Tag: adventure

The Song of Achilles

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The Song of AchillesAchilles. A hero of old. Known for his invincibility save for his heel. But Patroclus? Who’s that? A lesser known figure, Patroclus was someone close to Achilles who made the ultimate sacrifice in the famous legend of the Trojan War. Written from the perspective of Patroclus by Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles follows the story of the Trojan War and paints it in a new light. No longer an epic war of glory and riches, The Song of Achilles sings the tale of the Trojan War with the sorrowful tune of broken friendships and the devastation of death.

Patroclus is your typical underdog. Though he was a prince, his father never cared for him, his mother was shunned, and he felt pretty much worthless his entire life. Until he met Achilles, son of King Peleus. Achilles is everything Patroclus is not – fair, athletic, talented at music and more. But against all odds, they become inseparable companions – even more than just that. The true identity of Patroclus is unclear. Some versions say he was Achilles’ best friend, others say he was a relative. In this version, however, he is neither. He’s a lover.

Throughout, the author heavily hints at the romantic feelings between the two and the deep bonds they share. Which brings me to warn the readers: there are scenes in this book that are a bit more mature, so I would only recommend it for people ages 15 and up. But it’s still an awesome book, so don’t let this put you off!

As someone who is super interested in Greek mythology, especially the Trojan War (it’s my favourite story), I found this book to be extremely captivating. I’ve always been torn between the Trojans and the Greeks but this book plucked my heart strings in favour of the Greeks. After reviewing multiple sources – books, movies, articles, websites – I found that it depends on which version you look at. Sometimes it’s the gods’ fault, when the judgment of Paris is involved. Other times, it’s the Greeks’ fault, when Paris is portrayed as a saviour, rescuing a willing Helen from a miserable marriage that she did not want. Then, sometimes it can also be the Trojans’ fault, if Paris really did abduct Helen.

Another aspect I really like was the depth at which it covered the story. It’s one thing to know a brief summary of what happened, it’s another to understand its branches – origins, motives, etc. Miller gives the characters of The Song of Achilles voices, emotions, and makes them come to life. The tragic ending of the Trojan War was previously dulled for me by the lack of detail but when I grew attached to the characters, the tragedy hit me like a hammer. Suddenly, the reader sees the story through a kaleidoscope – bright and beautiful.

Join Patroclus and Achilles on a breathtaking, heartbreaking adventure you won’t forget.

The Name of this Book is Secret (The Secret Series, Book 1)

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The Name of this Book is SecretIn the first book – The Name of this Book is Secret – of this thrilling series written by the mysterious author, Pseudonymous Bosch, the story is told from the interesting perspective of an omniscient, omnipresent author with an unknown identity. Our eleven-year-old protagonists, Cassandra and Max-Ernest, are unalike in every way yet they form a dynamic duo and soon embark on a load of adventures.

In the beginning of the book, Cass’s mother goes on a vacation and leaves Cass with her substitute grandfathers. When a real estate agent brings some junk to the old fire station where Cass is living for the meantime, a strange box filled with vials of catches her attention. After hearing that it belonged to a magician who suddenly disappeared, Cass and Max-Ernest go to the house to secretly explore it.

Along the way, they almost get caught doing so by the story’s antagonists – the suspicious Ms. Mauvais (which literally means Ms. Bad!) and Dr. L. This rich, beautiful, but creepy couple always wear white gloves on their hands and they want something from Cass and Max. Throughout the story, they face the abduction of an unusual classmate, a horrifying discovery, and uncover a secret that will change their lives forever.

This is one of my all-time favourite books because it’s an easy yet interesting read. It’s very light-hearted, as the author leaves funny and quirky footnotes that sometimes give you more information. The author tells the story in a way that makes it seem like the author is a friend, instead of a detached lecturer, which gives the books a friendly, relatable element. The author’s real name is unknown – the name given is obviously a pseudonym (haha) – making everything more mysterious and enthralling.

The whole theme of ‘secrets’ is absolutely wonderful and captures the reader entirely. Set a good pace, the book will make you laugh and maybe even cry (perhaps more so later on in the series). Although anyone can read it, I would highly recommend this for a younger audience as there is a pretty bubbly, almost childish vibe. Perfect for grade 5-7.

Don’t miss out on this phenomenal book (and it’s sequels too) that will leave an astonishing impression in your heart and memory.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Book 1)

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The Lightning ThiefMeet Percy Jackson. A dyslexic, trouble-making, twelve-year-old with ADHD, few friends, poor grades, little money, and the worst step-father ever. Ever since he was a kid, Percy has been plagued by freakish, inexplicable accidents. Just when he thinks his life can’t get any worse, he discovers a startling truth – the reason for those accidents: he’s a Greek demigod – half mortal, half deity. Thrown into a world where myth becomes reality, Percy must adapt and learn how to fight off the monsters that want to claim his life. He goes to Camp Half-Blood, a camp designed to train modern-day demigods. On the way, he sees a loved one dissolve in a “shimmering golden form” in the hands of an enemy.

