A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about Greek mythology, including the names, powers, and past stories/adventures of the nine Greek gods cursed to participate in the Agon.
The book celebrates teamwork, perseverance, and courage. It highlights how important close friends are, as well as a "found family." Lore's story arc also shows how people can overcome past trauma and survivor's guilt.
Positive Role Models
Lore is courageous if occasionally reckless. She's fierce, determined, and dedicated to defending her loved ones. Castor is intelligent, generous, kind, and protective. Van and Miles are devoted to and supportive of Castor and Lore, respectively. Although most of the characters are cued as White/of Mediterranean descent, a few supporting characters are Black, Asian, and multiracial. At least two characters are LGBTQ+.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of hunting and killing, since it's the point of the Agon. Description of violent acts and sexual assault of a minor. Most of the violence is close contact, since blades/swords are part of the mythology. There's also mass violence and property destruction. Characters are killed in a variety of ways, and the murder of an entire family is explicitly described, even the torture of children.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lore thinks of how attractive, beautiful, gorgeous Castor is and is clearly attracted to him. A few passionate kisses and a make-out session in the second half of the book.
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Occasional strong language: "s--t," "f--k," "douche," "a--hole," "bitch," "damn," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink in a party scene. Adut gives wine as a gift to another adult.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lore is author Alexandra Bracken's best-selling urban fantasy, which has been described as a mature Percy Jackson meets The Hunger Games -- a story set in modern-day Manhattan but featuring Greek gods and the descendants of ancestral bloodlines who hunt them every seven years in a tournament-to-the-death called the Agon. The book follows protagonist Melora "Lore" Perseous, who thought she had left the bloody competition behind but is pulled back in when her childhood best friend and the Goddess Athena both ask for her help. Violence can be graphic and bloody, from decapitation to stabbing to torture of adults and children. Romance is mostly limited to fraught looks until it develops into passionate kissing and making out. Strong language is occasional and includes "f--k," "s--t," and insult language like "d-ck," "bitch," and the like. Lore is an impressive protagonist who's a role model of perseverance and courage.
Is It Any Good?
Author Alexandra Bracken's skill for blending world-building, adventure, and romance makes this book worth the hype of its release. Although it takes a moment to fully process all of the backstory to the Agon (for example, the precise reasons Zeus punishes the Olympians with the Agon is vague) and all of the Hunt's families and major players, readers will quickly feel immersed in Lore's story. She's quick-witted, a gifted warrior, and a keen tactician, but she's also impetuous. The comparisons to The Hunger Games are apt, as her fierce personality, loyalty, and protective nature are reminiscent of Katniss, making Castor the Peeta of the book -- generous, open-hearted, and utterly devoted to Lore. The twist here is that Castor, while boasting a gentle heart, is also gorgeous and godlike; he's almost too good to be true.
There are plenty of villains in the story, one looming far larger than the others. And with his cloak of godhood, he seems virtually indestructible. Some of the plot twists are surprising and downright heartbreaking, so it's best not to go searching for spoilers. One of the best parts of the story is the best friends: Lore's Miles who knows nothing about her past and the Agon until there's a goddess in his home, and then's fully ready to risk his life to help in any way he can. Then there's Castor's Van, who is serious, rule-following, and willing to do anything and everything to make sure Castor survives the Agon. Castor makes that a difficult task, since his first priority is to protect Lore. The only downside to the narrative is that Lore's friends are all men, with the exception of Athena, who's more of a frightening, all-powerful role model than a friend. Fans of slow-burning romances will appreciate how Bracken develops the central couple's tension. Although the story is resolved, readers may hope the author returns to the world one day, even if it's just a bonus novella.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.