Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Goddess Girls #4 Artemis the Brave by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Artemis is the Goddess Girl at Mount Olympus Academy who would be voted most brave by her friends. But Artemis is just as frightened as they are by their assignments in the Forest of Beasts, she's just better at hiding her fear and reacting anyway, which makes her feel less than Brave and more like a coward. She's also the least interested in boys among the three, and Athena is probably second to her, so when she catches sight of a young Godboy with blonde hair and bright blue eyes, it throws her for a loop that she finds herself distracted by him.

And then she starts feeling strangely untidy, because he is always so perfectly put together, coiffed and groomed. And he likes dogs, having one named Sirius that gets along well with her own hounds. This new boy is named Orion Starr, and although he looks like a Godboy, he's actually a human using a body spray that makes him shimmer just like one of the other Godboys. He was invited by Zeus himself to the school, and it's a question as to why, but Orion has a deep interest in the art of acting, and wants to be a star.

Artemis, attracted to him despite herself, goes to the tryouts for the school play, Eros and Psyche, and is completely blown away by the acting of Orion in the part of Eros. But when Zeus asks him if he can shoot arrows, as he will have to in the play. Orion tells Zeus he can definitely do it- he loves archery! But when Artemis takes him to practice with her, he claims to have forgotten his bow and asks her to teach him to shoot "as a God would do it". It's almost like he doesn't know anything about archery at all!

Later that night, it's Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo's birthday, and her friends gift her with special silver-tipped arrows made to be especially keen and sharp and true. In another session of Archery practice, Orion persuades Artemis to take him to the Forest of Beasts so that they can practice against real targets, and Artemis mentions that her godly arrows must be trained to hit the target, but because they are hers, she can speak to them and make them do what she wants them to do. But when they are nearly attacked by a scorpion-beast, they must leave in a hurry.

But when the archery competition that Artemis has been training for comes around, her arrows seem strangely untrained and don't hit the target, while Orion's hit perfectly. Artemis realizes that her arrows have been switched for those of Orion, which are merely wood painted with the same shimmer that he uses on his skin. Can Artemis, who has been used as a fetch and carry girl by her crush, get over her infatuation with Orion to see him as he really is? Helping her is when he abandons the school play for a play on Earth, which closes on its first night, and then he tries to get his old position as Eros back.

Will Zeus allow Orion back, or will he find an alternate way of making his wayward lead into a "Star"? And will Artemis, who had her first foray into love turn out so cruelly wrong, manage to make herself move on from her feelings of being used? And will Artemis be shown as really brave, or can she confess to her friends that she isn't really brave at all?

I must be insane. One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same actions over and over and expecting that the outcome of those actions will be different. I keep reading this series, hoping it will somehow get better and not make me cringe when I read the book, and it just never does. It's not just the liberties the series takes with the ages, characters and so on of the various goddesses and myths used in the series, it's how it perverts them until the goddesses are typical tweens, looking for love and more interested in hair and makeup.

I had hoped better for this book,as Artemis was the least romantic and girly of the Greek Goddesses. Yes, she fell in love with Orion. And Actaeon spied on her in the bath, but she's the least likely to go wibbly just because of a man/boy. In fact, I did find this book the least objectionable of all those that I have read. It does present an object lesson on changing yourself or allowing yourself to be taken over in personality just to attract a boy who likes you, and I did think the comeuppance paid to the self-important, arrogant Orion was funny, but it still made me cringe inside to read. And the ending, where Artemis sees Actaeon and is attracted to him, had me saying, "No. Just... no." aloud.

I don't like this series very much. The stories, like this one, are occasionally amusing, but I'd like the stories and characters much, much better if they weren't pretending to be the Greek Gods, whose attributes get ignored or seriously played with. I wouldn't suggest this series, and if you want to read funny stories about the Greek Gods, I'd point readers to the Myth-o-Mania series instead, by Kate McMullen, which are far truer to the myths and the characters of the various Gods. Avoid this series unless you have a girly obsession.

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