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Zeus: King of the Gods: Olympians, Book 1
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zeus: King of the Gods is the first in a 12-book graphic-novel series that highlights one Greek god at a time. Zeus' rise to power was a violent power struggle with crashing mountains and gargantuan Titans trying to take out the Olympians. Who wouldn't want to oust the father that ate your other siblings whole? Zeus travels to Tartaros and fights some creepy mythical creatures too. Sexual content is heavy on the innuendo when Zeus flirts with Metis. Plus giant Titans aren't clothed (really, how could they be?); private areas are well obscured with shading, however. A generous appendix provides profiles of the gods, a discussion guide, extra storytelling behind specific panels, and a bibliography.
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What's the story?
ZEUS: KING OF THE GODS begins at the complete beginning, Kaos, and ends with Zeus taking up his thrown on Mt. Olympus. After Gaea, the earth mother, begat the Titans and had her husband, Ouranos, killed, Zeus' future father, Kronos, became lord of the universe. Since Kronos was too much like his father, Gaea cursed him, telling him that his own child would overthrow him. So he ate all his children -- he thought. But his mom, Rhea, managed to hide Zeus away on the island of Crete. There he developed his powers and his hatred of Kronos. With a little help from Gaea, Zeus was ready to overthrow his father and set his siblings free.
Is it any good?
This early, dark mythology of the gods will not be familiar to most readers, yet it's well told, and author George O'Connor's love of mythology shines through. Despite the fact that this Olympic story has to be the hardest one to tell visually -- he literally had to start with nothing, or "Kaos" (his chosen spelling). There's no making that panel interesting. But the art improves promptly. His Titans are dark masses of muscle towering over clouds and mountains. Glimpses of giant cyclops eyes and creatures with 100 hands are fantastically creepy.
The lightness of a baby-blue blanket is almost jarring when Zeus appears. His early life is a brief sunny moment in the story before mountains explode and thunderbolts rain down in the big, dramatic power struggle for dominance over the universe. However, the introduction of humans into the world seems glossed over and confusing. An extra few panels with Prometheus and his clay would have been welcome.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about one of the author's excellent questions in the appendix discussion guide. For starters, which superheroes are similar to characters in Greek mythology?
For those who've read about the gods in other formats, do you prefer this graphic-novel version or a more text-heavy treatment? What can graphic novels convey better than text alone? What can more text-based storytelling convey better than graphic novels?
For those who know more stories of Greek gods, how is Zeus' story unique? Why is he chosen as the king of the gods?
- Author: George O'Connor
- Genre: Folklore
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: First Second
- Publication date: January 5, 2010
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 14
- Number of pages: 80
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, iBooks, Kindle
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