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Monday, August 19, 2013

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Antigoddess
by Kendare Blake
Read: August 9 - 12, 2013
Published:
Source: ATWT
Category: Greek Mythology, YA
Series: The Godesss War Book 1

The Goddess War begins in Antigoddess, the first installment of the new series by acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake.

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. (From Goodreads
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Set-up:
The immortal gods are dying. Slowly. In individual ways meant to cause each of them the most psychological and physical harm. Athena, the mighty goddess of war and justice is painfully (and annoyingly) choking on the feathers of her beloved owls, which are literally growing inside her. Eventually, feathers will fill Athena’s lungs and cover body, and that will be that. Unless she can figure out why it’s happening and how to stop it. Determined to find answers, Athena travels with her brother Hermes to ask for help from her Aunt Demeter. 

Battle lines are drawn and the Goddess War begins. 

On the other side of the country, Cassandra is a sophomore in high school. She's in love with her boyfriend Aidan, hanging out with her best friend Andie, and making cash on the side at lunch-time with her ability to call a coin toss right every time. Although Cassandra’s psychic abilities have always been a neat party trick, recently she’s started experience strange visions that are far more serious and sinister. What is her connection to the mighty goddess?

Thoughts:
I’ve been dying to get my hands on Antigoddess ever since it eluded me at BEA. I’m a big fan of Greek mythology, and I was excited to find out how Kendare Blake, known for the gruesome and also amusing Anna Dressed in Blood, would tackle the subject. For the most part, it was a great success. 

Unfortunately, however, the book started off slowly for two reasons. The first is that I think I’ve recently gotten a little oversaturated with Greek myths in YA. I had a bad case of Other Book Comparison Syndrome when I started Antigoddess. As much as I tried to avoid this slippery slope, I kept getting flashes of both Percy Jackson and another series. It took me some time and mental effort to stop comparing them. I kept thinking, wait that's not what that character is like! But then I'd remember this is a different story. That’s not really this book’s fault, but it definitely confused me at first and affected my reading.

Secondly, the split story-lines, told in alternating chapters, affected the pacing a lot. It wasn’t until about 50% that we get a convergence, although we know it’s coming far earlier. At that point the book really picks up the pace, and I was flying through the story by the time I reached the end. Although I was interested in both story-lines, it took me some time to engage in this book, because the narrative switches back and forth between Athena and Cassandra. 

However, once I disentangled myself from those two issues, I really enjoyed Antigoddess. Blake infuses a darkness into her tale as she challenges the gods' most fundamental element - immortality. By confronting their inhumanity she creates a story with wonderfully grotesque elements. I love the concept of the gods' decaying immortality as something new and scary for them to face. It was certainly different from anything I'd read before. I also really like that this is their tale. Not just a retelling of an old myth, or a human's reaction to their scheming. The gods are changing, which is quite a rude awakening for them. All that is to say that despite my earlier comparison problems, Blake's story is a fresh and exciting addition to Greek based YA books.  

Death is a frightening concept for creatures that have always been indestructible. Despite their constant competition with each other, gods have always been far above human fragility. Now that they’re dying, how different are they from the humans who once worshipped them? I enjoyed the ways that Athena, especially, began to face her own perspective on mortality and humanity. 

I know I haven't really talked about any of the other characters besides Athena and Cassandra, and that was intentional. This book has a wonderful cast of characters, but many of them pop up in surprising (or horrifying) ways, and I think it's more fun to discover them for yourselves. But I already have several favorite secondaries, and I think this story is going to be even more awesome as it continues to introduce more of them. 

I really loved both romances in this story. They are different from each other but also pretty unique and very intriguing. One is an established relationship, which we don’t often get to experience. However, I was able to connect right into Cassandra and Aidan’s romance. The other explores a concept that I’ve not seen before, although it feels like a natural progression. I like that both love stories felt important to the growth of the story and the characters (aka they weren't just in here to throw in a romance). I’m quite interested to see how both progress in the future. (Confession: there's something BIG I want to talk about in this section, but it's a huge spoiler. You'll know what I mean when you read the book.)

