Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Review Time! - The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: LGBTQ+ (M/M; M/F,) Mythology, Historical Fiction*, Fantasy*, Magic Realism* (*ish)
A few starting notes:
If any queer men have reviewed this then let me know! I'd love to link to your review.
This was actually a recommendation from the lovely Charlotte @ Bookmarks and Blogging - who was spot-on with her rec! :)
This is a retelling of the story of the Iliad (the Trojan War and all that jazz) from the point-of-view (POV) of Patroclus, the beloved companion of hero Achilles.
What follows is a Greek tragedy of love and war.
Uerkjnhrylojmnprkmtnoltknklnmnbreope!!!!!!!! This bookkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guys, I love Patroclus - HE WAS A PURE PRECIOUS LITTLE GEMSTONE, AND THEY DIDN'T DESERVE HIM DAMMIT!
The strong voice of Patroclus comes through the POV - and I think this was a smart plan. Achilles is a lot more likeable through Patroclus' eyes than I think he would be in 3rd person.
Honestly, Achilles can be a bit of a douche - and it's only through Patroclus' love and light that we see him as more than just the boring role of 'the perfect hero.'
Patroclus is the first and foremost strong point of this book - he is just so exceptionally... lovely and wonderful, that I would love to actually meet him.
And even though I had some knowledge of the story of the Iliad, and knew how this was going to end, IT STILL RIPPED MY HEART OUT AND HANDED IT TO ME (in a good way.)
And the writing is completely awesome-sauce and good quality :)
Not so great bits:
*rolls up sleeves* - Look, for a book that won a women's fiction prize, I expected less of a sh**y role for the women.
We have few female characters - in a way, that's not too bad, because we're at war with a Greek army, so I wouldn't expect that many women around.
But every woman in this book gets either married off to the highest bidder and/or against her will, raped, murdered, or some combination of all three.
There's a lot of rape here - and it's used as a throwaway plot device, just something that happens. Again, probably not unrealistic - but the emotion, the trauma, and the victim seriously needed more attention.
I've seen - out and about there in Internet-land - criticism of Patroclus' representation.
Some people seem to think that he was overly feminised or forced too much into the 'wife' role in the relationship, but without knowing the backgrounds of the reviewers, I honestly can't tell you whether this is a legitimate concern from queer reviewers, or masculine insecurity from heterosexual reviewers.
What I can tell you is that I didn't find him overly feminised at any point.
There's some sexy-times, much violence, and swearing, as well as the aforementioned references to rape.
OK, there were some issues. But I loved this book.
AND I ADORE PATROCLUS - HE WILL BREAK YOUR HEART DAMMIT!!!!! THEY DID NOT DESERVE HIS PURE GOODNESS!!!!!!!!
Update 19th Feb 2017: I've become aware that this book has issues regarding the Bury Your Gays trope. If anyone has a post or review which discusses this, I would be more than happy to link to it.
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