Author: Kendare Blake
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen
Old Gods never die… or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health. Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra, an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. These days, Cassandra doesn't involve herself in the business of gods. In fact, she doesn't even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don't just flicker out. Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath. The Goddess War is about to begin.
Antigoddess is unique and dangerous, a Greek mythology re-imagining with high stakes and even higher levels of tension. This book stands out in a slightly overwhelmed market, introducing different characters and gods almost lost and long forgotten. The gods and goddesses are dying in their own unique way, and they must find a way to stop it, hunting down human allies in order to aid their quest. The consequences if they fail are already on them, slowly eating away at them, and this makes them move even faster.
Athena and Hermes are dying even before the book starts, battered, broken, wasting away or filling with feathers. They're losing power, but they're stubborn, nowhere near willing to give up, and so they continue their near impossible search across dangerous lands for someone who will help them in their battle for survival. What a curious thing, immortal gods searching for a way to keep from dying. One would think that, being immortal, they couldn't die, but something is different. Perhaps this was fated to happen. Perhaps their time was meant to end. But it won't, not if Athena has something to say about it. She will fight until the end.
On the other side of the coin, the unknowing side, is Cassandra. She is a normal 21st century teenage girl, completely unaware of the gods searching for her and the assistance she can provide. But she knows something will happen, she knows something is coming. She can see the future. But will she take sides in a war she doesn't know is heading straight for her?
Something, or someone, has decided it's time for the gods and goddesses to die, but what or who made such a decision? And what will come when the last has fallen? Will something new rise up, or will it be something more horrific then benevolent? This is such an intriguing re-imagining, it's not just a retellling of a myth or a figure in particular, it combines multiple stories, bringing so many different, and at times rather abrasive, voices together. The idea of gods dying makes them fallible, makes them flawed, makes them almost fragile. There are real consequences at work, they could die real deaths, and to a group thought to live forever through hundreds of millennia, it's frightening.
What is an antigoddess? One idea I have is that it's the opposite of a goddess, not immortal, not all-powerful or all-knowing. Human. Another idea stems from how the gods were once acknowledged by the Greeks, how they were revered, how they were remembered and honoured each and every day. The opposite here could be a god no longer remembered, not longer honoured with gifts or sacrifice. In these modern times, who prays to the Greek gods? The world is vast, filled with so many different cultures, religions, and faiths. Perhaps their time is coming to an end.
This book is filled with the author's clever use of humour, horror, description, and unique characters with unique personalities. The story itself is sharp, quick, action-packed, and headed straight for a battle of epic proportions. Blake doesn't pull punches, she doesn't sugar-coat. Every single character will have to fight, fight to the point of death and perhaps beyond, for the chance to survive.
(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Macmillan through NetGalley.)