I know I say this a lot, but I LOVED the idea of this book. Put the Olympian gods smack dab in New York during the height of prohibition and make them the biggest criminal organization selling booze and running brothels? Uh, yes please! I have recently been on a mafia and organized crime kick so I figured this was the perfect time to finally settle in and read this book, especially since I do love me some Greek mythology. But the story I got wasn’t the one I was expecting, and not in a good way either? Kind of, even now I’m still a bit conflicted.
The Greek gods, especially Zeus, are not good characters neither in myth nor in this story. So, on that score, the author did a good job! But at the same time, none of the Olympians are likeable, and that includes the ones who, traditionally in literature, are good or benign at best. And the ones that are pretty neutral are barely in the book at all, so what you’re left with is a bunch of gods who spend way too much time focusing on everyone’s bodies in a constantly gratuitous manner—once maybe would have been fine, but it comes up all the time just how hot these characters are compared to mortals and the lascivious way they are described. Part of the descriptions were fine and made total sense with setting the scene of the 1920’s, but it was getting redundant with how often the gods look at themselves and think how gorgeous they themselves are. But back to my original point, it got harder and harder for me to care about the turf war Zeus and his family were embroiled in because I didn’t care if they won or lost. Only the “bad” characters stick around for any length of time, and while their "personality" is true to form and therefore good characterization, it does make it very hard to be invested in the plot. But what really did it in for me is just how questionable a lot of the gods actions were, how utterly blind they were about the culprit (which meant they did purposely little investigating), and how over the top perfect—in regards to the turf war—their adversary was.
There were places in this book that had such potential for a great twist around the ultimate big bad—like the reason the gods weren’t allowed to use their powers—but it came down to overly simplistic motivations that, again, would have been fine if their adversary had been likeable at all. No one is likeable and so that should have made the ending feel good, but it still didn’t because, ultimately, I felt like the main plot was not nearly as interesting as the subplot around the banished gods. Therefore the “big conflict” didn’t really rise to the occasion especially since it seemed so easy for the big bad to go about causing strife for the gods. I did like that the gods criticized the narrow view of sexuality, especially at that time, so while that was at least nice to read, I can’t say I really enjoyed this book the way I had thought—and hoped—I would which is why I’m giving it 2 stars. It’s definitely a difficult premise to write from; you have protagonists that are more morally bad than grey and an antagonist that is shallowly evil/psychotic, so I do give the author props for trying something so ambitious, but ultimately it just wasn’t for me. But thanks to the author for sending me an ecopy!
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