Friday, December 11, 2015

Book Review: The Song of Achilles


YOU GUYS! This. Book. Is. PERFECTION! And it makes me cry because I put off this book from reading for two weeks and now I feel like I just did all the gods and goddesses a great disservice. But seriously, I only ever heard good things about this book and it’s sad because I never really gave it any second thoughts. I liked the movie, Troy, and Brad Pitt as Achilles is just too good and I remember enjoying Iliad and Aenid back in highschool, but as a reimagined fanfiction? Meh. UNTIL the recent Manila International Book Fair when I saw a copy of this particular version of the book (at 20% discount!) and I just fell in love with the cover. The other version is more expensive and looks plainer which is weird because this version looks more expensive but is actually half the price of the other one and it even has a gold cardboard page inside that reflects the backpage of the front cover so it looks like an eagle when you open it at a certain angle. It also doubles as a mirror so you can see how horrible and dorky your face looks like as your eyes bleed from both happiness and heartache.




The Song of Achilles
by Madeline Miller
Release date: September 20th 2011
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

The Song of Achilles is told from the perspective of Patroclus - Achilles’ most trusted companion. In the beginning, Patroclus was basically painted as a weakling. As a kid, he lacked the finesse and strength of other royals like him. His father never favoured him and even turned a blind eye on other royals that bullied him, so when Patroclus accidentally killed a bully, his father technically denounced him as his son and soon, he found himself as an orphan in another kingdom. And so here Achilles enters and the plot kicks off.

I’ve been reading reviews on Goodreads because that’s what happens to me when I can’t get enough of a book. I read every review and article there is. I may not have read all the reviews about this, but I noticed that majority of those who gave this a low rating complained about Patroclus’ gushiness when it comes to Achilles. They’re right. As a young boy, Patroclus gushed too much about Achilles. I, too, also questioned the authenticity of his impression of Achilles and then I realized that these people lived a different life at a different time and have different upbringing where boys are forced to become men at such a young age, so I decided to let it be and anyway, I actually, honest to goodness, enjoyed Patroclus’ every reaction to Achilles. Why? Because it mirrored my every reaction to Achilles too. Achilles. Is. Hot! I melt everytime Patroclus described his smiles and the way he moved in battles. Honestly, I don’t think Patroclus’ crush on Achilles was just because of how hot he is. Patroclus also admires AND envies Achilles’ strength as warrior because that’s something Patroclus will never be good at. But instead of being outright jealous of him, he chose to admire him instead. Good guy, that Patroclus.

The beginning started off really slow, thus my two weeks of break from this, but as soon as Achilles and Patroclus became brothers in arms, the reading got a lot faster. I just want to note that I already forgot all the essentials in the story of Iliad except Achilles and Hector and Paris and the Trojan Horse (which apparently happened in Aenid) and I knew what was going to happen to Achilles at the end of the story, but I didn’t know jack about Patroclus and Agammemnon and Thetis. It’s probably why I enjoyed this a lot more than others did. However, the thing that I really enjoyed exploring is… you guessed it, the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus which is also the focus of the book, according to the author herself.

Achilles and Patroclus are not only lovers but they are also the best of friends, brothers in arms and I love, love, love all their interactions. The trust and loyalty between them are solid. Of course, there are complications in their dynamic but I treasured every flaw in it because they are so good to each other they go out of their ways to fix their relationship. Them being the total opposite of each other also adds to their chemistry. Achilles wants fame he is very proud, and Patroclus is there to keep his feet on the ground but Patroclus also doesn’t stop Achilles from doing whatever he wants. Patroclus understands Achilles and Achilles understands him to a certain degree. Also, this quote:


Yes, I cried. I bawled my eyes out because this foreshadowing is just the most heartbreaking thing ever. Why can’t you just let these two be happy, Madeline Miller? And also that ending. That sweet, sweet, bittersweet ending left my heart confused - it's enraged and miserable, but also blissful all at the same time. I was already sobbing at last couple of chapters, but that very last paragraph? I don't think I've ever produced so much tears just because of a last paragraph.

This is book is gold figuratively and literally (see image above) and it has already taken a place in my favorites shelf! I’m sure I’ll be rereading this in a month or so. Also, I’ve just read Miller’s blog and she said that The Song of Achilles has been optioned by BBC for a mini-series. Bless you, Madeline and BBC. I pray to Thetis and Zeus that the mini-series would start filming soon!

Rating: 5/5 stars!

5 comments:

  1. After you said that this book was perfection, I have to admit I didn't continue with your review... I have this on my kindle, and I always prefer being surprised. I'm really happy you loved it, though!
    Have a fantastic Friday :)
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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  2. I loved this one too, Chel. I had to read The Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid in one of my undergraduate courses and I think I liked this one even more because I already knew the background of the story from Greek mythology.

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  3. Outstanding review! I have t his on my shelf to read and it has been all up and down my TBR list. I will have to make time for it.

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