Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters

Farrar. Oct. 2019. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374310622.
Gr 10 Up–An inventive re-imagining of the myth of the Minotaur for a mature YA audience. Ariadne hates the spotlight. She’s the one scowling in the background on her sisters’ reality show, The Cretan Paradoxes, and mortified when she accidentally discovers much-gossiped-about film footage of her mother’s bestial affair with a bull. Worst of all is her father’s reality-TV franchise, The Labyrinth Contest, which sends 14 young Athenians to their televised deaths fighting the Minotaur each year. Ariadne serves as the Keeper of the Maze, an elusive masked figure who conceals her family’s biggest secret—the Minotaur is no simple monster, but her half-human, half-bull brother, who suffers uncontrollable rages and profound isolation. She has never questioned her commitment to protecting him until Theseus, the prince of Athens, shows up as a contestant in this year’s contest, determined to save his subjects from death in the maze. Ariadne and Theseus develop a romantic connection that feels fated, but what he asks her for is impossible—help navigating the maze, which Ariadne can only give at the cost of her brother’s life. A creative and fast-paced retelling of the Minotaur myth that is both loyal to the original story and rife with thoughtful commentary on the modern phenomena of social media, celebrity culture, and surveillance. At times the juxtaposition of ancient and modern elements can feel slightly jarring, but the concept is endlessly intriguing and its execution is dark, salacious fun.
VERDICT A novel mix of The Hunger Games, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and Greek mythology that will draw in former Percy Jackson fans looking for a more grown-up read.

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