Antigoddess is the first book in the Goddess War series. It has a fairly settled ending that greatly unsettled me. It's also pretty exciting. Although we have some clues about where the series is headed, at this point it's difficult to predict what is coming next. That makes it an excellent book for a hearty discussion, which is my favorite. If you've read this book, what do you think is going to happen? (Please note SPOILERS here, or visit my Goodreads review and comment under a spoiler tag.)

Conclusion:
Despite some initial complications, I found Antigoddess to be a fresh and fascinating take on Greek mythology, and I'm definitely eager for book 2 Aristeia (look up that word and you'll have some clues about what is to come).

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low



22 comments:

  1. Death is a frightening concept for creatures that have always been indestructible. Despite their constant competition with each other, gods have always been far above human fragility. Now that they’re dying, how different are they from the humans who once worshipped them? --love this thought. I still haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood, but everyone loves it so hopefully soon. Probably this week;) Hehe. I think Greek mythology is one of the most used topics in YA lit and it amazes me that you found Blake's spin on it original and unique and it definitely makes me intrigued. I love love love the fact that romance wasn't just a something alongside the plot, but felt true and didn't bother the main plot. I'm really excited about this now:)

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    1. You're right, as much as I love Greek myths, it is pretty overpopulated in YA right now. That did give me some trouble at first, but I think that Blake brought something new and interesting to this genre. I hope you think so too! I hope you like ANNA when you read it. Both this and that book have a little horror in them, though ANTIGODDESS leans towards grotesque instead of spine curling horror. And the romances! I really liked both of them, and we'll for sure have to discuss when you read this! Thanks for being the first commenter as usual :). I love my European followers.

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  2. I haven't read anything by this author before, but I'm thinking this will be my first. It's been a long time since I visited Greek mythology and the romance in this sounds great, so I can't wait to chek this out. Great review, Lauren!

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    1. As always, I look forward to your perspective on this one. Definitely a book for a discussion too. I'm also interested in the take of someone who doesn't read a lot of Greek based YA books.

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  3. Great review. Hearing a lot of mixed feedback but the story does sound interesting nonetheless. thanks for the honesty.

    new follower via bloglovin & twitter

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    1. Thanks for the follow! Yes, I've seen mixed things as well, but except for the slow beginning, this was a great success for me. I think it brought some new and exciting things to the over populated category of Greek myth based YA.

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  4. This sounds exciting: "It has a fairly settled ending that greatly unsettled me." I have no idea what that could mean but doggone it I want to read this book SO MUCH. My library doesn't have it out for holds yet but I'm going to keep checking. AAAHHHH I can't stand the wait.

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  5. OPh, fabulous review, L! You know how giddy I am over this book and all the mythology and epic poetry stuff:) It is VERY hard to write a review and not venture into spoiler-y territory but you did a great job! (I know EXACTLY what you want to talk about in that paragraph dealing with romance above!)

    Love your thoughts on immortality and humanity--you know those ethical and moral questions are favorites of mine too-love to read anything that features those themes!

    I guess to say I am INCREDIBLY excited to read the sequel would be redundant since we have discussed it already, but I SO am. And yes, I did look up Aristeia, which of course has me speculating even more:)

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  6. This was one of my must-haves to grab at BEA, and thanks to my epic mom/mother in law team of Awesome, I was able to snag a copy and I can't wait to read it! I'm glad to know about the rocky start upfront though, now I don't think it will bother me as much as I'll simply take it in stride and wait for things to really get going when the two storylines come together. Super excited for two well done romances too, WOO HOO!

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    1. Did you bring a group of people to BEA to help you capture ALL THE BOOKS? That is genius! I didn't know you could do that. Yes, I was told about the slow beginning before I started reading so I think it helped me manage it. I was interested in both stories separately, and I'm not sure they could have been told differently, but for some reason it was tough to switch between them at first. Can't wait to see what you think when you get to this!

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  7. I was sorry to miss this one at BEA, too! But I'm glad you finally got your hands on it. I'll have to borrow it from the library, because it really sounds like my kind of book. But it does drive me crazy waiting for the different points of view to converge. I just read a book and there were three POV characters, but their stories didn't intersect until the very, very end of the book, where it was so superficial that I wondered why they all had to be in the same book in the first place.

