Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (The Olympians)

Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (Olympians) by George O'Connor

When I was growing up, we studied ancient civilizations for our 6th grade social studies class. Well, my 5th grade year, I was in a 5/6 combination class, so I got a “sneak peek” at a lot of the things the 6th graders learned. And I was entranced by their social studies lessons. But most of all, when they got to Ancient Greece, I fell in love with Greek myths. And that’s a love I've continued to this day. 

So when I first heard about George O'Connor Olympians graphic novel series a few years ago, I was really excited. Two of my favorite things, myths and graphic novels, it couldn't possibly go wrong. I've had the pleasure of reading two of previous books in the series, Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess and Hades: Lord of the Dead and enjoyed them both. O'Connor has a way of including both well-known and obscure points of the myths he chooses to highlight for his books, and is excellent at exploring the personalities behind each Greek god or goddess.

So when I saw that the newest version of the series was about Aphrodite, I knew I had to read it. Aphrodite has long been my favorite goddess, but other than the story about what led to the Trojan war, and the famous “born on sea foam” creation story, you don’t seem to hear much about her. I had high expectations for this book, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

There were three things I really enjoyed about this book. First of all, with a graphic novel, the artwork plays such an important part in the characterization and story line. I was surprised that O'Connor chose to make Aphrodite an exotic beauty with long darker hair, instead of the blond haired/blue eyed character you usually see in illustrations. It’s different, but really effective. It sets Aphrodite off as being different from the other Olympians, which really plays well into her creation story line.

Secondly, I really have to admire the way that O'Connor chooses the stories that he includes in his books. They are well researched, and as I mentioned before, he includes several less well known stories in his plot. And although each vignette is technically its own story, he weaves them together in a way that feels like a fluid continuous plot. He also fleshes out the reasons behind the characters’ actions, giving the gods and goddesses an element of humanity. In that regard, I especially liked the conversation Aphrodite has about her motivations for participating in the To the Fairest competition between her, Athena, and Hera that will lead up to the Trojan War.

The third thing I really like about this series is something that makes this book perfect for all ages. O'Connor includes extensive notes, broken down page by page, at the back of the book. This is great for those who aren't as familiar with Greek myths, since the notes shed lights on other myths that influence the stories in the book, as well as explaining some subtle nuances that aren't always obvious in a graphic novel format.

I have to say that Aphrodite: Goddess of Love has definitely been my favorite volume of the Olympians series that I've read so far, and I definitely look forward to reading more books in this series in the future.

Shady Glade Rating: 8/10

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