Monday, December 7, 2009

Oh. My. Gods.

By Tera Lynn Childs

Ages 12-16

As if it weren’t bad enough that Phoebe’s usually sensible mother has decided to move to Greece to marry a man she’s only known for six days, she is dragging Phoebe along with her, forcing to leave her friends, her school, and her running coach behind. Phoebe is convinced her senior year will be miserable, and that the best she can do is stick it out until graduation and then head back to California for college. To make matters worse, Phoebe didn’t count on one very important detail: her new stepfather is a descendent of the gods. As in Greek gods. As in Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, Ares—those Greek gods. And he is the headmaster of a boarding school that was specifically created to educate those with godly blood. Now, not only is Phoebe the only new student, she is also the only student who is not related to a god, and that makes her mighty unpopular. Her new stepsister, Stella, hates her and on the day they meet she magically breaks Phoebe’s backpack and turns her dinner into slugs. How is a girl supposed to fit in a place where everyone can make things happen simply by pointing their finger? Not to mention the boy she is crushing on from her track team, Griffin, seems to absolutely despise her lack of magical blood. This school year will be much harder than Phoebe could have ever imagined.

Phoebe’s willingness to chase Griffin when he is so visibly derisive toward her is a little disturbing. Furthermore, her willingness to forgive him for his participation in a cruel bet that has her the brunt of a joke makes Phoebe more doormat than strong female character. Stella’s sudden turnaround is also a little fishy. It will be interesting to see in the sequel, Goddess Boot Camp, whether or not this is a real transformation.

This novel is a bit of a Harry Potter clone (a magical boarding school no one knows about, groups are determined by which god is your ancestor, and great prejudice against kakos or those without god blood), but fun nonetheless. Readers will figure out the “surprise” ending about forty pages in, but the book is still a decent choice for a mindless vacation read. Nothing terribly profound or meaningful in these pages, and the conflicts between the characters are resolved a little too easily, but the story is compelling enough to make it worthwhile.

Caveats: the main character chases after a boy who is quite cruel to her.

Possible discussion topics: relationships, Greek mythology

Some discussion questions to get you started:

    1. Griffin is really cruel to Phoebe. Why on earth does she chase him? Is this a good idea? What would you do in her place?

    2. Ancestors determine all of the cliques at the school on Serfopoula. If that were true, who would be your ancestor? (Aphrodite: love, lust, beauty; Artemis: hunting, wild things; Dionysus: parties/festivals; Hermes: flight, thieves, mischief,

    3. Troy is descended from Askilopus, the god of healing, but he doesn’t want to go into medicine, he wants to pursue his music. How much do you think genetics plays a role in who we become? How about destiny?

    4. Phoebe has to start her senior year at a new school, in a new country, and to top it all off everyone around her is descended from the gods. Talk about feeling like an outsider! When have you felt out of place? What did you do to solve that problem? Did you ever end up feeling like you fit in?

If you liked this you might like: Avalon High by Meg Cabot, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

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