Sometimes the best books do not need to be love at first sight—it definitely wasn’t with this one! When I turned to page one of Lore by Alexandra Bracken, I was immediately blown away, but not in the best sense of the term. The immediate, heated setting of a boxing ring, combined with a plethora of Greek terms, was enough to thoroughly overwhelm me. That time, I had closed the book, taken a few deep breaths, and left it to collect dust on my bookshelf. By reading in bits and pieces, though, I eventually became enthralled by the convoluted world Bracken had woven through the pages.
Lore is a standalone contemporary fantasy that follows the adventures of a young girl named Lore, the last mortal descendant of the House of Perseus. She is haunted by the Agon: an event that takes place every seven years, which forces nine gods to roam the Earth as mortals while being hunted by mortals. Once a mortal kills a god, that mortal gains the god's power and strength, and because of human greed, the cycle can never end. Lore, however, has escaped the deathly Agon. That is, until an old friend and a goddess come seeking aid, and she must choose whether or not to insert herself back into the situation that killed her parents and two sisters.
I genuinely enjoyed this book, what with its multifaceted characters and impeccable world-building. Lore serves as the perfect protagonist for this particular story—her anger is her fatal flaw, and that comes up multiple times in the book. I also liked how the novel emphasized the power imbalance between genders. Where males were seen as the only ones fit to become gods and be in any sort of leadership position, women could only sit still, look pretty, and consider themselves lucky if they were not sacrificed for one reason or another. Lore speaks heatedly about this subject throughout the book, and the conversations she had were very realistic and mature, which I appreciated.
At times, the Greek terms and different ancient houses became too much to process—I couldn't keep track of who was who and what specific Greek words meant. Having to flip to the glossary every time an unfamiliar word popped up was frustrating and deterring. Having studied Greek mythology extensively in my free time, I was able to fare generally well and understand the many references to Greek mythology. However, I would definitely tell those who don't know much about Greek mythology to beware—it may be overwhelming and confusing. I'd recommend reading something fun and informational, like Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, to get you warmed up if you don't know much about all things Greek.
Also, there were so many components of this world that I would have loved for this book to have a sequel, just so we could tie up some of the loose ends. Besides, I am not a fan of open endings in general. This one, however, did fit with the story and still offered that satisfying, tingling feeling you get when you finish a good book. So, surprisingly, it did not disappoint!
Overall, an enjoyable and deep read fit for older readers! Those who have followed Alexandra Bracken’s work since The Darkest Minds, and especially those who have not, will find an irresistible story of gods, monsters, and simmering betrayal within these pages. If I could go back in time, I would thank my struggling self for deciding to power through the novel. It was truly worth it.
Lore by Alexandra Bracken. Disney-Hyperion, 2021. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!