We all know that 2020 was a pretty shitty year for books and all I could hope for in 2021 is just one good book. That’s all I needed; one, single new release that would simply be good. And Lore blew that out of the water and gave me everything I’d been missing. I’m no stranger to Alexandra Bracken as an author as I’ve been reading her stories for a good handful of years now, so I expected a lot from this new standalone. And thank every single god above that she delivered. Everything I’ve been complaining about in 2020 books, everything I’d wished to see done differently, she did right. All my boxes were checked off and more, and I’m beyond happy to be delivering a beautifully glowing review of Lore.
The first thing that really sold me on this book was how it was a story more or less about Greek mythology being real and having its own place in our world, though it’s unbeknownst to majority of the world’s population, but what really drove it home was the narrative and overall writing. I’ve always known that Bracken was a great writer, thanks to her Darkest Minds series and Passenger duology, but I felt like you could really tell how much she’s grown since her first book came out. I loved that it was in third person, which I so desperately needed it to be, and it allowed the reader to really understand the story as it played out and really see how the world worked from a true outsider perspective, rather than having everything come through Lore’s lens and personal monologues. So I firstly thank Bracken for actually using the right narrative for this story. It went hand in hand with how well she wrote and crafted the story, making the world of Greek mythology her own yet still managing to respect the original myths and actually exploring what these gods and these stories actually represent, especially in a modern day lens. You could tell how much thought and purpose went into the story, how there was enough explanation of the myths to those who aren’t familiar as well as little tidbits and jokes to those who are, all working together and making a story that simply clicked. And I loved every bit of it.
I think what truly made this book great is that, rather than being drawn out into a three or more book series, this was a standalone and it allowed Bracken to say what she wanted to say and have a complete story. And because she knew the limit of the story and its parameters, it allowed the plot to flow in beautiful way and keep a steady pace throughout. While on the surface it seems like a relatively simple plot, how it’s basically about the Nine Olympians being punished with the hunt of the familial bloodlines of famous demigods and heroes in Greek mythology, there were a lot of twists and turns that prevented the story from falling into predictability. The plot twists that Bracken introduced weren’t just for shock value, which many authors fall prey to, but they worked with and for the story, serving a purpose to the very end. There weren’t multiple POVs to muddle the plot or multiple secondary storylines to overpower or confuse Lore’s story because Bracken made sure that all these characters had meaning and a role in the story. While the Agon hunt itself was exciting, it was the history of the hunt and the creation of the bloodlines, the alliances and antagonism between families, and the overall relationship between the Gods and the Blooded that made the book so exciting and unputdownable. There are simply too many amazing elements of this book’s story to choose from to explain why it’s so good, but the way they work together is what makes it stand out, in my opinion.
I’ve always felt that Bracken is so good at creating and writing characters and this was no different. While they all felt like Classic Bracken characters, there was still enough to differentiate them from her past characters and see them as their own. I can’t say if Lore is my favourite Bracken female character, but I know that I immensely enjoyed her character. I loved that she wasn’t a typical chosen one, someone who was seen as a saviour to the Blooded world or the messiah to the Agon, like most YA Chosen One stories go. And that’s because this isn’t a story about being chosen by others or by fate, but by making your own choices, and I felt like Lore embodied that perfectly. After the death of her family, Lore had sworn to never be involved in this world again, hiding away from the world she grew up in to protect herself. But once the goddess Athena is found bleeding on her doorstep, she almost feels like she has no choice but to get involved in that world again and put a stop to the true extinction of her bloodline. And yet, though Lore was pushed back into the Agon, she kept ensuring her choices would help her be free in the end and those she cared about would be safe. But the idea of choice goes beyond Lore, with Miles being the only Unblooded involved in the story, no matter what Lore tried to do to get him away from the hunt, he kept choosing to stay and help because he could in his own way. Athena chose her own path to get back Zeus’s respect. Wrath chose his own path to win the Agon. On and on, every angle of this book emphasized the importance of choice and was exemplified in so many ways and was really great to see how in a book full of Greek myths and an entire ideology reliant on the actual Fates, the real star of the show was the idea of choice.
Honestly, my only complaint is that there wasn’t an epilogue for this book and I really felt like it needed one. I mean, the ending was really wonderful on its own and was an amazing note to end on, encapsulating the purpose of the story perfectly, but it just needed a smidge more. I needed that bit of “six months later” just to see how people are faring and if the end of the book really affected anything big or small in any way. I’m also incredibly greedy and that’s why I need more but I digress.
I don’t think I’ll stop raving about this book for many years to come. It’s the kind of book that pulls you in and gives you everything you never knew you needed. There’s also a slight sense of timelessness to it, allowing it to be read and enjoyed by any one person at any point in time and can bridge so many different ages and demographics together. I bet if there was a bit more tinkering with this it could’ve sold as an Adult book and it would’ve still hit the same way. I loved this book from start to end and I cannot wait to see what Bracken plans to write next. If you’re not reading her, you’re doing something wrong.
From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds comes a sweepingly ambitious, high-octane tale of power, destiny, love and redemption.
Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.
Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.
The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.