Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: YA/NA, Paranormal, Fairy Tales Retold, AWESOME
Publication Date: September 10, 2013 (Tor Teen – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: Old Gods never die…
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.
Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.
Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.
Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.
☆: 5/5 stars – with all of the gore of the “Anna” duology, but with bonus awesomeness.
Review: Oh, you guys. I was so excited for this one, and it delivered. I think it’s safe to say that Blake has proven herself an awesome talent in YA/NA lit (it’s kinda hard to tell whether this one is mature YA or NA just due to the horror/gore imagery alone). If you liked “Anna”, but wanted more, I think you guys are going to love “Antigoddess” – I know I did. One of the more original looks at the Greek pantheon and the Trojan war (plus “Iliad/Odyssey”), “Antigoddess” has a little something for everyone – horror, love, rage, revenge, and of course, teenage shenanigans. Definitely one of my favorites of 2013 so far.
What I think I loved the most about this book: unlike so much YA/NA lit that does retell old myths, this one sticks by its guns in terms of violence and anger of all of the characters involved. I mean, come on – there was a lot of backstabbing (most of it literal), sword fighting, and wars in those myths, and Blake definitely kept it real when she brought back the famous romances in those myths, yet didn’t make them YA/NA cliches. There was no dumbing down of anything, nor blunting of feelings. No love triangles with the girl wringing her hands helplessly wondering which guy to choose. No forgiveness for when feelings (or other certain acts) were forced upon a girl by another. There are loyalties, and it’s hard to choose which side you want to be on – do you want to win, and go mad? Or do you want to possibly lose, but do it with honor and die anyway? “Antigoddess” asks us these important questions that have cropped up in all lit (but specifically YA lit as of late), and asks us to think hard, showing us what might happen to each side.
While the pacing of the book can be slow at times, Blake more than makes up for this with the action sequences, along with the memory sequences with all of our main cast involved – specifically, that of Aphrodite’s golden apple contest, a montage of Odysseus’ journeys, and Hector and Achilles’ battle with Andromache watching along the wall of Troy. These sequences pop up multiple times throughout this first book of the series, and it really helps build the world, comparing it with the modern world of now, with Blake slyly asking us between the lines about how much has really changed in the last thousand years. These experiences, both recent and ancient, help build all of our characters, and our characters help build the world through the relationship web school of worldbuilding, which was a great move on Blake’s part. It made her job easier, yet it didn’t let her take the easy way out. She had to remind us of some of the more obscure happenings in these classics, and that helped us build the world as well as the audience just in our participation. It felt like while writing this book, compared to the “Anna” duology, Blake grew leaps and bounds – and she was already really good in all of these technical departments to begin with. And I guess, that’s saying a lot.
Finally, the sensory language and imagery. If the image of feathers choking Athena to death, or Hermes losing so much weight that his body eats himself doesn’t show you how much Blake has grown in the sensory department (and damn if she wasn’t great in it with “Anna”)…well, just keep a watch out for some of the other predicted ends of the gods are laid out. I think I can honestly say I’m going to have a few nightmares about Poseidon, but I won’t spoil him otherwise. Good job, Blake. I tip my hat to you.
(Also? I love how the reincarnated characters were made to remember their past lives. Very merciless. Very clever. Bravo!)
Final verdict? If you’re looking for some particularly realistic, fresh turns on some old classics, you really don’t want to miss this release. “Antigoddess” hits shelves September 10, 2013 in North America so definitely check it out when you get the chance. It’s definitely in my top ten of 2013 so far for a reason.