Title: Weirdos of the Universe, Unite!
Author: Pamela F. Service
Mandy is determined to be weird. When she meets Owen, who is even weirder than she is, she’s happy to have a friend who shares some of those ideals. But after a homework assignment goes strange, mythological creatures are suddenly invading their lives, the world is in danger, and their group of misfits seems to be chosen by the Fates to stop it . . .
This was an amusing mashup of various characters from several mythologies banding together to stop an alien menace, with plenty of Star Trek and Star Wars references sprinkled in. Unfortunately, the short length felt like a detriment, because no one ends up with a lot of depth. This is more about the absurdity of Coyote, Baba Yaga, Sigfried, Lung Nu, and the Wild Huntsman banding together (with a tribble!) to fight aliens whose main fault is that they have no imagination.
I suppose the main reason it didn’t grab me was that with the exception of Lung Nu most of these characters were too familiar to feel weird, and the short length works against substantially adding to or deviating from some of the expectations. Knowing Coyote, the “dog” routine was obvious from the moment it showed up. Same with the rest. To people who aren’t as familiar with mythology, the story probably flows better.
Overall this was another fast read, and amusing enough. It’s a standalone story and ties up well by the end. I rate this book Neutral.
Title: The Shadow Thieves
Author: Anne Ursu
Series: The Chronus Chronicles #1
Charlotte Mielswetzski wants to get out of her ordinary life. When her cousin comes over from England, when the kids at her school start getting sick, when the Greek legends she’s been studying suddenly become uncomfortably real . . . now she’s on an adventure.
I’m a little burned out by the many stories that retell Greek myths, but this one isn’t so bad. It focuses mostly on the Underworld, where one half-demon is plotting to overthrow Hades, and how his machinations draw both Charlotte and her cousin Zee into that scheme.
The storytelling voice talks directly to the reader, which makes me think it might be better as an audiobook, because it has the feel of someone reading a story to someone else. That made it hard for me to get lost in, because the voice kept reminding me I was reading.
I liked Charlotte, who is smart enough to see through a lot of the usual drama of her classmates, but who inadvertently sidelines herself from fitting in or making friends. Zee has some of that same perspective, though his willingness to go out and play soccer/football and to be friendly to people means he’s not quite as much of an outcast.
This was an okay read. I didn’t have any problems with it, though it isn’t going to be a favorite. I did have to roll my eyes at Hades’s decision at the end, because clearly he left a lot of room for future trouble. I rate this book Recommended.