YA Weekend: Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series: Book 2 of Goddess War
Publisher: Tor Teen (October 14, 2014)
Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m a mythology buff, so naturally I became drawn to Kendare Blake’s Goddess War series. The first book introduced us to the concept that the Old Gods of Greek Mythology have always existed, and that well-known deities such as Athena and Hermes have lived among us since time immemorial. But all of a sudden, the gods are losing their immortality, dying slowly in the most bizarre and most horrific ways. All eyes turn to Kincade, New York, home of Cassandra of Troy…or the reincarnated version of her, anyway. As the gods take sides and prepare for war, the psychic teen may hold the key to everything.
After reading the first book, I could say I enjoyed it unequivocally. This second book, however, left me with mixed feelings.
Issue 1: Pacing. It falls on the slower side, especially at the beginning. Looking back, the biggest criticism I had with Antigoddess was that it ended with absolutely nothing resolved, closing with a cliffhanger of sorts. Happily, Mortal Gods picks up right where it left off, but then spends an excessive amount of time just trying to build back up to the level of suspense and excitement that we experienced right at the end of book one.
Issue 2: A book like Mortal Gods that has parts taking place in far flung and exotic locations across the globe should feel vast, epic, HUGE. At times, I sense this vibe struggling to come through in the narrative, but it never quite manages it. I love Kendare Blake’s writing style and she generally does a great job with her world-building, but for some reason the scenes that took place in the jungles of Malaysia or the outback of Australia felt rushed and glossed over.
On the other hand, she seems to do a much better job with fantasy settings. I adored the scenes that took place in Hades’ Underworld or at Mount Olympus, they were amazing.
Issue 3: The character of Cassandra. What happened? Granted, her life has been turned upside down and she’s experienced a lot of terrible things, including the loss of someone she loved deeply. All these events have shaped her, and while she’s a much deeper and well-rounded character now, she has also transformed into a downright bratty kid. Her anger and impulsiveness makes her say and do dumb things, and that makes it really hard to sympathize with her.
The final thing I want to talk about isn’t really an issue, but might be something to consider if you’re thinking of picking up this series. This is a Young Adult novel and it really shows. Most of the main characters are teens, including the incarnations of the Greek Gods, and there’s practically no adult presence. For some readers, this is of little to no importance. For me, it does take away some of the realism and immersion. If you can buy (or don’t care) that a teen can go jetsetting across the world, miss school and disappear for days on end without her parents even getting a tiny bit suspicious – or alternatively, they’re actually okay with it – then you shouldn’t have a problem at all.
I don’t want this review to sound too harsh though, because I did have a good time with Mortal Gods. My favorite part of it is still the unique and interesting take on the Greek Gods, and I really enjoyed how certain snippets of the story would play out like a very loose version of the Iliad, particularly when it involved the relationships between characters.
Bottom line: a pretty good book and sequel, though I still liked the first book better. I’m looking forward to the next one.
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Tor Teen!