The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wanted to give it four stars, so I struggled back and forth. The plot is fantastic, and her prose is neat, tight, and clear. In fact, I loved how she set up chapter 12; I was blown away, so I will be doing a literary analysis, for fun, on that scene. However, the problems tip the scales, so I cannot, in good conscience, give Miller’s book more than three stars.
Many, if not most, of her support characters have little agency. Chiron, for example, seems to only exist to teach young Achilles and Patroclus. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I will not dig up more than is needed to make my point, and just leave it here. But note this: most support characters in this book lack their own agency.
However, I loved the story; I am a huge history nerd, and I love her ability to retell classic literature through the modern medium of prose. She is brilliant, and the book is wonderful—for a pleasure read. What screwed it for me was my recent learning of close-reading. I am a creative writing student. Oh, how the gods punish us!
Again, I wanted to give it four stars, but the three I went with is a high 3.8. I do recommend this book.
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