Title // Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters
Author // Emily Roberson
Publisher // Farrar, Straus, and Grioux
Publication Date // October 22, 2019
Synopsis // Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.
When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.
Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Many thanks to Farrar, Straus, and Grioux/Macmillan for sending me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The premise of this book is so unique, crazy, and completely amazing. I mean, Greek mythology and reality TV are usually not two things that people associate or think of together, but that’s exactly what this book was, and it was so fun to read about.
It was cool and fun to see the ancient Greek world depicted in a social media, entertainment obsessed world similar to our own. I loved seeing these great kings calling each other up to videochat about the gods’ wills! The ideas definitely don’t go together at first thought, and Roberson did a fantastic job of creating her world.
The world depicted could be really disturbing, almost dystopian. I got serious Hunger Games vibes at points–kids being shown on TV, dressed up to look pretty and trained as warriors, ultimately going to their deaths. Ariadne and some other characters are shown to dislike this world, and to not want the fame that everyone desperately craves, and her interactions with people craving fame and high ratings really showed the disturbing nature of the world. I thought this could be a reflection/commentary on the growing obsession with social media and curating the picture perfect online life that we live in today.
Unfortunately, I would have liked a bit more development and closure with this creepy world. People are shown to be unhappy with the lives they’re locked into, but having to hide it and pretend and do things they don’t want to anyways. This sort of reveals how terrible the world can be, and motivates Ariadne to fight back and try to get out, which was good, but I thought it could have been resolved a little better.
For example, there is a scene where a celebrity who makes sex tapes is shown to be taking pills to forget that everyone is watching, and it’s implied that she might not want it. Another character is repeatedly told to undress, and show at least nipples for the camera. Although Ariadne does want to get out, these scenes felt sort of rape-y and I didn’t think they were fully addressed considering how dark and heavy of themes they are.
I absolutely love retellings and especially Greek mythology, so I was so excited to read this book, and it definitely did not disappoint. I was vaguely familiar with the story of the Minotaur before reading, but didn’t recall all the details, so I read it mostly as its own original story with some references to Greek mythology in it, and after I finished, I reread the original myth, so I could really see all the references, changes, and ways this book sticks to the original, and I think a person could really enjoy this book with or without really knowing the story, and knowing the myth just enhances it!
I really liked Ariadne as a character. She’s shown to be kind and compassionate, caring for the Minotaur and seeing depth in him when nobody else will and everyone just sees a monster. All along she never wanted to be involved in the horrible TV show that leads to the deaths of so many kids as well as hurting the monster. At the beginning she doesn’t like it but leaves it alone, but throughout the book she really grows to see that she has to do something to create the change she wants and take action.
I really enjoyed her interactions with the other characters as well. I loved seeing her and Theasus, and although the romance moved a bit too quickly and was a bit too close to instalove for my liking, I mostly liked it and there were some seriously swoony moments! I loved Icarus as her best friend and even her interactions with her sisters who seemed shallow and vapid at first had hidden depths. And of course my absolute favorite relationship is that of Ariadne and the Minotaur, and my heart was just breaking with them.
Overall, although there were some things I think could have been developed more, this was a really enjoyable read and I definitely recommend it!