Sunday, April 8, 2012
Athena Won't Know What Hit Her
Greek Mythology is so full of interesting stories and characters. The Gods alone are full of material to play off and manipulate into new stories with familiar faces. Kelly Keaton did just that with her first book, Darkness Becomes Her where Athena was an almighty beast of a Goddess who had no problem torturing and killing beings for her own enjoyment. Now, in A Beautiful Evil, we watch Ari, a gorgon girl who hasn't yet come into her own, give Athena a run for her money.
Now that Ari knows what she truly is, the mixture of a gorgon (offspring of Medusa) and Son of Perseus (hunters sworn to kill gorgons and other magical monsters), she realizes how unique she really is. But her impending doom of soon becoming a monster who cannot even be touched without turning people to stone is not what troubles Ari... It is the fact that Athena has her father and Violet, one of the kids who took her in when she found herself in the destroyed Garden District of New Orleans. Ari knows she is no match for a God like Athena, but that won't stop her from hunting Athena down.
Sebastian and the rest of the kids who live with Ari are determined to find Athena, but they have to do so with the help of the Novem, the elite of magical folks who own and run the city of New Orleans. Ari is granted access to the secret library which is stored in Pandora's Box (but not really a box) and holds the secrets of the universe. It is there that she gets the idea of locating Athena's temple and hitting her where it hurts, but the only problem is, the entry to her temple isn't so easy to locate or to open. Hidden in the middle of the wasteland of beasts and soulless creatures of New Orleans, the location of the door might be just as dangerous as what lies on the other side. But there is only one way for Ari to get her father and Violet back, and she has no intention of leaving them to Athena's murderous rage. Even if it means releasing the gorgon inside her.
I really loved the first story, Darkness Becomes Her, but this sequel fell a little flat for me. I did like it, but not as much as I liked the first book. At times the story seemed incredibly rushed. A character would be attacked and die in the course of four paragraphs and *poof* just like that the action had moved on around them. The pace of the book left me a little confused at times, and more than a little frustrated at other times. The way things ended in the final showdown(s) was also symptomatic of this bizarre pacing and I had to reread it to make sure I understood everything that had happened. My other criticism was the supporting characters. In the first book, they were just as awesome as Ari, and you couldn't get enough of them. In this book, they really are secondary characters and their charm is lost in how rarely they appear. I am not sure if I want this series to continue to a third book after reading this sequel, but the author definitely left it open for another book.
This series is age appropriate for young adults and has a good heft of choice language. The story lost its way a little in this second installment, but if a kid enjoyed the first book, they would most likely still enjoy this one. The mythology in it is interesting and I love the twists on old "tried and true" stories. The reading level is fairly simple, but combined with the language, it might be best for a low-skilled older student who needs something accessible to read.