Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Olympians (The First 6 Books)

By the Beard of Zeus!  George O'Connor's Olympians series is...amazing.

And the newest in the series:

I don't know why it took me so long to read these- no lie, they've been on my desk for almost 3 months.  I am FLOORED by how well-done this series is!

I was a Classical Studies minor, spent a summer in Greece when I was in high school, memorized Edith Hamilton's Mythology, and in my younger years wore out a Mickey Mouse mythology book.  The picture of Medusa with her snakey hair and dripping, body-less neck have stuck with me. I tried to find a picture to post here, but it seems it's been a long time defunct :-(  If anyone can help a girl out- it had a white cover, Mickey, Myths...(oh the irony of the librarian giving that description).


Update: Oh my goodness, I found it! Thank goodness for eBay! Now to convince my husband our house needs more books...


I won't go book-by-book, because I have a feeling it would be a lot of repetition of how much I love Olympians. So, I will do a general overview.

O'Connor uses beautiful language- his narrative reads like an epic poem, but is more approachable to younger (or reluctant) readers.  I would recommend starting with Zeus, but the books don't have to be read in order.  I just think Zeus and the whole creation story are a great kick-off (plus, there's an amazing illustration of the Titans that is haunting and powerful.)  

The bold colors and illustrations sweep you up, and before you know it, you're halfway (or all the way) through the book.  Actually, I had a stack of these in front of me at work for this review.  As I was reading one, one of our regular boys (a bit of a reluctant reader) came and sat across from me.  I told him he could look at them if he wanted.  He sat there for an hour, and read three of the books.  He said he loved the stories and the illustrations, and I was excited to tell him that there are more coming!

Each book focuses on an Olympian, but also on those involved with their stories.  For example, we learn about Hera, but also Heracles/Hercules.  We learn about Athena, but also Arachne and Medusa.  We learn about Poseidon, but also Odysseus and Minos.  

The books also include notes about the writing process, a glossary with translations, information on characters, discussion questions (like, "Zeus's dad tries to eat him.  Has your dad ever tried to eat you?")  As well as a bibliography and recommended reading for different age groups.

I especially enjoyed O'Connor's takes on certain situations, and even more enjoyed that he is trying to tell the women's stories, too.  "For when the men of ancient Greece wrote down their stories, they did not think to ask the women theirs." (Hera, p. 65)  This, of course, gives a deeper appreciation and understanding of the goddesses, and other female characters.  There are things I had overlooked or never thought of before, in my mythology reading/classes, and I love that this is a medium for a new take, a new perspective on such ancient stories.  Bravo, George.  Bravo.

Honestly, if the next six books are anything like the first- I will be getting the entire collection for my department, and for my home.  

I would recommend this series to all ages.  Anyone interested in mythology or folklore, Greek history/culture, superheroes (cuz really, these are the first superheroes), comic books...just...so much awesome!  Annnd...stay tuned for a special post in a couple of weeks!  In the meantime, you can follow the Blog Tour for Aphrodite here.

The Olympians series is published by :01 First Second. Copies provided by my awesome Public Library System/Consortium.  

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