Imagine the world of Percy Jackson with The Hunger Games happening every seven years, in which tributes are not children, but the Greek gods themselves. This essentially is the concept of Lore, the latest YA fantasy offering from the lovely Alexandra Bracken.
In the world of Lore, the Greek gods are real. Every seven years, as punishment for a rebellion, nine gods walk the earth as mortals and are hunted by the descendants of ancient Greek heroes. The hunter who successfully kills a god, receives that god’s power and becomes a new god themselves. This is the Agon.
The story centers on Lore, a god-hunter-turned-fist-fighter descendant of the ancient “House of Perseus”, who has tried to escape the bloodbath of the Agon after her family was brutally murdered by a cheating, rival house in the last cycle.
However, a new Agon is about to start, and it’s set in her stomping grounds, New York City.
When a thought-to-be-dead childhood friend suddenly tracks her down, asking for her help with the hunt, and she finds the goddess Athena bleeding out on the front steps of her brownstone offering her a deal to seek vengeance on her family’s murderer, Lore realizes that she cannot escape her past. Blood must be spilled, and gods slain, or humanity will be brought to its knees.
As an avid fan of mythology-inspired stories and horrifying, bloody to-the-death competitions, my expectations for this book were quit high. This novel engaged me with its original concept of the god and goddess murder spree that is the Agon. With that said, the characters lacked the emotional connection and depth that I hoped to experience, like I did with the MCs of Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games.
Don’t get me wrong, Lore has a terribly sad backstory and her desire to runaway from that pain makes sense. However, she is missing the essential charisma that an MC needs to connect with a reader. She feels emotionally blocked off from the reader. One moment she acts dark and brooding, wrestling with trauma, and the next she’s cracking jokes with her buddy Miles. The inconsistency gives me emotional whiplash. Her character simply lacks the emotional intelligence needed to make a fantastic concept and plot like this hit us in the feels. And honestly, most of what I’ve said for Lore can be said for the rest of the characters as well.
On the positive side, the high-intensity action and always-on-the-move mentality kept the story from dragging. It feels cinematic and epic, like a Greek murder game should be. There’s blood and gore, and a lot of murder. If you enjoy bloody competitions, then that is definitely served up here.
On the downside, there are some triggering scenarios that readers should be made aware. There is some graphic child murder, attempted rape, and abuse.
One final note, for readers expecting romance, it’s there, but it’s not even in the backseat, it’s in the trunk. While I do enjoy a good childhood friend romance, the author makes the mistake of putting too much stock in that we will care about a childhood friend of Lore’s even though we didn’t get to experience that history.
All in all, while the characters ultimately felt a tad forced and hollow, its dynamite concept and use of Greek mythology makes the story worth reading.