25th August 2021
Book Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Picture this: you’re sitting on your couch scrolling aimlessly through the internet and lamenting the fact that we are in lockdown yet again. As your thumb begins to ache you come across the most miraculous thing you’ve seen all week – a new book. But not just any new book, one which claims to combine everything you loved about Percy Jackson with The Hunger Games, where the tributes are not children, but the Greek god themselves made mortal for one single week. This was what you had been waiting your whole life for…
I exaggerate of course, but after reading the synopsis for Lore I was certainly intrigued. I am a HUGE fan of Greek mythology so from the outset I was completely sold on the concept. I’m also a fan of Alexandra Bracken’s other works, so I was excited to start reading. I will admit, the start of the novel is a bit slow but trust me, persevere through the first few chapters and you will be in for a wild ride. I ended up loving this book whole-heartedly and am still incredibly disappointed that it’s a stand-alone.
So without further ado, let’s dive into this review!
I want to start by mentioning the urban fantasy setting because I am a huge fan. Bracken could have made this a story that was true to the myths and took place in ancient times, but if that were the case I probably wouldn’t have fallen in love. Instead Lore takes place amongst the towering skyscrapers of modern-day New York City. Somehow Bracken manages to interweave these two worlds seamlessly, with advanced technology like drones, facial recognition and GPS tracking all being used during this ancient hunt. It was exciting to see the gods move through this contemporary world and makes you realise just how marvelous Bracken is at worldbuilding – arguably the book’s greatest strength.
But depending on what kinds of novels you typically read, the level of worldbuilding has the potential to be a tad overwhelming. If you aren’t familiar with the mythology the book is still accessible, no prior knowledge needed. However, you may find it more difficult than others to keep up with the story. There are a fair few players to keep track of in this game, different families to remember, and alliances to recall. Thankfully, there is a helpful cast at the back of the book which outlines all the gods (and their abilities) alongside each house and who the relevant descendants are. Whilst it can be a bit tedious to flick back and forth, if you are accustomed to and looking for a story with detail-oriented world building you will quickly find yourself immersed in a fantastic blend of mortal and immortal, modern and archaic.
Now I know I said that the start of the book was a bit slow, but you’ll be glad to hear that it picks up and becomes very fast-paced as the story progresses – after all, there is a considerable amount of plot and character development to cover in just one week. But it isn’t just the high-intensity epic mood that keeps you going, it’s the twisty bits. As a YA connoisseur, I feel like I can confidently say I’ve seen every trope there is, to the point where no plot twist can get past me. Bracken however has me beat. She sprinkles hints throughout the story, unanswered questions that left me convincing myself I should read just one more chapter. My curiosity was piqued, I was intrigued, and this story certainly kept me on my toes.
In terms of characters, all you really need to know is that Miles exists and must be protected at all costs! Miles is Lore’s gay best friend and roommate who begins knowing absolutely nothing about the Agon and who Lore was in her childhood. However, despite being the only “normal” character, he gets stuck right in to help in any way he can despite the risk to his own life.
There is one relationship in the story that has caused a fair amount of conflict amongst readers. Most people love a good romance, but apparently not everyone is a fan of slow-burning ones – if you are, then you’ll likely enjoy the tension in how Bracken develops the couple’s story (that is, if you enjoy screaming into the pages of a book wondering when these people are going to kiss already!).
There are so many fantastic themes in this story, I could spend all day detailing them here for you. Instead I’ll hand-pick my all time favourite, which also happens to broadly be a special interest of mine – the Fates. In Greek mythology there is this idea that the Fates control your life, weaving the threads that make up your existence and resulting in your actions being fated. Obviously this clashes head on with the idea of free-will which is exactly the crux of what Lore has to explore in her story. What is her fate? Who decides it? And can she change it?
Of course some of you readers may not care for the themes of the stories you read at all – but I’m sure that you’ll be able to appreciate the elegance and grace of Bracken’s writing. The critics complain that it’s frivolous and cringey but I think her style is beautiful and poetic, with many of the phrases holding deep meaning that reflects the complexities of the characters’ decisions as well as our own.
Now if you know Greek mythology, then you are probably aware of just how violent and savage the ancient gods could be. Unfortunately, most people have a Disney edition understanding of their personalities and suffice to say, Zeus was hardly the jovial father figure we all love in Hercules. So it’s important to adjust your expectations before reading the book. There are a considerable number of darker elements in the story and Bracken provides us with all the gory details of every grudge match that ends in death. The book comes with a long list of content warnings including, graphic depictions of violence and discussion/mention of sexual assault – so take care of yourself.
So there you have it, if you’re looking for an adventure in 547 pages then why not give Lore a go – you can find it here in our catalogue.
Once you’ve finished reading, be sure to take a look at Alexandra Bracken’s website for an awesome quiz to sort you into which house/bloodline you would be a part of in the story (a lot like the HP sorting hat, but ten times cooler in my opinion).