We’re going into Round 2 of our Zombie Voting! For our 25th book club we’re giving all the books we didn’t pick another chance and we’ve shaved it down to 8 options. In the next few weeks we’ll dwindle this down to 4, so we’ll have a great book to read in December. Make sure you vote on the books you want to give another chance so we can make our 25th book club the best it can be. To help you decide we’re sharing some Goodreads 5 & 1 star reviews about the books.

Our third bracket is between Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles. Who will win?

68210Gilead

★★★★★ by Breanna
This was one of the more beautiful books I’ve ever read. Reverend John Ames, in his old age, recounts his life and does his best to process through it all. The book doesn’t have a fast moving plot, but a slower pace that I quite enjoyed. It reminded me of many times that I’ve sat and listened to my grandfather telling stories, sharing lessons he’s learned, etc. And it was profound. There were so many phrases that I wanted to underline and remember forever. Marilynne Robinson is such an incredible author, and, even though I just finished this book this morning, I’m already looking forward to the next time that I pick it up.

★☆☆☆☆ by Beth Anne
holy crap could this book be more boring? i mean, really…how did this win awards and get lauded and make readers flock to Marilynne Robinson as if she were a goddess of the written word?

reading this, i wanted to:
1. stab my eyes out
2. burn the book. every single copy in the universe so that no one had to read it again.
3. fall asleep
4. did i already mention stab my eyes out?

ugh.

11250317The Song of Achilles

★★★★★ by Jennifer
In Homer’s Iliad, Achilles is a loose cannon who avenges the death of Patroclus by desecrating Hector’s body. In her first novel, classics teacher Miller delivers Patroclus’s side of the story. Achilles’s BFF tells us how his sad, friendless childhood changed completely when the half-god prince took him under his wing. Patroclus’s views don’t contradict tradition; they are an intimate look at Achilles that brings out the hero’s best qualities. This view is an example of how Miller pays tribute the classics as opposed to deconstructing them. In the spirit of Homer, Miller doesn’t shy away from the violence, filicide, or sexual deviance that was common in ancient times. Her characters are extraordinary, flawed and lovable. I don’t give out a lot of five-star book ratings, but this novel is a gem.

★☆☆☆☆ by Gerhard
Recasting Achilles and Patrochlus as gay lovers is a ballsy move to update the Trojan War for a modern audience, but Miller falls hopelessly short in conveying any sense of the intimacy, physicality or sheer attraction between the two (tellingly, there are a couple of book-ended heterosexual love scenes where there is much more detail; it is as if Miller is saying our Homeric boys are gay, but not that gay …)

The most rounded and interesting characters in this are the gods, especially Thetis … the story falters badly whenever it switches to the dewy-eyed, soft-focus lovers. The ending is muted and flat, given the passionate relationship that Miller is trying to convey.

This reminded me of a much more successful ‘gay’ retelling of Homer, Pyrrhus by Mark Merlis, highly recommended, where the son of Achilles ends up as a go-go dancer in a seedy bar before fulfilling his Manifest Destiny.

Were these reviews helpful? Do you know who you’re going to vote for? Let us know!

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Bored to Death book club is set up by two sisters who love to read and have nothing better to do than to start a book club.

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