Why The Song of Achilles is my favorite book of 2017 // Rave Book Review

“Will you come with me?” he asked.

The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death.

“Yes,” I whispered. “Yes.”

Summary:

This book chronicles the romance between Achilles and Patroclus, two young, awkward boys when they first meet after Patroclus is exiled to Achilles’ court. As years pass for them, they become an inseparable pair, and this book shows how their love for one another dictates almost every other decision they must make in their young lives.

Genre: LGBT, Romance, Epic, Classic, Iliad retelling

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My thoughts:

How to describe this book? The amount of depth, soul, and emotion imbued upon this narrative broke my heart with every step it took, and the sense of resignation weighed heavily upon my mind as I continued on–there’s not a single moment I wasn’t sighing, and it had to be one of the saddest books I read in this year.

However, the true beauty of this book is that it never fully depresses you from forging on, and I really liked that. These characters are so fully aware of the tragic fates they’ve chosen, yet there’s a strange sense of optimism in knowing they’ll at least die loving each other, and I found that incredibly uplifting; this book is not about mourning your imminent death, but celebrating life while you still have the time to cherish it.

Furthermore, characters change in ways that’s almost inevitable, and although you want to blame them along the way, it’s not outcome where you can be so petty; the author isn’t trying to allot blame for the things that happen in this book, but rather focus on the in-between moments of beauty and redemption for her characters, and I love that: you can’t hate these characters because you’ve seen their struggles, and you thus empathize for the horrible decisions they must make along the way.

In that, this book isn’t so much a tale of heroism, but of how heroism can come as a result of the people you love. Achilles is shown to be quite cold and detached at times, but his love for Patroclus ultimately draws out his good nature, and Patroclus in turn is able to save many others by reciprocating the love he receives from Achilles.

This book hits home how these two bring out the heroes in each other, and thus how they were able to be heroes for everyone else; I find that incredibly beautiful.


Recommended? For whom?

This is one of those strange books that leaves you aching yet satisfied. These characters are so fully aware of the fact that they’ve chosen a path that ends in tragedy, but they learn to maximize the happiness that’s left to them, and I found their journey rich and joyful as a result.

So if you liked books like The Chosen, The Shadow of the Wind, or Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I recommend this book for ages 15 and up: it’s very somber and pensive, but there are moments of happiness and optimism buried underneath it all if you have the heart to go looking for it.

 “There was more to say, but for once we did not say it. There would be other times for speaking, tonight and tomorrow and all the days after that. He let go of my hand.”

Final thoughts: Sad, but uplifting!

This book is gorgeous. It’s raw, honest, and passionate, and it’s one of the most powerful books I’ve read this year. I myself am known for hating romances, but this is one everyone should check out because it’s a romance done right.

In that, I give it 5 stars. This book is not a petty squabble about whether these characters were robbed, or whether they were given a fair shot in life, because they totally were, and they gave it their best shot. That’s a really great message to be exposed to, and probably why this is my favorite read of 2017.

My rating: 5/5 frogs

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“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”

***By the way, (SPOILERS!!!) I bawled like a baby in the final scene between Thetus and Patroclus. The fact that they were sharing their grief over Achilles through memories was just so heartbreaking *sighs* and I found it beautiful how they reconciled over their mutual love for him. *bawls again*

***Oh, and I’ve been wondering why this book is called “The Song of Achilles” when it’s really more about Patroclus. Anyone have a clue? Maybe it’s to signify that Patroclus IS Achilles’ song, since he represents Achilles’ heart that nobody seems to see much of. Either way, I really like the enigma there:)

***And as a final note, I’m happy to say this will be my final review of 2017. Which is apt, considering I’m ending on a positive(-ish) note. More book reviews to come next year, and happy year of blogging to me! Cheers to you all.

25 Comments

  1. I’ve been reading about the actual history of Achilles and Patroclus so I really reading your review of the book! Also, the “book is not about mourning your imminent death, but celebrating life while you still have the time to cherish it” was such a beautiful phrase! It makes me feel inspired without even reading the book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you so much! All in a day’s work haha;)

      And I’d love to read more about the actual mythos behind this book, so that’s pretty awesome you already have that knowledge. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  2. Fantastic review! I ugly cried so much when I read this book, like no book have ever touched me like that before. Obviously, the outcome and the Greek tragedy theme is far from new, but Ms. Miller’s take on this old story is so fresh and heartfelt.

    “***Oh, and I’ve been wondering why this book is called “The Song of Achilles” when it’s really more about Patroclus. Anyone have a clue? Maybe it’s to signify that Patroclus IS Achilles’ song, since he represents Achilles’ heart that nobody seems to see much of. Either way, I really like the enigma there:)”

    I’ve been wondering about the title myself and I really have no clue. The first time I read it, I thought it might be like Achilles swan song, like his final performance. But after reading your view on it, I find that very plausible too. Either way, it suits the book 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ooh, that’s a good one! The swan song thing definitely makes sense due to this book’s sense of finality. And thank you so much! I too cried sooo much with this book, and Miller became one of my favorite authors with just how human and heartfelt she made these characters. ❤ Like haha, I can't wait for her next retelling already!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. So, following our little chat about this I actually emailed Ms. Miller to ask, because I was really curious why she chose this title. This is what she answered:

          In terms of the title, I was inspired by the “Iliad”–which itself means The Song of Troy. But instead of this being an epic, I wanted my novel to be intimate, focused on one relationship. Patroclus is the narrator, and so he is the bard, the Homer (and he is not the type to sing about himself!). And of course, songs and Achilles go together, because in both the ancient literature and my book, he is a beautiful musician. All those reasons came together for the title,

          Thought you’d like to know ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh wow, that’s absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for letting me know! I legitimately had this question rolling around in my head, so it’s totally awesome that you actually emailed the author to ask. (thumbs up for being proactive! *stares at you in awe*) You’re so sweet to enlighten me on this awesome discovery, and I want to let you know how much I so appreciate it. Thank you lovely! ❤ ❤ ❤

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how you described this novel at the end of your review because it is so accurate and very poignant: “Sad but uplifting”. A book that is able to do those two things side by side effectively is a good one for sure!

    Liked by 2 people

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