Robyn & Tony DiTocco,
Atlas' Revenge
(Brainstorm, 2005)

PJ is an ordinary 21-year-old college student, in many ways, with a part-time job doing graphic design for a small studio (with a mean boss named E.G. Never) and a beautiful, red-headed girlfriend who is quite demanding and unpredictable.

However, he isn't so ordinary, after all. You see, he is the descendant of the Greek hero Perseus and the Greek semi-divine hero Hercules, and, four years ago, the ancient Greek gods pulled PJ into the middle of a major problem they were having and PJ ended up proving himself by slaying the Gorgon Medusa and helping Zeus, king of the Greek gods, again defeat Cronus, king of the Titans.

Now there is trouble again in Olympus. The defeated Titan Atlas had been petrified and sentenced to carry the Heavens for all eternity, but Atlas has somehow escaped and fooled Hercules into taking his place. Even the mighty Hercules, though, cannot hold up the Heavens for long, and the Earth begins experiencing a series of "natural" disasters as a result of the half-god's growing fatigue. PJ meets with the Greek gods and learns that, to help solve the problem, PJ (as heir) must redo the famous Twelve Labors of Hercules. As PJ embarks on this arduous quest, he begins to find out there is a deeper mystery going on, and the future of everything is at stake. Some friends are actually not who they seem to be, and some foes might end up as allies. Can PJ accomplish the Twelve Labors? Can he figure out the mystery of the puzzle pieces and the plot underlying Atlas' disappearance? Can he do all that fast enough to prevent the ruin of the Earth and the end of humankind?

At first, the story is, given the premise, quite simple, with PJ starting to complete the labors, with the Olympians giving advice and tools to help him. The story then gets much more complex, as the plot-within-a-plot begins to emerge, the identity of some characters is revealed to be different from what everyone first thought, and treachery comes into play. The characters seem two-dimensional at first, but adversity, intrigue and betrayals help us see them as much more developed, even as the story grows more complex.

Tony and Robyn DiTocco co-wrote this book as a sequel to The Hero Perseus, the adventures of PJ's first Olympian encounter at age 17, and it is part of their Mad Myth Mystery series for young adult readers. The book is very fast-paced and, once one gets past the somewhat simplistic beginning and into the more complex storylines, this is a very exciting and interesting mystery-adventure story, with lots of action. The authors did an excellent job of giving the reader enough information on the preceding book, so that this book can stand alone. I appreciated this, as I have not read Perseus (but I have now put it on my list of books to get).

This book is aimed at younger readers, and I can see it being good for readers as young as 9 or 10 if they are good readers, and especially if they have read and enjoyed something about the ancient Greek myths. At 46, I found the reading very fast, but I enjoyed it and, while I had solved most of the mysteries slightly ahead of the protagonist, PJ beat me to a few of them, leaving me wondering why I hadn't figured it out.

by Chris McCallister
13 January 2007

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