Saturday, September 4, 2010

Snakehead Review

Book Talk: Perseus lives a quiet life on a small island with his mother, until one day he meets a beautiful princess on the run from her parents.  Before long, Perseus' own father, Zeus shows up to complicate his life further and set him on a quest to kill Medusa, whose looks can literally kill.  The old gods of the islands are on the decline as the new Olympian gods rise, but where do humans stand?  Are they ever anything more than the play things of these gods, subject to their whims?  Is it possible for a mortal to assert his own will in the face of divine intervention?  Will he be able to complete his fated quest?  Will he be able save the princess from her own fate?  Perseus doesn't know that if can, but he knows that he must try.

Rocks My Socks: In addition to re-telling the myths of Perseus and Andromeda there is also a lot of interesting information about ancient Greek politics and society.  It reminds me of Mary Renault, but for children.  I also love the female characters in this book; they are strong and layered and full of life.  I always enjoy it when, during re-tellings, famous romantic couples are allowed to actually meet and get to know each other and fall in love over a longer period of time than it takes to kill a dragon and steal a kiss.  There's also some good substance to the book and commentary on current events using the lens of the past that are rather thought-provoking, which I always enjoy.

Rocks In My Socks: There are some more modern elements and view points incorporated into the text which are a bit annoying in that they are anachronistic, but seem to be done intentionally.  Mostly it's in a more modern perspective, which I don't really mind being incorporated into historical fiction.  Others are obviously just meant to be jokes, though, like the 'invention' of various modern foods by the chef at the tavern.  It also doesn't sit right with me that the lovely, intelligent Andromeda resigns herself to her fate, but I guess Halam had to get her to her proper place in the story somehow.

Every Book Its Reader: I'd recommend this book to teens who enjoyed the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  Although set in ancient times, there are enough similarities in pacing and subject matter that fans should enjoy this story about Percy's namesake.  There's great, strong characters of both sexes, so both boys and girls will have great characters to identify with, and the romance is pretty understated.  Adults who enjoy fairy tales and myths re-told will find plenty to satisfy them as well. 

Snakehead by Ann Halam


  1. Yes, Athena is in it, but only briefly. She advises Perseus and equips him for his journey, and then meets him again after his exploits, following the myth.