Friday, April 23, 2010

The Ancient Greeks are Among Us!

Two books that I have read recently have both featured Greek gods and goddesses in the present day. I found this intriguing. Especially so, because the two book were so very different.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is the first book in a YA/children's series that focuses on Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon. Born half human, half god, Percy is not your average kid. School is torture. The special abilities that will someday manifest into battle skills only cause him trouble in the regular world. Labeled ADHD and LD, Percy hates school, and the teachers aren't too fond of him, either. One teacher in particular takes a murderous dislike to Percy. It's only when she glows claws and wings that Percy realizes just how much trouble he is in.

Born of parents from (literally) two different worlds, Percy and those like him draw the worst elements. Few of these children make it into their teenage years. This first book in a series starts the journey that Percy takes through adolescence. Will he survive? Will the gods take him out? Can he keep his mother safe? Will the Titans rise and take over Olympus?

This book was based so strongly in the original mythology that there is a sense of familiarity to the story. Those who studies the myths in school know the story of Medusa and Persephone. You know what Percy must do or why a god behaves in a particular way. Riordan honors the mythology, keeping true to the stories as his book unfolds.

I highly recommend this book. I have already told many of my students about it. I see the boys' eyes light up as they tell me about their favorite parts of the book. Boys. Reading. Voluntarily. For some of them this is a new experience. What could possibly be better than having students excited about a book they read, which will lead them to focused learning in the classroom? Not much, I think.

On the complete flip side, I FINALLY read Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon. This was my first Kenyon novel. I know, I know. What rock have I been living under. The back list was a bit intimidating. I finally sucked it up and snagged a copy. It was quite fun. Not the best paranormal romance I have ever read, but it was enjoyable. Certainly it was good enough to inspire me to request the next book from the library.

Julian is the son of Aphrodite and a Spartan soldier. Turned out of Olympus as a baby, he was given to the care of his father. Born of a time of war, male children were given over the the army at an early age. Blessed with his mother's beauty, Julian was often beaten and ridiculed. This shaped him into a lethal soldier. Gaining the favor of Athena, he was sent to battle to return victorious again and again. Jealousy of his conquests and his own poor judgement lead to his ultimate downfall. Cursed by his half-brother, Julian was locked in a book, only to be brought forth when summoned by women to act as their sex slave. Two millenia of this torture has left him empty, merely a husk of a man.

Grace is a sex therapist who ain't gettin' any. Her best friend thinks this is a problem. Grace is just fine with the situation, thank you very much. Her personal baggage comes in the form of a matching set of Louis Vuitton steamer trunks. She knows she has issues, but doesn't feel the need to lighten the load. Take a birthday, a bottle of wine, a cursed Greek book, and a well meaning best friend.... Grace, meet Julian. Julian, meet the first woman who has ever said no to you.

Sexual tension, ahoy! I enjoyed seeing the two characters get to know one another and begin to understand each other as individuals. Julian became human, not simply a love slave. Grace began to let go of the ghosts holding her back. Various gods popped in to either help or complicate matters. I felt that one or two issues were resolved perhaps too easily. Aphrodite waves her hand and all is well. Yet, I still enjoyed the book. A fun, easy romp.

So those Greek gods are still stirring up trouble today and making reading time interesting for us all.


Natalie said...

I've had the TLT for awhile (I bought from Costco) but never had a chance to read it. Glad you've liked it. With Fantasy Lover I haven't read this yet, but I like Paranormal Romance so I'd put this on my TBR. Thanks for a great review. It's fun reading your posts and hope you'll continue posting now ;-)

Tracy said...

I need to read The Lightning Thief before I see the movie with my kids!

Fantasy Lover was good. I have to say that it was nice to meet Julian because he's in subsequent books but FL really doesn't have anything to do with the Dark-Hunters. Just FYI. :)