Goodreads | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble
YA, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction, 345 pages, Katherine Tegen Books
- Series: first in the Medusa Girls series
- Pub date: September 6th 2011
- Disclosure: Received an ARC from the Red Balloon Bookstore. Thanks!
Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.The Long...
Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.
Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.
These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.
Sometimes it's not that a book was bad. Sometimes it's not that a book wasn't original, or that I didn't click with the characters, or that the writing wasn't quite stellar enough. Sometimes it's not any of those things: sometimes it's just that I'm the wrong reader for a particular story, and I think that's exactly what happened with Sweet Venom.
Grace, Gretchen, and Greer are exactly the characters I'd like to see more of in middle grade and younger YA--butt-kicking, fierce, vulnerable, scared sometimes, but mostly brave. They're exactly the kind of girls I would have loved when I was a middle-schooler, and watching them discover their Gorgon heritage was still a delight even now. But unfortunately they just don't have enough grit and gumption to keep an older YA reader like me happy for a whole book, and that was the real problem here.
Childs's mythology isn't particularly original in the current plague of Greek mythology-inspired YA, but it's certainly not bad. I've read Medusa re-imagined more times than I can count this year--she seems to have become a feminist icon, unfairly smeared by history, which surprises and delights me--and Sweet Venom actually holds its own against the competition. I particularly liked the girls' struggle to disguise their fangs, which struck me as a funny metaphor for growing up and discovering so many brand-new girl parts. I don't know. Maybe I'm reading into things.
And that, again, is the problem: I read into things. I kept looking for depth, a deeper meaning, clever Easter eggs, nuggets for older readers instead of just the younger ones--and I came away a little disappointed. And you know what? That's okay. This isn't a book for seventeen-year-old Maggie, it's a book for all the twelve- and thirteen-year-old future YA lovers out there. This book is the gateway drug. Buy copies for your kids, your nieces and nephews, your grandkids, your cousins--this is YAvangelism, and we don't screw around.
I won't be continuing on with the series, but I look forward to seeing what devoted fans Grace, Gretchen, and Greer find.
...and the Short:
A great pick for younger readers, but there just wasn't enough here to keep me engaged. Still, it makes the perfect gateway drug to YA, and it would make a great gift for the middle-schoolers in your life.
The Final Word: Meh.
Psssst! This review is the second in today's four-book review-a-thon. It's also one of the titles I'll be giving away later tonight in my giant, eleven-book giveaway. Stay tuned, and don't forget to check back soon!