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Quicksilver

(i)

 

Clever novelization of the various Hermes myths.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The gods are petty, vain, and jealous.

Violence

Perseus cutting off Medusa's head is a bit gruesome, then he uses it to kill enemies. Trojan war fighting, Tantalus kills and cooks his son, Prometheus has his liver pecked out. None of this is described.

Sex

Gods seduce mortals, goddesses take off their clothes for the judgment of Paris, Andromeda is chained naked to a cliff.

Language

Hell is used appropriately.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drunken parties among gods and mortals.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is based on Greek myths, which were violent and sometimes sexual. Though the author doesn't shy away from these aspects, she doesn't wallow in them either -- she mentions them and moves on.

What's the story?

Hermes, messenger god and son of Zeus, tells of his involvement in some of the major Greek myths and stories. In between running Zeus's errands and conveying souls to the underworld, he helps Perseus defeat Medusa, negotiates between Demeter and Hades for the return of Persephone, arranges the Judgment of Paris, copes with the flood of dead souls from the Trojan War, and frees Odysseus from the nymph Calypso, only to fall for her himself.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Though the tales are ancient, Spinner invents a modern, ironic, somewhat snarky voice for Hermes that fits his mythological character and adds to the enjoyment of his story. On Zeus: "Joking with my father when he's testy is like challenging the Gorgons to a staring contest. Bad idea." On Hades: "a walking bad mood." The Furies: "as gleeful as undetected felons at a public execution."

Parents and teachers will be glad that, unlike so many attempts to modernize and add humor to Greek myths, this one hews very closely to the original stories. Even the humor grows organically out of the tales and existing characters of the gods, not through anachronism or adding a street-slangy patina. The updating comes in the telling, not by altering the myths, making it useful for classes studying ancient Greece.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Hermes' aversion to war, which the other gods enjoy, and his desire for his father Zeus's approval. How could you find out more about these myths if you wanted to?

Book details

Author:Stephanie Spinner
Genre:Folklore
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date:July 23, 2005
Number of pages:229

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Teen, 15 years old Written byVoracious Reader March 9, 2009

Hermes Rocks!

This book was wonderful! But you kinda have to know something about Greek mythos beforehand.
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written bypeony April 9, 2008

Snappy re-telling of Hermes myths, really enjoyable for Greek myth fans

Some violence and gruesome bits are pretty much unavoidable with the Greek myths -- but they're not wallowed in or dwelt on in this version. Indeed, Hermes vows never to kill again, and there's an overall anti-war message. Similarly, the scene with goddesses undressing for Paris to judge their beauty was handled with some restraint. I felt that Hermes keeping secret from Calypso that he had erased her memory of Oddyseus was questionable and needed discussion with a kid. It's quite funny. Charming -- a treat for those with an interest in Greek myths. Recommended for 8+ (or a little older for those without prior exposure to the Greek myths).
Kid, 9 years old April 25, 2010
hate it
What other families should know
Too much sex

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