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The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller – Review

Achilles is a legendary hero. Patroculus is a prince who is a disgrace to his family. After one accident leave Patroculus an outcast he is forced to find his way in a new world. Achilles is looking to make his name known and for someone to understand him. Together they begin an epic love story that can only end in tragedy.

“He said what he meant; he was puzzled if you did not. Some people might mistaken this for simplicity. But is it not a sort of genius to cut always to the heart?”

Pg. 44

I read Circe by Madeline Miller a few years ago and adored it. I loved the way she brought a little known myth to life. I loved the way I was captured by this story. I knew that I had to eventually read Song of Achilles as well.

I think the first thing that impressed me is that I was so enthralled by the story even though I knew how it ended. While I am not as versed in the Troy story and Achilles as I am in other mythology stories, I did know the way this story went. I am not someone who enjoys knowing the ending of a book while I am reading. I like the surprise and the suspense. I like not knowing if someone is going to make it or not.

The reason I liked this book so much was the way Miller was able to give so much life to both Achilles and Patroculus. Both of them were deep and well rounded characters. I felt connected to both of them right away. Patroculus was lost and looking for purpose. Achilles was looking to matter and for someone to care enough about him to help him. I loved the way they played off one another.

I also liked that they were distinctly different characters. I was afraid at first that Patrolculus was going to be forced to be a solider even though that was not his skill set. I was afraid I was going to read about a reluctant solider and constant battles where he was trying to hide and survive. Instead we see them find their distinct paths and find a way to be themselves while also being with each other.

The love story was done really well. I thought the way they connected and fell in love with each other was great. I liked that it wasn’t instant. It was an understanding and a friendship that became more. I also liked that there was no long discussion trying to determine what they were to one another, if they should be together or not. They realized they loved each other and life went on. I loved that.

I also found it interesting that Miller didn’t use the normal aspects of Achille’s story. There was no River Styx and invincibility. He was strong and a half-god but the rest made him more human. I liked playing with the myth. My favorite mythology stories play with the myths and make them new and fresh and I though that was done really well in this book.

“This is what all mortals ask first, in disbelief, shock, fear. Is there no exception for me?”

pg. 166

I think the middle got a little dragged down. Once they get to Troy there were 10 years to play with and not much happens. You know they have to build up to the end but there is a lot of back and forth that gets a little tiresome.

I also was a little thrown off by Achilles attitude to a certain incident in the second half of the book. He was always a bit pompous but I felt like he acted too bratty during that portion. I felt like he fell into this type of person he was supposed to be instead do the person he truly was. I did like that Patroculus pointed it out and showed the reader that Achilles was acting out of character

“Whichever you choose, you are wrong.”

pg. 299

There was nothing that truly threw me out of the book and put me in a spot where I hated what was happening. I didn’t get lost in the story at all, didn’t think anyone was way out of character. I read through the story quite quickly and highly enjoyed it.

I gave this book five stars because in the end I loved the story, the characters and the love story. It just all worked so well and gave me new appreciation for a story I know.

“What is admired in one generation is abhorred in another.”

pg. 363

Circe – Madeline Miller- Review

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How much do you know about Circe? Only remember her as the one who turned men into pigs? Ever wondered what her backstory was? Circe was disgraced, cast out and forced to find a way to stand on her own two feet. She went from wishing anyone would see her, to hiding from the world to finding her place in the moral and immortal world.

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4

I have stated in past reviews and posts that I adore mythology. Something about these past stories still speaking to us today pulls me in. I love learning about how ancient people tried to make sense of the world we live in. Take that love and give me a new way of seeing a character I have read about before and you have my undivided attention.

I know of Circe as the woman who turned men into pigs and that was all I knew about her. So when I saw this book popping up on blog after blog I had to give it a try and I adored it. I thought the way this book breathed new life into a character I knew next to nothing about and really didn’t care about, was fantastic.

I loved the progression of Circe’s character throughout the story. She starts off as someone who is left out. She is the unwanted child of Helios. She is not special, she is missing something. She does not stand out and no one sees her.

I thought it was really interesting how she fought to be seen when she was younger. She goes so far as to trying to get herself punished. She thinks if she does something everyone hates at least someone will know her. Someone will notice her. I found it really interesting how this is the place where she started.

Throughout the book we learn how she was able to find a way to be true to herself. She didn’t need anyone to see her because she saw herself. She found purpose in her own life, in her own talents and destiny. She found her feet and she stood proudly tall. Her evolution was inspiring and great to read.

The writing of this book was lyrical. I fell into the words and they kept me captured throughout the story. The comparisons made were unique. I felt like I have never read a book quite like this one before. I never found myself feeling like I have heard the metaphors or similes used before. It swept me onward and through the the story and I wanted to read it not only for the story but for the way the words sounded in my head.

I also found it really interesting how Odysseus was portrayed in this story. I know him as this larger than life hero. He stands high and he is noble. He does everything he can to get home and take care of his wife and son. I saw him as this perfect man and this book gives us a different angle of this man who we thought we knew.

I liked that this story made Odysseus more human. He is flawed and we see that shine bright in this story. He is a man who will fight for what he wants and he kills whenever necessary. We see that darker side of him in this book, we see that he is not perfect. Through his story we get a look at PTSD in a character as well. The fact that this was explored without really naming it was interesting.

I also really enjoyed how this book explored bigger ideas that connect to us today. A good book can remark on our world without having to be outright blatant about it. You don’t have to give a lecture on rape culture to get your message across. Miller does a great job at commenting on real life events in a non-heavy handed way.

What I was just okay with

My only issue with this book was how it ended. I loved the progression of Circe but I thought we were cheapened by the end. It felt a bit rushed. I wanted to see the way Circe took that last step into becoming who she was meant to be. Everything led up to that point and then it happened in a matter of pages.

We really only get a summary of the last part of her life. I wanted more. I wanted to feel that final connection her and how she ended up.

What I Wished was Different_
There was nothing that threw me out of this story. I enjoyed the character development, the plot lines and the writing.

I gave this book five stars on Goodreads. I was enthralled the whole way through and am eager to read her other book, The Song of Achilles.

Quotes:
“Beneath the smooth, familiar face of things is another that waits to tear the world in two.” (pg. 16)

“Sons were not punished.” (pg. 182)

“Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep. ” (pg. 206)

 

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