There is one quote from The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller that my basic bitch heart loves: ‘I could recognise him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.’ – so I was gagging to read it. Here is my honest and truthful review of the book.
I had read Madeline Miller’s other book Circe previously, and honestly, I wasn’t too impressed. Like The Song of Achilles, it’s based on a character in Greek mythology, a nymph called Circe, who gets exiled on an island and becomes one with nature. I had read SO many good reviews about it that I had spent the whole book waiting for it to get ‘good’ only to realise that was it. It was just a plain story, it was fine and I was sceptical if Song of Achilles would go the same way.
You: Should I read Song of Achilles?
Yes. Oh god yes. I freaking loved it. Although if the last paragraph in the book didn’t exist, i would’ve HATED it. But I loved it. I’m a fan, will totally reread it. I read the last chapter while waiting for my friends to come over and I was literally tearing up but held it together. Can you imagine if my friends turned up to me crying and they’re like, what’s wrong? And I’m like, I just read a really romantic book? So unhinged lol.
What’s good about Song of Achilles?
- I loved that there was no doubt of the bond and love between Patroclus and Achilles. They were both always devoted and truly only had eyes for another. I don’t really like the dynamic where there is miscommunication about feelings, and they spend the whole story trying to work out if the other likes them or not, but it’s a really popular trope. Having a couple that actually figures it out real early on and then spend the whole time actually really loyal to another and always trying to find another is so sweet.
- I like that the golden boy Achilles somehow was so in love with Patroclus, despite Patroclus calling himself a plain Jane. I think unlike the book Verity, who also seems to follow the hot man falling in love with plain Jane narrative which I fucking hated (read my review here), I can see why Achilles likes him, and I like Patroclus as the narrator. Patroclus is calm, loyal, wants to protect and help Achilles and the people around him. He doesn’t complain.
- I really liked that the gods and mythology were woven in like real people and characters. Magic is just accepted – after all, Achilles is made of magic (son of a goddess) so it has to be real. I’m going to sound like a ponce for this sentence: it reminds me of my time in Greece – the dreamy, ancient feel where the myths and legends are spoken about like history. Why is Athens called Athens? Because the goddess Athena won a contest and so it’s called Athens. Stated like a fact by everyone and yet so magical. There’s no other explanation. Not like ‘because some English person landed on it and called it after a place back home’. I loved that in the book, like how they just see goddesses and gods.
- It’s just so cute how much they love each other. Both of them equally just wanted to stay together. A lot of cute quotes in there. I feel like you can feel the love. It’s sweet.
- I also thought it was a great retelling of the Iliad. It really made it more digestible and real.
What’s bad about The Song of Achilles
- If you were actually a Greek mythology buff who wants it to be correct to the legend, you might not like this
- Gets a bit confusing with all the Greek names (but honestly, all you need to truly remember is Achilles, Patroclus, Thetis)
- The main romantic quote is not even at a romantic moment??? It’s just Patroclus recognising Achilles when he’s in disguise. I thought this was going to be a scene that was super emotional, maybe at the end. No, he’s just sitting at dinner looking at someone and being like ‘hey… that looks like Achilles’. I guess it’s supposed to show how he’s already so devoted and it’s just the beginning, but the scene was just such a non-emotional one when the quote by itself is wedding ceremony-worthy.
I seriously loved the book. It’s got mixed reviews but hey – I have a very mainstream taste and read a LOT of books, and this one was basically making me cry. Great to read once you get into it. Read it!!
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