Absolutely not.
I want my six weeks of life back, actually.
There you go.