Title: Goddess Girls Books #1-4
Author: Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
Check this set out on Goodreads.
Get to know the Goddess Girls in this four-book box set that comes with a stylish charm bracelet.The Goddess Girls at Mount Olympus Academy—Athena, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Artemis—give ancient Greek myths present-day personality! This deluxe box set includes the first four volumes of the popular series, along with a coordinating charm bracelet, and is ideal for new and old fans alike. (Source: Goodreads)
The Goddess Girls series follows the Goddess of Greek mythology as they head to school at Mount Olympus Academy. Together they learn life lessons and Goddess lessons at school and in their off time. The series features some of the most popular mythological figures like Athena, Aphrodite, Poseidon, and Zeus.
I bought this boxset of the Goddess Girls books which contains books 1 through 4. I didn’t really want to dedicate 4 separate reviews to this series because a lot of what I have to say is going to overlap in these reviews, so I figured I’d review them all in one post. I’ve included individual purchase/info links and reviews for the books as well as a general one for all of them. The links are at the start of each minireview.
I think the idea behind these books is adorable and fun. I love mythology and I love seeing adaptations of mythology for young people. Myth-O-Mania was one of my favourite book series as a kid. This series was something of a flop to me, it lacked the kind of humor and messages that I like to see in these adaptations. I felt like it set a bad example to young girls, the target audience of the series, and focused too much on beauty and boyfriends. There were some great messages in the books about being your own person and being brave, but they took the side lines compared to plots about being beautiful and getting a boyfriend. There’s definitely some redeeming qualities. They make a lot of cute references to the source text. They also have genuinely adorable stories for the most part, they just take weird directions a lot of the time.
These books do a few things that I don’t like. One is that they reinforce gender norms. The girls do not participate in sports, instead they are cheerleaders for the boys. This is just so wrong to me, that I was pretty irritated. The guys are also often surprised by the girls beating them in stuff, in that age old “boys are smarter and stronger than girls” way. This was irritating. The plus side of this is that the girls are pretty awesome and strong characters, just the terms in which the authors talk about them there’s something off. There’s a lot of focus on dating and girls pairing up with guys, which is super unnecessary. I’ll admit there is a lot of sex and marriage in Greek mythology but it’s not necessary in an adaptation for kids. There is also a lot of melodrama in these books which makes them a little irritating. I also don’t like the covers on these books. I think the art’s cute but I feel like the characters are sexy-ed up a bit too much for 12 year olds.
Some general notes about this box set. This set includes the first four books, though by now there are 16 books total. This set also includes a charm bracelet:
Here are the individual reviews of each book in the set:
Title: Athena the Brain (Goddess Girls #1)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Athena has always been above average. She has never quite fit in at Triton Junior High, but who would’ve guessed that Athena is actually a goddess? Principal Zeus’s daughter, to be exact.
When she’s summoned to Mount Olympus Academy, Athena thinks she might actually fit in for the first time in her life. But in some ways, school on Mount Olympus is not that different from down on Earth, and Athena is going to have to deal with the baddest mean girl in history: Medusa! (Source: Goodreads)
I enjoyed this introductory book in the series, though I think it started off on something of a sour note for me. I liked the idea of the series, though had a couple issues with the execution of some of the things. I always like adaptations of Greek mythology to a certain extent, and this twist on the classics with the action centered in the Mount Olympus Academy. I had a few problems with it because there was some weird modern mixed with classic that kind of stuck out weirdly to me – like the fact that Athena used suitcases, like the wheeled kind. This particular book follows Athena as she heads to MOA for the first time and settles into her schooling. The focus is the group doing their hero quest projects – which leads to the Trojan War. I liked this little hint at the Trojan War which was kind of cute.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the characterization, it was okay but there were some issues. Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and War, is kind of a ditz. She’s not wise, and instead is more in line with how Aphrodite is often portrayed, kind of foolish and flirty. I didn’t really enjoy this only because Athena doesn’t really…feel that way to me. Aphrodite and the rest of the girls kind of fit my idea but by this point I didn’t really know much about them. There are some male gods featured in this story as well. I think this was cool, but done in a weird way. Zeus is the principal of the school, but his siblings are all students, which just…confused me.
Overall the story was cute, though executed strangely, and the characters were a little off to me as the characterization didn’t fit.
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Persephone develops a crush on bad-boy Hades. Her mom (Ceres) and friends don’t approve, and Persephone finds herself sneaking around to see him. Hades convinces her to tell the truth, and it’s revealed that he isn’t all that bad, just misunderstood! (Source: Goodreads)
I enjoyed this book a smidgen more than the previous book. I had adjusted to some of the issues I’d had with the plotting a little more at this point and found them less weird, but there were still some things that left me kind of grimacing. This book follows Persephone as she tries to find her own place in the academy, a place that isn’t dictated by her mother or her friends. She meets Hades who is pretty unpopular and they form something of an unlikely friendship. Persephone finds Hades’s world fascinating because she is the bringer of life and he brings death. This pairing is my absolute favourite of all time, and I really liked how Holub and Williams handled the pair this time. There were some great nods to the original story with mentions of pomegranate and abductions. I also liked the mother-daughter relationship in this, Demeter is often one of the more overbearing mothers (at least in my mind) so I was glad to see that she used to show the ways in which sometimes parents are right, but sometimes they need to give you room. Obviously these stories are intended to teach lessons and this one was more about finding yourself and being true to who you are, which is a really common message. The things that made me uncomfortable were first and foremost the weird retelling of some points of the story. Demeter has a crush on Zeus, this was just kind of weird to me. Other things though were the somewhat unaddressed gossip issue at their school, bullying, and the way in which Aphrodite’s friends just get away with treating her terribly. This stuff was not handled well.
