5 star, YA

Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds comes a sweepingly ambitious, high-octane tale of power, destiny, love and redemption.

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.



“You may be done with the Agon, but I don’t think it’s done with you.”

Lore is one of my favourite reads so far this year, a beautifully written story mixing the best parts of The Hunger Games and Percy Jackson.

Nine Greek gods fight to survive every seven years on earth, an event known as the Agon, losing their immortality so that new victors can be crowned with that god’s powers if they succeed in killing them. This was such an interesting premise, but by far the best part came from how Bracken integrated all the pieces together.

I have so many thoughts swirling in my head even after taking some time since I finished to put together this review. I will try to break it down into a few parts.

Plot pacing and elements

While the setting is in New York, the world building element really takes shape in the form of the gods’ history and how the Agon came to be. It was admittedly a little confusing at first trying to understand which original gods were still alive and which had died with humans replacing the gods. There were also the different bloodlines of humans that knew of this history, descended from Ancient Greek heroes, and were given the lifetime chance to train and kill a god and bring honour to their family.

Once you get past the initial information piecing – for which the appendix and description of houses were very helpful too – the story picks right up at the very beginning. The Agon is on, and our protagonist Lore finds an old friend reaching out to her from this life she has left behind. Plus, a bleeding god lying at her front doorstep.

The pace from there really never lags too much. There’s intrigue, such as what the new god of war wants with her. A mystery, like what happened to her childhood friend Castor whom she believed was dead since the last Agon. A building anticipation also stirs without the background from the early pages, asking us what ever happened to Lore and her family’s demise that she would have been able to walk away from all that she ever knew on her own.

This book is a relatively longer one, but it was the perfect length to cover the past, the relationships new and old, and unveiling of twists I did not see coming. When a book makes you wonder who is friend or foe constantly, the adrenaline courses through you like you’re present in the Agon running for your life.

Characterization

I think a lot of good books contain what I mentioned above for plot elements. What makes this stand out as a great book is the way Bracken made me know and empathize with her characters. And not just the protagonist whose POV we follow, but also some of the more prominent secondary characters too.

Lore was a great protagonist, a fighter and loyal to those she cares about. I like that her unique “superpower” was simply bcause she was the last of the line of Perseus. It wasn’t because she was anything super special except for the near extinction of her bloodline due to feuds over the years with other groups. There was so much character growth in her as she struggled to make sense of the loss of her family during the previous Agon and her purpose in life with no one to call family except those she chooses to bring near. I really enjoyed seeing everything through her eyes which is always the best when we as readers are stuck with someone.

Lore’s relationship with Castor was something I liked. Not overtly romantic like other fantasies can be – they are also in the middle of a 7-day war – but it built on their childhood friendship that maybe was always something a little more. The action definitely took greater precedence but that didn’t mean the feelings weren’t present enough that readers can’t become invested. Imagine seeing your best friend whom you thought was dead come back to you, and you’re haunting the same spots you used to go together like no time has passed.

In that moment, the past became the present, and the present the past, and it was just the two of them in the shadows of their city, the way it had always been.

The way it should have been forever.

Doesn’t that pull a little heartstring or two?

As a child who was always looked down as weak due to illness, Castor’s character also grew as he worked through his own doubts to protect Lore and his friends. Where so much of this story focuses on strength being everything, notably physical strength, it’s in Castor or Lore that showed strength comes in more forms than one.

Lore’s roommate and best friend Miles I have to mention for a moment. I love that he’s Korean, and maybe the little bit of comic relief at times. Dragged into the Agon with no prior understanding of any of this, it was amazing to see how one can go to great lengths if challenged hard enough.

And I will also admit that Lore’s connection with the elderly man she lived with between Agons pulled at more than one heartstring. It shows just how good the characters are if even a person who was dead prior to the beginning of the story and existed solely in flashback memories could bring empathy and perhaps a tear or two.

What more do you need to know?

Honestly, this was a wild ride and I couldn’t put it down. The span of the book is literally the 7 day Agon period but sometimes it felt like a lifetime passed from one event to another. I laughed, I hurt, I cried and I rejoiced with Lore and her group as they fought to survive and perhaps change the Agon once and for all. I can’t recommend this enough. Read it, it’s definitely a journey.

(P.S. from Fives: hundred percent agreed on this 5 star recommendation, please check it out!)

Overall Recommendation

Lore takes on Greek mythology tales with a spin as humans hunt down Greek gods, Hunger Games style, to achieve godhood. Action packed and full of familiar stories for those who love mythology, we follow Lore as she is dragged back into this world she had fought hard to leave behind. Mystery abounds as pieces of her history are put together, colliding with her present day troubles as one of the gods tries to hunt her down. Throw in some unlikely allies she never thought she’d see, the next 7 days while the gods are mortal are gonna be a long one. But trust me, these 7 days were more than enough to make me laugh and cry with Lore and the gang. Now go find out for yourself!

8 thoughts on “Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken”

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