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    1. I hope you LOVE this one, Steph! The two perspectives DO make sense together, especially the further in that you go. So it's exciting but also hard to wait for it all to come together. But to me it was worth it. I want to ask what book you read, but possibly it is a spoiler! Hopefully, your library gets ANTIGODDESS! I think it's a pretty exciting and unique take on Greek mythology.

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  8. I've only made it halfway through before I put it to the side. Haven't given up on it yet but the dual perspectives from the goddess to the kids really just didn't shuffle together well for me. I guess I need to pick it back up, don't I? Gotta see what happens in the second half now!

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    1. OH I hope you stick to it! I had warning about the slow beginning and I think that helped me get through it. The second half is much faster. Has Hermes arrived in New York yet? But I agree that the two perspectives were tough to switch between. I think that's the biggest downfall with this book. You want people to be able to engage with it enough to keep going. However, i'm not sure how it could have been written differently? I'll be looking for your thoughts when you get to them!

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  9. I really do love Greek mythology too. I'm wondering if I'll be comparing to past reads and characters too. It seems like a given in some genres, like angels too. Thank you for a heads up on the slow beginning. Those are always hard for me being the slow reader I am but I'll have to push through it when I finally get the chance to read it. Great review!

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    1. I hope you like this one when you get to it! Really great point about having to be careful about comparisons when you read lots of series with popular themes. I'd add vampires to that list. I always have to clear my mind out before starting a new one, because they always feature different mythology. But I really do hope that you connect to ANTIGODDESS! I think it is a great addition to the genre.

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  10. I'll be reading this one soon, so I can't wait to discover the something BIG so we can discuss. :) I'm afraid I'll have the same issue and compare this one to a lot of the other mythology-themed stories I've read, but I haven't read one in a few months, so maybe that'll save me some. I love Kendare's writing, so I'm really hopeful that this story will be on par with her Anna books for me.

    P.S. I've been stalking the USPS tracking updates for Haze. It's supposed to be here today. SQUEEEEEEEEE!!!! :D Thankyouthankyouthankyou for allowing me to borrow your copy!

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    1. I'm very interested if you have the same comparison issues that I had, since I think we've read a few of the same books. However, as I've said, I DO think that this one has something new to offer, once you get into the plot and characters. Will be looking for your review when you read it.

      Also, YAY for Haze :). I am salivating for your response. Please keep me informed as you read. I want to read it again!

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  11. Oh, I hate when I start having Other Book Comparison Syndrome (great name;) too! I know it's not the book's fault...but I can't help it. I'm not very patient when it comes to slowness in books and I can definitely see how alternating chapters can really slow down everything! But now I really want to read it despite that because you liked it so much. And I want to read about the characters who pop up in surprising and maybe horrifying ways...and the BIG thing in the romance section. Love the review, Lauren :) I WANT TO DISCUSS.

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    1. I think knowing how this book works ahead of time really helped me work through the beginning. I found it interesting all along, but not unputdownable until the second half. That THING, yes. We shall discuss when you get to this book! It's pretty fun to see when mythological creatures pop up in this book. Hope you can read it soon!

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  12. Thanks so much for your review, Lauren. I haven't read the other two series you mention, so I think I'll be able to adjust more quickly than you were. The dual POV worries me a bit, since that's not always my favorite thing--but I'm a big fan of Kendare Blake's, so I definitely need to give this a try! I'm glad you ended up enjoying it so much.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  13. Confession: Greek mythology is my thing. And yet, I haven't really read any Greek-mythology inspired YA. At least, not recently. I generally prefer to turn to adult fiction to get my fix of this. But I think I'll make an exception for Antigoddess. It sounds creepy and horrifying and oh-so-fascinating. As you mentioned here, it's definitely interesting for Blake to focus on immortality, the one thing that the gods take advantage of. I'm not sure if I'll enjoy a more modern-day mythology story (another thing I've never really done), but I'm willing to give it a shot. Anna Dressed in Blood was a quick and entertaining read, if nothing else, so I'm sure Antigoddess will at least be that for me. I'm glad you were able to enjoy Antigoddess overall yourself, Lauren!

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