Today, Kendare Blake's modern re-imagining of the twilight of the Greek gods ends with the release of Book 3 in the Goddess Wars trilogy, UNGODLY.
With the CLIFFHANGER that Book 2 (MORTAL GODS) ended on last year, I have been itching to get my hands on this book for what feels like an eternity. So you can imagine my UTTER DELIGHT when my book fairy, @celeste_pewter, managed to snag me an ARC at ALA this year. I didn't even think there would be ARCS!
Anyway, since the book is out now, I thought review for it - something I apparently haven't done in over a year (books reviews, that is). But I really do think this is such a fun (if also feelings-destroying) series and one of the more interesting takes at the whole Greek Mythology thing, and I'd love to have more people to talk to about it!
That said, since it is the last book in a series, there will probably be minor spoilers.
Disclaimer: Gifted an ARC from a book blogger, who got it at a convention in exchange for an honest review. I'm also Twitter acquaintances with the author.
PROS: Quick to read, fast plot, clever use of mythology, interesting characters
CONS: some characters a little underdeveloped; climax felt a bit rushed
Intellectual Rating: 7 out of 10
Emotional Grade: B
Goodreads blurb: As ancient immortals are left reeling, a modern Athena and Hermes search the world for answers in the final Goddess War novel by the acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood
For the Goddess of Wisdom, what Athena didn’t know could fill a book. That’s what Ares said.
So she was wrong about some things. So the assault on Olympus left them beaten and scattered and possibly dead. So they have to fight the Fates themselves, who, it turns out, are the source of the gods’ illness. And sure, Athena is stuck in the underworld, holding the body of the only hero she has ever loved.
But Hermes is still topside, trying to power up Andie and Henry before he runs out of time and dies, or the Fates arrive to eat their faces.
And Cassandra is up there somewhere too. On a quest for death. With the god of death.
Just because things haven’t gone exactly according to plan, it doesn't mean they’ve lost. They’ve only mostly lost. And there’s a big difference.
Overall: I have been waiting for this conclusion for so long because last year's Mortal Gods ended on a brutal cliffhanger and I needed to know how it ended. I'm glad to report that I was satisfied with how the series ended, and I was moreover surprised by how relatively not devastating it was - especially considering how much Blake broke my heart with the endings of the first 2 books!
I love the way Blake has written her dying gods in this series, keeping their capriciousness and ancient-timey savagery but also adapting them to the modern day. Athena and Hermes continue to be complex with both of them facing fundamental character challenges (e.g. Athena having to confront her feelings; Hermes having to become a leader, to hold his ground and fight) along with their increasing mortality. I also loved the unexpected exploration and rounding out of our antagonistic characters, Ares and Aphrodite.
Unfortunately, and I wish this wasn't so, I found the mortal characters in this series less compelling - save for Cassandra (who gets the most page-time given she and Athena are the main protagonists). I don't think I ever really warmed to her, but I appreciated that she was not nice and behaved very much in the way someone grieving and raging and under enormous pressure would behave. As for the other characters, I was glad to see more time with Andie and Henry because I've always felt they were the blandest of the mortals. I'm not sure what exactly it is, but I kept waiting for something more from either of them.
Well, and I love Odysseus in pretty much any form. So I can't really comment upon his character because I am hopelessly biased. He is my forever favorite, and I do enjoy the way Blake writes him.
A few new characters were introduced in this final book, most of them in small roles. One of the more permanent characters was intriguing, but I did think his late-ish introduction to the series left him less developed than I would have liked. I get it's probably some kind of metaphor for Cassandra's journey, but yeah, very cool character/concept but not quite enough page-time, I think, to develop him or the nature of his and Cassandra's relationship.
Like I said, I was satisfied with how this last book ended. Despite the corners Blake pushed her characters into and the apparent inevitability of certain events, Blake managed to pull some clever plot twists (as usual) that didn't feel like a cheat. I particularly liked how the Achilles thing resolved itself.
That said, I did feel like the pacing was slightly off this book. Particularly, the climax felt rushed to me, and I remember thinking as I read that I couldn't believe the final battle hadn't happened yet given the amount of pages I had left. I suppose with the epicness of the battles that took place in the other books, I was expecting something more like that? I'm not saying I need a flashy fight, but I did think Oh, was that it / that was quick when certain things resolved. And I think given all the build-up, it seemed like the solution was relatively simple?
I might have also felt this way because for at least the first half of the book, the characters are in very different places. They're all running separate stories meant to converge later, and while these separate stories do prepare the characters for their final challenge, I think maybe all of that flash and action and time spent on them made the end seem kind of subdued in comparison.
While there are definitely some loose ends (some I wish were a little neater), I liked how the story ended. I wish there was maybe a tiny bit more falling action/ resolution, but I think that's mostly because I wanted to see the gang all together one last time. I'll miss these gods and mortals, and if they should ever return for another adventure, I'll be at the roadside asking to hitch a ride.
Blake is great at writing dark stories that are nonetheless fun, and I always enjoy her snarky, prickly, contrary, and wily characters. With this series, I especially loved how she played with Greek Mythology and her concept of how gods would die. (Spoiler: it's not quietly.)
Pick this series up if you like things that play with the tropes of Greek Myth and their characters, no-nonsense girls, and kinda dark/creepy descriptions (it's the horror writer in Blake rearing its terrifying head), Or you know, if you liked Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood, you'll probably like this too. (There's only slightly less blood.)
Have you read any of these books? If so, do let me know what you thought in the comments!