Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genre: YA, Mythological Fiction, Fantasy
Published: January 5th, 2021 (Disney-Hyperion)
Synopsis: 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.
“It’s not always the truth that survives, but the stories we wish to believe. The legends lie. They smooth over imperfections to tell a good tale, or to instruct us how we should behave, or to assign glory to victors and shame those who falter. Perhaps there were some in Sparta who embodied those myths. Perhaps. But how we are remembered is less important than what we do now.”
As punishment for a past rebellion, every seven years, nine Greek Gods are forced to descend to earth and live for seven days as mortals. During these days, the descendants of ancient heroes hunt the mortal gods, seeking to kill one of them and gain their power, immortality and eternal glory in a lethal hunt known as the Agon. Lore of the House of Perseus fled that dangerous life following the brutal murders of her family by a rival house, but as a new Agon begins in New York City, she finds herself drawn back into that world when on the first day, two participants seek her out – Castor, a childhood friend she believed long dead, and the goddess Athena, one of the last original gods still alive. Severely injured, Athena asks for her help and in return, offers her an alliance and what she has long sought: revenge against Wrath, the new Ares, and the man responsible for her family’s deaths, and possibly a way to stop the cycle and end the Agon forever.
It feels like I’ve been waiting forever to read this book – and the wait was completely worth it! Many early reviews described this as Greek mythology crossed with Hunger Games and I found it to be a very apt description. One might expect, perhaps, something along the lines of Percy Jackson, but if you’ve read many of the original myths, this depiction of the Olympians is actually much closer. Alexandra Bracken has woven a truly fascinating world with such depth and a complex, layered plot that I have to applaud, especially since this is a standalone taking place over the span of a mere seven days. It has been a while since I’ve read any of the author’s books, but the writing style was familiar and draws the reader in right from the first page. It’s clear right away that Lore is a character who has a lot of history, and whose past is directly influencing current events, but the information was revealed so gradually and at the perfect places that at no point did I feel confused or lose the thread of the story. The streets of New York City were a perfect setting for this adventure. The plot and world-building were both masterfully executed and though a nearly 500 page book is hardly typical binge reading material, that’s exactly what I did.
“My name will be legend.”
Lore is one of the strongest protagonists I’ve come across in a while, and it was easy to root for such a spirited, driven character. I liked how Lore’s past was revealed in pieces alongside the current storyline and it served to portray extremely well her inner conflict between seeking vengeance for her family, and leaving behind the Agon altogether. Another aspect I really enjoyed about this book was how it took the time to talk about the women in Greek mythology who are often glossed over, relegated to being damsels in distress, or cast as the villains of the story – and how that still largely holds true in Lore’s world where women are considered second class. The plot twists kept me guessing until the very end. There are little hints dropped every so often that let the reader know there is more to be revealed, but not one bit of it was predictable in any way.
While the way things ended clearly makes this book a standalone, this world and concept is rich and detailed enough that it could have been easily made into a series. I think this would also make for a great movie or TV show with the non-stop action and intricate plot. I liked how things wrapped up, though it might have been interesting to see an epilogue set in Olympus revealing if this was Zeus’ endgame all along – the real purpose of the Agon, and of course, what the final fate of the gods is. All the praise this book is getting is certainly well deserved. I can’t remember the last time I’ve added a book to my best of shelf list this early in the year, but Lore definitely surpassed my already high expectations, and it is probably one of the easiest 5 star ratings I’ve ever given. I have nothing to criticize at all and I would highly recommend this for mythology and fantasy fans alike!
“Bind your fate to mine.”
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!