BOOK REVIEW: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerThe Song of Achilles
By Madeline Miller
Completed May 6, 2012

Good news! You don’t have to be an Ancient Greek expert to read The Song of Achilles! For those of you who wondered, rest assured: Madeline Miller maneuvers her readers through  Ancient Greek lore like a skilled driver. Having advanced degrees in the Classics certainly does help, but her writing style is easy and digestible. I could even keep track of the names (a small miracle for me).

Now for the “meh” news: I wasn’t enamored with The Song of Achilles like I thought I would be. I was hoping for a five-star, knock-my-socks off read. (Note to self: Stop reading so many reviews before selecting a book). Why? Because many book-loving friends raved about The Song of Achilles. As a result, I set my expectations too high.

The Song of Achilles focuses on the relationship between Achilles and his lover/soul mate/best friend, Patroclus. Patroclus was exiled from his kingdom as a young boy and sent to live with King Peleus, who was Achilles’ father. Eventually, Achilles and Patroclus struck up a friendship, which, over time, turned into a deep romance. The entire story is told through Patroclus’ eyes, and through his perspective, we learn about Achilles the boy, the soldier and the man.

I applaud Miller for this ambitious endeavor: to tell the story of Achilles and the Trojan War through a fresh perspective. In my opinion, she accomplished it very well, especially for being a young writer. She made each character come alive – to the point where you love or hate them.

Where I think The Song of Achilles lacked for me was the pace. It dragged in parts. A lot of pages were spent on Achilles growing up, and some of it wasn’t that interesting. When we finally arrived at the Trojan War, I just wanted to press the fast-forward button. I realize Miller needed to build up some tension, but I think she lost me along the way. When the prophecy was fulfilled and the inevitable fates occurred, the story still continued! Stick a fork in me: I was done.

In the end, The Song of Achilles was a good book. I would recommend it to readers who love historical fiction, especially ancient history. If you’re against same-sex relationships, this is definitely a book to skip. Madeline Miller is a young writing talent, and I hope she continues to hone her craft. I expect we’ll see even more brilliant stories coming from this gifted writer. (  )

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Megan
    May 07, 2012 @ 06:59:31

    I’ve been a little skeptical of this one because the impossible names made studying ancient history a chore, but if Miller so skillfully weaves the story without getting me all lost in names I can’t pronounce, I might just have to give it a try!

    Great review!

    Reply

  2. Laura
    May 07, 2012 @ 08:05:06

    I’m sorry this didn’t live up to your high expectations Jill. I worry about that too, with really popular books like this one.

    Reply

  3. JoV
    May 07, 2012 @ 18:28:36

    I always try to avoid reading reviews of books I wanted to read. I skim over the reviews and come back and read them in details. Sorry that this didn’t work for you, I find it entertaining and beautiful. This book makes Greek Myth very accessible.

    Reply

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