I mentioned in a book haul not long ago that I was asked to be part of the blog tour for the next installment in George O'Connor's Olympians series, Ares, and that when I said yes (yay, mythology!), the fine folks at FirstSecond not only sent me that book, but the entire boxed set — further cementing that they are amazeballs. And yes, I still said amazeballs in 2015.
Now, the reason for this (beyond said amazeballs), I'd imagine, is that I expressed a little trepidation at jumping into the series at book 7. Though I know it's a retelling of Greek myths, I wasn't sure what kind of retelling it'd be; so though I'm very familiar with Greek mythology, that's not to say that I'd be familiar with O'Connor's spin. I mean, Kendare Blake's Antigoddess is fabulous, but it's hardly a traditional retelling; same: Percy Jackson; same: everything else out there. But I needn't have worried — there's no spin! I mean, that's not to say there's no interpretation, or picking and choosing which aspects of which tales to highlight, because of course there is. But the series is more like careful curation; it presents these timeless stories just as they've always been, but in the fantastic modern medium of the graphic novel. It's faithful, but playful. And this may be weird to say, but it's kinda ballsy. In a time when everyone's looking to bank on their own twist of the well-known, it's refreshing to see someone say, Nope, these stories have stood the test of time for millennia now, so I'd much rather give you an excellent presentation of them than a modern, watered-down version*.
*She says, fully loving the "modern, watered-down versions" too. I'll take 'em any way I can get 'em.
This means that you really can pick the series up at any volume. You can stock your classrooms & libraries with them, or give it to newly minted mythology buffs to fall in love with — and let me tell you, I would have adored these as a kid, when I was just getting into mythology and wanted everything I could get my hands on. And though I loved Hercules and Xena and Clash of the Titans as much as any other weirdo 12 year old obsessed with the Greeks, I was a very particular child, and would get a little grumbly about the things they *shudder* GOT WRONG. A faithful and yet lively adaptation such as these would have been an instant favorite. (And still is, now.)
|Art copyright |
George O'Connor / FirstSecond books
But beyond the faithfulness and clarity of the presentation, I would have fallen in love with (and have fallen in love with) the artistic and narrative choices O'Connor makes. I had a feeling from almost the first moment of Zeus that I was going to love these (and I say first moment, but actually I think it was literally the first, nearly-blank page, that gave me the love-this feeling); little touches like this recurring thematic thread (right) of having 'too much of his father in him' cemented it. Which means by page 10, I was in love. This example might seem a little silly or meaningless to some of you, but it struck me for a few reasons: 1) it's a solid storytelling & artistic choice, to have the "father" (the stars) physically represented as being a part of Kronos and Zeus, 2) it's a striking image, and 3) it so perfectly and simply encapsulates the core of these myths, and how its actors are doomed to repeat the mistakes that came before them. So many Greek myths are about inescapable-ness and self-fulfilling prophecies, and to succinctly and strikingly capture that aspect so simply basically immediately won me over.
But whether those little details are likely to win you over or not, the fact remains that this is a very strong adaptation of Greek mythology, both in the art and the storytelling, and I highly recommend them.
If you've read any of the Olympians series, let me know your thoughts in the comments! Or, if you haven't but are a fan of mythology, please share your favorite god/dess or myth! Personally, I've always gone back and forth between a number of the gods, but for now, let's just say I'm hoping George makes his way around to a book devoted to Artemis. ^_^
You can find out more about the series (and the gods!) here, and take a peek inside the books, and you can catch the rest of the Ares tour here!