With no other choice, Percy joins the camp and trains, while being pushed around by some of the campers. When he is falsely accused of committing a large-scale crime – one that could start a war between the gods – Percy is forced to embark on an adventure with two companions to clear his name and fix the situation. On the way, he discovers more about the gods, new powers he never knew he had, and hope. In Rick Riordan’s endearing spin on Greek mythology in The Lightning Thief, the gods no longer seem like distant beings and the characters will cast a spell over the readers until this book remains a constant favourite.

Having read so many books in my life, it’s incredibly difficult for me to choose a favourite book when asked. However, in those situations, my thoughts always stray to The Lightning Thief. Even though I am slightly past the age for reading a book of this level, I still recall the story with nostalgic fondness.

The Lightning Thief is almost perfect in every aspect. I say ‘almost’ is not because there is a problem, but because I am cautious in calling any literary work perfect. Personally, I find it hard to discover flaws in this masterpiece. From the plot to the character developments to the conflicts, everything is set up cleanly enough so that there are no holes, but not so much that everything is laid out before you. The reader still has to interpret, infer, and piece together meanings themselves.

There is a shocking yet sensible plot twist that makes the story all the more exciting. You didn’t expect that it would happen, but now that it did, you think back to the clues the author left and it suddenly makes sense.

Riordan writes in an extremely humorous way that is suitable for all ages (although more suitable to younger audiences). I read this when I was in grade 4 or so, and I believe that it’s perfect for kids ages 10 to 14. But this is a story that never gets old.

Take a chance and enter this fantastic world that will tug at your heart strings, tickle your funny bone, and bring you on a mythical roller coaster. You won’t regret it.

The Runaway King (The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 2)

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The Runaway KingAs Jaron tries to adjust to his new role as king of Carthya in the second book of the Ascendance Trilogy – The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen – he faces the derision of his subjects, an assassination attempt, and the threat of a looming war with a neighbouring kingdom. Forced to make way for a steward as soon as he ascends, Jaron decides to meet his enemies undercover by himself to either eliminate them or bring them to his side. He travels to Avenia right into the heart of enemy territory and once again becomes Sage, using his wits and skills to survive on a journey of peril.

Suffering from internal conflicts, Jaron struggles to deem himself worthy in the eyes of his subjects while remaining true to himself, juggling the burden of his kingdom’s safety and old enemies who appear where he least expects it. He will have to face the choice between his duties as King Jaron of Carthya and the things he wants as Sage. On his way, he will make new friends and uncover secrets that even he didn’t know before.

After reading the first book with my class, our teacher decided to read this highly anticipated novel as well when it came out. It was also amazingly written, but I feel that it is more of a filler to develop the plot than a masterpiece of its own.

Although this book is slightly shadowed by the brilliance of the first, I still believe that it is worth reading. I was a little disappointed by the ending and I feel that Nielsen didn’t put as much thought into the conclusion, but this book is absolutely necessary as it sheds lights on multiple aspects of the story. You learn a lot more about our protagonist, the situation of the country, and it answers many questions from the last cliff hanger.

Follow Nielsen’s work on a journey of sacrifice, loss, and conflict that will make the sweet taste of victory all the better.

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Trilogy, Book 3)

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The Shadow ThroneIn the beginning of the remarkable last book of the Ascendance Trilogy – The Shadow Throne – by Jennifer Nielsen, Carthya falls to a state of war. Surrounded by three neighbouring countries – Avenia, Gelyn, and Mendenwal – Carthya has little hope of survival and Roden, who is now a friend of King Jaron and also the new Captain of the Guard, is sent to protect the northern borders from greedy Gelyn (a long-time ally of bloodthirsty Avenia). Meanwhile, Jaron discovers that King Vargan of Avenia has taken a hostage – someone very close to him.  Disregarding his advisors’ suggestions (which were more like pleas) to stay in Drylliad, he ventures on his own to save the love of his life and his country.

Jennifer Nielsen once again weaves a beautiful piece of literature in the dynamic tale of Jaron in his battle for peace. This was another amazing book that is definitely worth reading.

Although, that being said, I must also warn you that there is a shock and a disappointment in this epic. The author pulls a major stunt in her writing, causing all my friends and I to be absolutely stunned. Then after several chapters, she pulled an even larger stunt. Some of you may be okay with this, but personally, I found that it took away from the significance of the stunt and its impact on the plot. I know this sounds very vague and confusing, but I guess you’ll just have to read it to find out what I’m talking about.

In fact, The Shadow Throne is filled with plot twists and in the end, it’s hard to distinguish who is the villain and who is, ultimately, a hero. To find out the truth for yourselves, come read the breathtaking conclusion to one of the greatest series ever (in my opinion, at least).