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 an Alexandra Bracken book, of course I had seen it around, most usually surrounding with lots of excitement. I don’t know why I wasn’t completely drawn to this book when I first found out about it, but my desire to read it was definitely something that grew. The cover was gorgeous, I knew it was about Greek mythology, and I found out it featured the friends-to-lovers trope and was very dark. Those last two things got my attention, and I was totally ready to see what this book was going to be about. Trigger warnings: sexual assault, mentions of sexual abuse, violence, gore, blood
Alright, buckle up for a weird review (yes, weirder than normal). So, I love this book. I do love it a lot. But, there are places where I feel like I’m kind of “eh” about it. It’s a weird mix of feelings.
Let’s start off with what I loved! The Agon, the week long game that takes place every seven years where the gods are made mortal. The goal of the gods is to stay alive. The goal of the hunters is to kill that gods to absorb their power. Just dang. I mean, this is freaking fantastic concept just on it’s own. Killing gods? Gods becoming mortal? Long term game? Heck yes, that’s fascinating on all levels, especially when it pulls from Greek mythology. I love how it played into the world that was created because of. A world of cruelty and a hunger for power, that traumatizes everybody who is apart of it. It’s brutal life, and the way that was reflected in each of the characters was remarkable. All of them carry a different trauma from the life they were born into. Just, the way that that pain was talked about and acknowledged was one of my favorite parts of this book.
Lore was another highlight for me. She brims with pain, with anger, with fear, and so much more. She feels so deeply, and she is driven by her emotions. Sometimes she finds herself craving the violence of the world she grew up in, but she also wants more for herself. All of this creates a girl who will claw her way to and through anything. I love her so, so much.
Speaking of characters, I am also a huge fan of Iro, Miles, and Van! They’re side characters, but boy are they awesome. Even if they are side characters, all of them are so emotionally well rounded. They’re given their own feelings and viewpoints of the world, even if they differ from Lore’s. This made them feel so full and so complete, and made me love them a whole lot.
I’m also a huge fan of how this book was written. It relies on subtleness rather than big, obvious moves. Even if I wasn’t completely overwhelmed by certain actions that were taken, I could look at them as see just how smart they were and how well certain characters played certain situations. Let’s just say Bracken knows how to write manipulation.
Also, Greek mythology. I mean, I LOVE Percy Jackson and I’m obsessed with the game Hades, so I went into this book ready for some more Greek mythology. And this book delivered. It puts it’s own twists on the legends and the gods, and I completely loved what this story did with them. And I might hate New York, but I do have to admit that it made a fantastic backdrop for the Agon and what this book is doing.
I really, really hate saying that I didn’t love Castor, but I didn’t love Castor. I know! I was expecting to like him a lot more than I did. I feel like he was just a couple character traits in a trench coat instead of a full, fleshed out character.
This next thing is might just be a me thing, or a me thing for the writing, but I feel like it’s worth mentioning. At times I felt like there was a lot of filler and the book was sort of just passing by or something like that. I know, it’s weird haha. But there were times when I wasn’t sure about my feelings towards the book.
I do want to mention that this book has a kind of “magical cure” for a character with a chronic illness. A character is dying from cancer, ascends to godhood, and is cured. I cannot comment on it further than that, but I did want mention it.
Bloody and brutal, this was a book that I fell in love with. There were a few things here and there that were a bit iffy for me, but there were also things that I adored. Overall, I did really love it.