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Brunch Book Club: Twice the Books, Twice the Fun! Antigoddess and The Girl With All the Gifts

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So … hi there! *waves* Remember Brunch Book Club?

That thing where Michele from Just a Lil’ Lost and I get together once a month to talk about books we’ve read off our TBR list? Funny thing … between my being ill for-seemingly-ever and Michele getting ready to move, we actually haven’t had the chance to meet up. However, all that will be changing soon (we hope) – I’m slowly recovering from the world’s longest case of pneumonia (here’s a tip: when people tell you to slow down and rest … do it) and Michele is in uber-moving mode as we speak.

Until then, however, I figured I should post my reviews of our May and June reads. Yes, May AND June. I know. Don’t say it. Since I’m talking about two book that have been out for a while, there will likely be some spoilers – same rules apply so if you don’t want spoilers, don’t read my reviews. I won’t be hurt. Just go read the books and then come back here so we can talk about them together.

May BBC

antigoddessOld Gods never die…
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.
Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. 
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. 
Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. 
Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.

Okay, full confession time: I’ve been glomming Greek god stories for a while now. (J’accuse, Tessa Gratton). Add to that my undying love for Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips and you will realize that I have pretty high standards for modern adaptations of the classic myths. I’ll admit that it took me a few chapters to get into Antigoddess, because I wasn’t actually sure what the plan was for the characters. Once it settled down a bit, and the bigger picture was revealed, I was all in.

Told in a dual narrative between Athena (whom I secretly adored in this novel) and the reincarnated version of Cassandra, this is the story of the epic and ultimate battle of the gods – it’s truly a battle to the death. It’s a pretty horrible series of deaths, truth be told – Demeter is stretched across the land, Athena is slowly filling up with feathers and will suffocate and Hermes is wasting away no matter how much he eats. It’s quite sobering to read how these immortal gods are now laid low and facing the end to their seemingly endless lives. This isn’t a book that holds its punches, and the way Blake describes how the gods are slowly deteriorating is deliciously unpleasant. It also adds a sense of urgency to their mission – and that’s a good thing because the story for me starts to really get going once Cassandra realizes who she was/is, and Aidan reveals his true self and the race for survival commences.

If there is to be battle, then there needs to be two sides, and Athena is facing off against the evillest of step-mothers – Hera and her allies. I found Poseidon to be particularly horrid, and it’s totally changed my viewpoint of him. This is definitely not a middle grade book as the fights are graphic and vicious. Blake showed us her ability to write terrifyingly descriptive horror passages in Anna Dressed in Blood, and she doesn’t disappoint in this book either. Still, the fight scenes are epic, and are perfectly described for a fight between the gods.

The best part of the book for me had to be the strong female roles. In traditional Greek mythology, the male gods have dominate roles and the females are almost secondary. There are three very strong female protagonists in Antigoddess, and each has a significant role to play in the storyline. I also enjoyed that, while there are romance angles to the story, they are not the be-all and end-all of the plot; instead, they serve to show us another side of each character and how they are able to relate to others.

Will I read the next book in the series? I’ll admit that this one took me a while to get into, but once I was in I wanted to know how things turned out. Yes, I will likely pick up the next book in the series, but perhaps not right away. I think I’ve reached my saturation point with the gods for a little while.

Antigoddess is available for purchase now from your favourite book or e-book retailer. A copy of this book was obtained at BEA, and was read for an honest review for Brunch Book Club. ISBN: 9780765334435, 333 pages.

June BBC

GWATGNOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING.

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair.

She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

I went into this book totally blind … and I’m so glad that I did. This book was amazing – and not knowing what was happening made it even better. Part Rot & Ruin, part The Walking Dead, part Lord of the Flies, this was an incredible read about four adults and one very special little girl set in a dystopian future. A generation has passed since the Breakdown, and survival is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Everyone, that is, except Melanie, who simply wants to spend each day with her beloved Miss Justineau, her teacher and perhaps the only person who has shown her any kindness.

It quickly becomes apparent that the children in the class aren’t everyday kids, and the reason why they are kept in the military bunker becomes all-too horrifyingly clear. The lines become muddied quite quickly, and I enjoyed trying to figure out if survival should really trump evolution and who was truly the villain of the piece. There are a host of interesting questions to ask yourself about medical ethics, biological tinkering (GMOs), the needs of the many versus the few as well and others.

The characters are what transcend this book from everyday science fiction into something more. We may not like Caroline Caldwell, but we understand her thirst for knowledge. She believes in science and biology and a desire to know and her awareness of just how nature has quietly taken over makes her a character worthy of one of Margaret Atwood’s novels. Helen Justineau is the sympathetic teacher who wants to save Melanie, but who has dark secrets of her own. She is the yin to Caldwell’s yang, and they each speak from a voice of credibility. Sergeant Parks is a survivor, and the reason that they make it as far as they do. He is the brawn to Justineau’s emotion and Caldwell’s reason,but I enjoyed that he’s not written off as merely muscle. He’s observed a lot during his time, and while he is able to analyse a situation, he also understands the long-range implications of their journey.

In the end, it is Melanie – the new Pandora, the girl with all the gifts – who is the one I fixated upon. She is brilliant and loving and utterly terrifying in equal measures. She may have been raised in a vacuum with stories from the past to shape her perceptions, but she alone can see the new reality,and she alone is able to accomplish what needs to be done.

This book grabbed me and didn’t let me go; I finished it in under 24 hours and am still thinking about everything it had to say. I can’t wait to recommend this one to everyone I know.

The Girl With All the Gifts is published by Orbit Books, and distributed in Canada by Hachette Book Group. It is available for purchase, and will soon be a movie. A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ISBN: 9780356500157, 460 pages. 

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2 Responses »

  1. I loved Antigoddess and I feel like such a slacker that I haven’t read the next two books even though they’re both sitting on my shelf. As is the Girl With All the Gifts.

    I need a reading holiday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know that feeling – even when I have a free afternoon to read, I’m so concerned about other things that I don’t really focus on the books I want to read, but rather on the books I feel I should be reading! We need a reading retreat.

      Like

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