Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Goddess Girls

Goddess Girls Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

A lot of my comments on this series hold for each book, so I thought I'd review them together instead of separately so you don't have to read the same thoughts over and over again.

The basic premise is that many of the Greek gods and goddesses attend Mount Olympus Academy, where they learn the things they need to know to become gods and goddesses. There are a few regular humans as well (Pandora) and non-immortal characters (Medusa, centaurs). Everyone's a student except Zeus, because he's the loud, good-natured, and slightly bumbling principal. If you know your Greek mythology, there's a lot of it represented here, but it's rather watered down to make the books more age appropriate* (I'll get into specifics in a bit).

Overall it's a light and fun series. While I'm not sure on the need to refer to everyone as godboys or goddessgirls (it gets a little annoying) there's something about this series that I really enjoy. Also, as a fast adult reader, they're the perfect length to read (and finish!) in the bath.

Athena the Brain (Goddess Girls)Athena the Brain

In the first book, Athena gets a letter from Zeus claiming he's her father and that she needs to transfer to Mount Olympus Academy immediately. Through her newcomer eyes, we get a good sense of the social structures and how the Academy functions. She immediately makes an enemy, but Medusa hates everyone so... eh. She also quickly becomes best friends with Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis.

Athena's mother is a fly, who still lives in Zeus's brain. They are still rather in love and talk to Athena a lot, giving her the family she always wished for. (See what I mean about watered down?)

This book also features the Trojan War, which is a class project in Hero-ology.

Persephone the Phony (Goddess Girls)Persephone the Phony

As we learned in the first book, Persephone's mother, Demeter, is very over-protective-- Persephone's the only Academy student who has to live at home! Here we also learn how much Persephone hides of herself-- Demeter's always told her to "go along to get along" so she always agrees with her friends' thoughts and plans, even when deep down, she disagrees.

Then she meets Hades. He's considered a bad boy because he's from the Underworld. No one will really talk to him. Her mother and friends warn her to stay away but she's finally met someone she can just be herself with.

Once again, a little watered down. There's no kidnapping (there is some running away) and no marriage-- Persephone and Hades just want to be friends and while they bond over a pomegranate seed spitting contest, it was all above ground so Persephone's not trapped in the underworld at all. There's also a happy ending and of course Hades isn't a bad boy at all, he's just shy and from the wrong part of town.

What I really liked about this one is that it's a characterization of Persephone I haven't seen before. She's so afraid to voice her own opinion and lets herself be run over by her friends and mother. It was a really interesting take on her character.

Aphrodite the Beauty (Goddess Girls)Aphrodite the Beauty

Aphrodite has decided that what Athena needs is a makeover. She goes along with the plan and suddenly all the boys are ignoring Aphrodite in favor of Athena! Aphrodite thought she'd enjoy a break from the attention and never thought she'd begrudge Athena anything but... she's jealous. Especially because Ares seems to have forgotten Aphrodite exists. And... even though he's a big jerk, readers of the previous books will realize that Aphrodite has a HUGE crush on him.

Only one boy is still taken with Aphrodite over the new and improved Athena-- the extremely talented but unpopular Hephaestus. So Hephaestus is obviously the good choice and Ares totally sucks, and Aphrodite KNOWS this and knows she shouldn't be so shallow, but... in the end, she doesn't choose anyone, because there's not a lot of romance in these books. There are minor crushes and occasionally characters will dance together at school dances!!! But... watered down for age accessibility.

In a lot of books based on Greek myth, Aphrodite is often portrayed as a shallow mean girl. The immortal equivalent of the evil head cheerleader. OR a complete and total ditz with hearts doodled all over. I do like books that give her a little more depth and explore her facets a little more. In this series, Aphrodite does doodle a lot of hearts and is shallow, but it's something she recognizes and struggles with. She also tries really hard to be a good friend.

All in all, I'm really looking forward to Artemis the Brave, which comes out today and will hopefully hit my library very very soon (it's on order. I already have my hold placed.)

*Reading level puts it at a strong 3rd grade level, but there aren't content worries. I'd put the upper age limit at 5th/6th grade. Reading level might be a little low, but I think it would still appeal, content-wise.

All Books Provided by... my local library

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