I found the characterization a little more on point this time than the previous book. I liked how Persephone developed into a stronger character by the end of the book, but I still found her to be something of a pushover. Athena was definitely better written in this book as she was wiser, more interested in her studies, and a lot closer to how I would envision her from the myths. Hades was my favourite character in this. He pretty much always is. He had that kind of mysterious, bad boy allure at first sight, but then you find out more about him and he’s really just trying to be responsible for his realm and people hugely misunderstand him. This was a lot better written in this book.
I think the story this time was a lot better, but still had some weird elements. The message was a lot more heavy handed which was kind of weird, but the characterization was a lot better.
Title: Aphrodite the Beauty (Goddess Girls #3)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Aphrodite, goddessgirl of love, must deal with jealousy after giving Athena a makeover. It doesn’t seem fair that the godboys pay more attention to her friend when Aphrodite is supposed to be destined for love! She also copes with a crush from an unlikely source—the nerdy Hephaestus (god of the smith)—and learns that love comes in many forms. (Source: Goodreads)
I was not a fan of this book at all. The focus of this book is Aphrodite, which means there’s quite a bit of focus on love and beauty. It’s not as though that’s terrible, it was of course expected, but I think it was done in the wrong way. Throughout this book it becomes clear that the characters value beauty in women over anything else, which means that Athena and Artemis especially are treated as less than others because they are more interested in non-beauty/love related topics. This is infuriating especially as Athena was a skilled warrior in the myths and this was one of her most celebrated qualities. I also felt the focus on dating and beauty was little weird considering the age of the characters. Aphrodite is 12 years old and wears a full face of makeup to school and waxes her leg – things I would never have done as a 12 year old. This kind of focus on beauty is really a negative focus to take with young girls, who need to understand that other things about them are more important than just their looks.
The characterization was okay in this one. I didn’t find anything too off about it, but I just felt like there was a lot more that could have been done with the characters. Aphrodite still loves Ares despite him being a terrible person and while I think she in no way owes Hephaestus for his attention I think this was a great place to twist the myths and make Aphrodite into someone who isn’t as shallow as she remained to be in this book. I also felt that the characters, time and again, do things that should really be discouraged to other people and its treated as normal. In the first book they turned Medusa into stone and did nothing about it and in this book they resort to bullying and spreading rumors to fix their problems. That’s just a bad message to send.
I didn’t find anything about this book sweet or cute as I had with the others. I think overall it sent a really bad message that beauty and love are more important than other qualities, even if they made some action to fix this it came across too strongly throughout.
Title: Artemis the Brave (Goddess Girls #4)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Artemis, goddess of the hunt, is always perceived as the bravest goddessgirl at Mount Olympus Academy. What her classmates and best friends don’t realize is that sometimes she isn’t as courageous as she looks. And when Orion—a foreign exchange student from Earth—enters the picture, she is even more nervous than usual! Can Artemis prove to her friends, and herself, that she can live up to her goddess name? (Source: Goodreads)
This book was not so great, once again. There was definitely a lot of redeeming moments in the book, but largely it was not good. This book is supposed to be about Artemis learning to be brave, and in some ways it was. There’s a lot of action with Artemis fighting beasts and learning to protect herself and her friends. This portion of the book was excellent, it taught a really great lesson. Being brave is about doing things even when you’re afraid. The trouble is that the majority of the book focussed on Artemis trying to get a boyfriend, the guy she likes is narcissistic Orion. It was such a shame that once against Holub and Williams ignored a great opportunity with the plot and focused on such a shallow and lame plot. Artemis is famously a virginal goddess, and throughout the series to this point she has been focused on her friendships and interests in archery and sports. This was completely ignored in this book, and it was outrageous to me.
The characterization in this book was and again, just bad. Artemis was so off from previous books and from the myths I couldn’t believe it. She has no interest in archery, and is instead obsessed with getting a boyfriend. This is not the kind of person I’d want any young girl looking up to. Normally though Artemis is a great example of a strong female lead. Not so much here where she has no agency, has shallow to no interests, and completely abandons her friends and brother to follow around Orion. This was just…lame.
Overall this was a confusing book to me. There was some great stuff about bravery and strength in girls, but it was mostly ignored in favour of a boyfriend plot. Not great.
Overall this is not my favourite book series for middle grade or kids. I think there were a lot of mistakes made in this series in regards to the kind of messages being sent to the target audience. I would say it’s not the worst thing for young girls either though, as most of this stuff would go largely ignored by the girls reading it. I have a different viewpoint from my age and my natural desire to analyze the books. I would probably still give these to my young cousin but I would certain balance this out with something that gives a much stronger view of women and young girls to create a better message for her. I don’t think I would read any more of this series though.
Have you read the Goddess Girls series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Check out Joan Holub at her website, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Check out Suzanne Williams at her website.
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