Thursday, August 13, 2009

Greek Mythology that isn't Percy Jackson

Today, for your pleasure, I bring you two books for teens that deal with Greek Mythology.

Radiant Darkness Emily Whitman

You know how the story goes. One day Hades shows up in Demeter’s garden and steals away Persephone. Demeter searches the earth for her, allowing the fields to dry and the people to die. Except, maybe that’s not quite how it happened. Maybe Demeter was so into her plants and the mortal adoration that she didn’t let Persephone ever leave the garden. Maybe she was keeping Persephone young and sheltered, despite her blossoming womanhood. Maybe Hades courted her. Maybe Persephone let willingly, excitedly, and was, frankly, surprised that her mother even noticed.

This is the version of the tale that Whitman imagines. One with a goddess not entirely used to being, well, a goddess. A woman learning to use her powers for herself, learning to see what powers she has, learning the role the gods play in the lives of mortals.

Whitman has taken a story that usually is less than a page and created complex characters with varied motivations for actions they can’t foresee the consequences of. Whitman’s Persephone captures much of the angst of growing up—parents who aren’t able to let you go, coming to understand the wider world view, discovering lands and places and cultures and lives outside what you have known, feeling like you’re ready to take on the world and still longing for home. A must for any fan of Greek mythology. Or pomegranates. (Mmm… pomegranates. Is it fall yet?) But also enjoyable for anyone who likes a good coming-of-age romance..

Oh. My. Gods. Tera Lynn Childs

Phoebe is NOT HAPPY. Her mom comes back from vacation ENGAGED and is moving Phoebe from LA to a small island in Greece. As if this weren't bad enough, her new stepsister is straight from Cinderella and her new school is seriously hard-- hard enough she's worried about keeping the B average she needs for her scholarship to USC. Oh, and here's the kicker-- all of the other kids at school are descended from the Greek Gods. Because being the new kid isn't bad enough, she has to be the only NORMAL kid?

This was fun and enjoyable, although totally predictable. It's an great frothy, lie-around-on-a-summer day read. I will definitely be looking for the sequel, Goddess Boot Camp.

One complaint though. At one point Phoebe says "I'm not a feminist or anything, but I like my rights and I'd like to keep them." Sorry Phoebe, but YES YOU ARE.


Melissa said...

I really liked Oh. My. Gods. and the sequel; thought they were an interesting take on Greek Mythology. And I'd like to read Radiant Darkness (eventually).

I'll refrain from being a Percy Jackson fanatic and saying that neither one is as good as what Riordan wrote, though...

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Donna St. Cyr's Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate is a new Greek mythology title you might want to look into.