Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Song of Achilles review

Description: Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, 'best of all the Greeks', is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

My thoughts: I’m still struggling to explain how I feel about this book. I really haven’t read a story this stunning since The Fault in Our Stars came out. It reminds me that there are two ways I read a book. One way or one type of book causes me to feel my head with questions. What’s going to happen? Why would he/she do that? How did they pull that off? In this case I’m trying to be a part of the world. And these types of questions come from anticipation or frustration. I’m either excited about what’s going to happen, or annoyed about what’s already happened (or not happened) and confused about what’s going to happen.

The Song of Achilles isn’t in this category. It’s one of those books that I just let immerse me. I have no questions (or at least no questions I really need answered), and nothing specifically stands out because none of the aspects of the book are lacking. The writing is exquisite yet harsh, the story vivid. And the characters are multifaceted (except for Agamemnon, he’s just a straight up jerk). And this book also made me look at a lot of characters (especially Achilles) differently. Except for the first time I saw the trailer for Troy (with Brad Pitt), I’d really never given him too much thought. Not to mention Patroclus.

In fact, this book has made me want to give other characters from Greek mythology another look, because everyone has a story to tell. We might not get to hear it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important or that the person wasn’t (once) important to someone at some point. The world is filled with people like Achilles and Patroclus, and only time will tell who will be remembered and uplifted, and who will be unappreciated and misunderstood.

Also, JUST GO READ IT!... Thanks.

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