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A Reader of Fictions: Down to Earth - Barenaked Ladies

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Down to Earth - Barenaked Ladies

The Dig
Zoe and Zeus Trilogy, Book 1

Author: Audrey Hart
Pages: 207
Review Copy Acquired from: Backlit Fiction & Audrey Hart

Brief Summary:
Zoe spends every summer at archaeological sites with her Aunt and Uncle, who have taken care of her during her breaks from boarding school ever since her parents died in a plane crash. Although her only real friend and roommate totally doesn't get how anyone could enjoy being stuck in a boring, dusty place all summer without any hot guys, Zoe loves going to the digs and hates all the typical teen stuff. This year, the site is Greece, which is pretty awesome, especially since they found this awesome old temple. Of course, she didn't plan on sneaking off alone, finding a giant iPhone, traveling back in time and becoming a God. This is sure to be one crazy summer.

Review:
My reactions to this book were really mixed. I loved the concept quite a bit and the writing wasn't too bad. The sense of humor that shows through at certain parts was also quite excellent. Unfortunately, there were also some aspects that really didn't work for me, including the sickeningly and terrifyingly quick romantic relationship between Zoe and Zeus.

Putting aside the giant iPhone that was apparently built in ancient Greece (I really hope this gets explained in a later installment), I loved the whole time travel thing and the fact that there were Greek Gods running around. These are things that make for an excellent premise, especially when some humor is added in. Certain books can't take themselves too seriously or they're not going to work out right. Hart did a great job with that at the outset.

What really frustrated me about this story can be boiled down to two different factors. First is the mythology. Hart is doing what has been done with so many other topics and reimagining the Greek gods. This has been done, of course, but it's pretty safe to say that her envisioning is original. I'll definitely give her that. Unfortunately, I had trouble buying into it. For one thing, there are only 12 gods on Olympus. Where's everyone else, like Hephaestus, the guy who was actually with Aphrodite? Plus, she's matched them all up into couples like a CW show (and they all stopped aging at 17 and are gorgeous). And, to do so, she had to change Hermes' gender to female. Why not just let there be a gay couple? I would give her props for that. Also, can we really ignore the fact that Zeus was a serious womanizer and that sometimes he raped women in animal form (ex. Leda and the Swan). This can be rectified with explanations of how his image changed in history, but it's really hard for me to get past thinking of him that way.

The second thing, which is even tougher for me, is that Zoe does not seem at all a consistent character. The Zoe of the beginning chapters is a loner and happy about it; she only vaguely cares about dressing up or boyfriends or what people think about her. Then, as soon as she meets a cute boy, she can think of nothing but those things. I liked the fairly confident, unique girl she was in the beginning, not the hair-flipping, mindless, immediately in love, Zeus-obsessed girl she became. This too could be rectified in the next installment. Perhaps after the honeymoon phase of their relationship, she will recover her normal personality. I hope so.

Obviously, I did have some concerns about the novel. However, I do imagine that it will be quite popular with teen readers and it is certainly better than some of the teen fare I have read in a similar vein. Also, if the CW doesn't pick this up for their lineup, they are missing out.

"Hey now, wake up
And lose the makeup
She makes you wanna know her
When you don't know what it's worth
Now you really wanna show her
How she's just so down to Earth"

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1 Comments:

Blogger Sarah@Catching Books said...

I read this book last week! I really enjoyed it! Thanks for the great review!

November 30, 2011 at 6:23 PM  

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