The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“I could recognize 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.”
I cannot explain how much I loved this book. It is literally one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. Miller brings to life such a vibrancy to such a classic story, making it feel familiar and yet brand new in the best way possible.
This book was so hyped and had been recommended to me countless times, but I wasn’t sure if it would live up/if I would like it, especially since I hadn’t read anything mythologically based in a long time. But, I caved and bought it, and absolutely loved it. I cannot recommend it enough; I will keep shouting it from the rooftops until everyone buys this book.
The prose in itself is just so beautiful, so enthralling that it alone would have caused me to enjoy this book, even if I hadn’t the plot and the characters. Her writing style is so in keeping with the source material, but at the same time it’s all its own. It flows so beautifully, almost musically at points.
I’ve always liked mythology, but I kind of grew away from it over the years, but this book reminded me of how much I loved it, if I’m being honest. It almost amps up the source material to the next level, adding even more depth to the story, making me care about the characters more than you would if you studied the Iliad in school.
Seeing familiar faces, hearing the story from a different point of view, especially hearing it from Patroclus of all people, was so refreshing and beautiful (yes I’m going to say beautiful a million times, but that’s one of the best words I can use to describe it).
Going in, I knew that this book was going to wreck me. I knew the Iliad. I knew the story. Even if I didn’t, I’d spoiled it for myself before reading. But, even knowing what was going to happen, I didn’t ever think that it was going to hurt as much as it did. I didn’t think I’d care as much as I did.
I honestly hadn’t sobbed that hard reading a book in a long time and I’m a book-crier. Honestly I’m tearing up as I’m writing this review.
SLIGHT SPOILER WARNING: [Don’t even get me started on this heartbreaking and flawless piece of foreshadowing.
“What has Hector ever done to me?”
Patroclus’s inner monologue, hearing from his perspective as he walks Achilles’s journey alongside him, as they live out their love story together was so intriguing and wonderful. Honestly those words feel like understatements. I loved watching as they grew, seeing how they evolved as the story progressed and the Trojan War began. How they became adults, how their love for each other only deepens as the story goes on and the war begins. It spun a whole new perspective on the Iliad that’s only hinted at in Homer’s epic.
Their love story is one that I will never, ever forget. It was so gorgeously, flawlessly done. You could feel their love for each other, their sacrifice oozing through the pages viscreally. The story is so perfect and heart-wrenching in a way that, even months after reading this book, I find myself thinking about it, looking back on it. Miller’s storytelling of these two is just (here it is again) beautiful. I have no other words for it.
This book is everything I’d ever wanted from an epic. It made me care about mythology, feel it, in a way that was close to my heart rather than the clinical distance that its treated with when read about in school.
I cannot recommend it enough. I’m not even joking. It’s one of my favorite books of all time, definitely not a book to be missed, even if you don’t think that the subject matter is of interest to you, it might just change your mind.
(view spoiler)[“And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.” (hide spoiler)]
One more example of Madeline Miller’s beautiful prose before I finish.
“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”
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