Saturday, May 9, 2015

Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom (Heroes in Training #1) by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams


19224230This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: January 2012
Pages: 112 (Hardcover)
Stars: 4/5

Flash!  Boom! The storm raged all around him as he cowered behind a boulder.  This cave was his home - the only one he'd ever known.  And as far back as he can remember, thunderstorms had been a daily event here in Crete.
-Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom

Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi who can see the future, has witnessed a very important prophecy.  While the world is now ruled by King Cronus and the other Titan giants, heroes known as Olympians will soon arise.  They will fight against the evil Titans, but first they need a leader to unite and guide them all.  However, this leader is not even aware of his destiny yet.  In fact, he is to be a brave young god boy who will one day become the king of the gods . . . if he accepts the challenge.

Zeus was abandoned as a child and has lived on the boring Greek island of Crete for as long as he can remember, raised only by a goat, a silent nymph, and a bee.  Life is consumed by storms on a frequent basis.  To make matters worse, lightning always seems to come after him, hoping to strike and succeeding most of the time.  But out of the blue come three half-giants who forcefully kidnap Zeus and decide to use him as food.  They put him on their ship to take with them, but giant bird-humans intercept their efforts at sea and whisk Zeus away!  When they finally let him down, they have already reached land, and more half-giants come to attack him.  Running inside of a nearby building for shelter, he discovers a thunderbolt lodged inside of a stone.  He pulls it out, only to find that the thunderbolt thinks for itself.  It's called Bolt, and with this new companion/weapon and a talking stone amulet, Zeus goes on the biggest journey of his life!  Adventure is hiding and ultimately lurking behind every corner, and Zeus is just about to find out what being a hero truly means.  When will he ever discover his destiny of being king of the gods?  Will he accept his destiny and defeat Cronus with the other Olympians, or will he fall short, allowing the world to fall into chaos?!

My Review:
(I have read the first three books that are part of the Heroes in Training series so far, and this review will encompass all of my thoughts thus far.  I will make sure not to mention any spoilers though, so don't worry!)

Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams have done a wonderful job bringing the old Greek myths to life for young readers!  Their rendition of the Olympians is both refreshing and enjoyable to partake in, and these books are probably one of my top recommendations for adolescent, picky readers.  By allowing the youthful heroes to start out at the age they did, I feel as though the audience will be able to get the full experience when it comes to seeing the characters grow not only as they age, but also as they come into their own powers and individual self-discoveries.

Zeus is a character whom I did not expect to really take a liking to.   My impression of him includes a pompous, full of himself disposition that does not lack selfishness.  This is largely due to many other Greek stories that I have read and encountered over the years.  However, Heroes in Training, Poseidon and the Sea of Fury, and Hades and the Helm of Darkness introduced me to a whole other vulnerable, side of Zeus, and I was deeply surprised by this.  Zeus may become the king of the gods, a position that is sure to go to anybody's head, but he also has quite a few redeemable qualities, as demonstrated in Williams and Holub's series.  Zeus is passionate, brave, and caring.  Sure, he can be bossy, arrogant, and occasionally pompous (as I originally thought), but these traits are trumped by the more lovable ones.  I suppose that you could call me pleasantly surprised!

Bolt is definitely the most memorable character!  This thunderbolt has loads of personality that will leave you smiling.  It is similar to a dog that refuses to detach itself from its owner.  Something else unique in these books is Chip, the talking stone amulet that speaks in Chip Latin.  This language is similar to Pig Latin except for the fact that you move the first letter of a word to the end and add an 'ip' sound to it instead of 'ay'.  This will most likely make more sense when you pick up the book!

This series takes the Olympians on a different and wild adventure every installment and they are filled with action.  Readers are sure to never get bored!  Also, the illustrations by Craig Phillips really add to and enrich the story.  Of course, there is the additional humor as well.  No matter how horrible Zeus and his companion's lives may become, they can always lighten the mood with their humor.  There is something special with this series, and I will surely continue on with it!!!

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