From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds comes a sweepingly ambitious, high-octane tale of power, destiny, love and redemption. Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality. Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family's sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt's promises of eternal glory. For years she's pushed away any thought of revenge against the man--now a god--responsible for their deaths. Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods. The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore's decision to bind her fate to Athena's and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost--and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.
Lore is the last mortal in the Perseous line, and she has tried to stay away from the Agon and the families since her family was brutally slain following the previous one seven years ago. However, when her former best friend, Castor, shows up with a warning for her, and then a wounded Athena is found on her front stoop, Lore must quickly decide whether the revenge she desires for her family's murders is worth re-entering this world she tried to leave behind.
What I loved: This book was full of action and carried a quick pace that really made the pages turn quickly. I was quickly invested in Lore's story and the alliances and friends she has made. Her life has been difficult through her training and friendships through to betrayals she has and will face. This story really came to life through her - and it is really brutal and raw, in the vein of Greek mythology. The connections with the mythology are plentiful throughout, and this would definitely work for people who enjoy retellings, particularly with modern twists.
There are also some interesting themes about destiny/fate and the ways that this concept can become twisted, as well as the problems with a patriarchy and its ability to be abused. Lore has faced the patriarchal society and seen its brutal realities in many ways. Although she is a talented fighter, her skills are considered secondary and in many cases unnecessary. The discussion around the meanings of sacrifice and the ways that "justice" are carried out were also intriguing. Although there was a focus on action and suspense, the book also presents some thought-provoking themes that would be interesting to discuss with a book group.
What left me wanting more: I did want to see more of Lore's past. We do get some tidbits throughout, but it wasn't enough to really immerse in it (and these were not clearly delineated but just occasional reflections). I also wanted a bit more of the romance, as I really liked it, and it was minimal/background at best. I would have enjoyed this book also being more spread out so that we could get more insight into other characters as well. The gods/goddesses were pretty intriguing, and I felt we only got glimpses of them. On the other hand, this does keep the book moving quickly and action-packed, so I do see the other side.
Final verdict: Enthralling, brutal, and raw, LORE is a riveting stand-alone YA fantasy with ties to Greek mythology. Recommend for fans of THE YOUNG ELITES by Marie Lu, HALF-BLOOD by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and THE TRIALS OF APOLLO by Rick Riordan.