Review: Ithaka by Adele Geras


in a sentence or two: faithful Penelope is waiting for Odysseus to come home after the trojan war (still waiting 16 years after...yeesh) and in the meantime, the palace is overrun by dirty, nasty, stinky, mean men who are determined to marry Penelope and become ruler of Ithaka.

i was really excited to see this title, especially after having read Troy and really liking it. i am personally intrigued by greek mythology and the stories about the trojan war, and having the ability to read them in young adult form is just perfecto for me.

Ithaka focuses mainly on Klymene and her interactions with the other characters - the main of whom are Penelope (Queen of Ithaka, Klyemene is her personal handmaid / honorary daughter), Ikarios (Klymene's twin brother), Telemachus (Son of Penelope and Oddyseus and first love of Klymene), Melantho (the newest handmaid to Penelope, and rather conniving and slutty actually), and then the suitors (the dozens of men living at the palace for like 6 months waiting for Penelope to choose one of them).

as with Troy, there is a casual incorporation of the gods from Olympus and they are only seen by some characters. this element helps keep the story flow to the nature of a greek myth nicely. the god's don't consistently intervene, which is nice, but when they do you get a glimpse of them and their intentions before they vanish.

the best way that i can think to describe Ithaka is that it's a multi-layer love story complete with betrayal, murder, sadness, and hope. i did feel like it got a little long, however, that may have been the attempt by the author to help portray the extreme waiting that Penelope did so faithfully (well, most of the time) for Odysseus and to help the reader realize just how long and unpleasant the icky suitors made time at the palace for everyone in the meantime.

i couldn't help feeling like some of the characters were more shallow than i'd hoped for. while i really dug Klymene as a caring, devoted, and genuine person, i was let down by Telemachus, completely forgot about Ikarios at times, and felt that while Melantho provided a solid element of bitchyness that was necessary for the twists in the story, that she was a pretty underdeveloped character herself. i felt like they had to be deeper than they were portrayed, and that really bugged me.

overall, i appreciated the take on the flip side of the Odyssey from the palace point of view, and particularly from Kylemene's perspective. similiar to Troy in that the main characters are part of the palace life, Geras paints a vivid picture of that life and the surrounding landscape of the island of Ithaka and at times i really did see what she was describing. the story doesn't end perfectly, which is refreshing, and there are some serious heartaches along the way. Geras deals with first loves, doubt, and hope in an interesting and serious way.

fave quotes: "'Sorrow', said Odysseus, 'has to be borne, or we might as well die on our way out of our mothers' wombs. Life is threaded through with it, but you must face it and grieve and carry on if you're to be a real man. It's easier to do that when you've got your family around you. When you're in your own house. Home...that's the best that we can hope for this side of Hades, and it's worth fighting and even dying for. Ithaka is worth every bit of agony I've gone through to get here.'" (299)

"The only answer was a shrug, and Klymene sighed. She was used to the way men sometimes behaved, but it was exhausting. The wouldn't ever admit, straight out, what was wrong, but waited for the thing - whatever it was that was bothering them - to be drawn out slowly like a thorn from an animal's paw. You had to ask questions. They had to be the right questions. You had to guess and cajole and tease the pain out of them, and it could be a tedious business." (319) - a good example of Klymene's character also.

fix er up: i really wanted deeper character development from others besides Klymene!

title: Ithaka
author: Adele Geras
genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. i think this would infuriate me. especially since i've just finished (or rather, can't get my copy of the book back yet to finish) the odyssey.

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