Over Fall Break last week I read Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman. It was published in May 2009 and its target audience is age 14 up and grade 9 up.
I confess, I enjoy reading Greek myths. I always have. I really enjoyed teaching The Odyssey, and I have been in a bit of a funk since I haven't been teaching it this fall; so when I found this book on our shelves of "advance copies" for the kids to read, I took it.
Book: It is a retelling of "The Rape of Persephone." You know, the story in which Hades comes from the Underworld to earth through a hole in the ground and steals Persephone, which causes her mother, Demeter the goddess of the harvest, to be so devastated that she causes no rain to fall and the earth falls into a drought. Finally, Zeus intervenes and Persephone stays with Hades 6 months (3 in some accounts) and on earth 6 months (or 9), thus explaining the origin of the seasons.
This book is an inventive retelling of the story with Persphone being a rebellious teen who meets Hades by accident and then begins meeting him secretly while her mother is out "goddessing" around. The two fall in love and she runs away with him without telling anyone...then the rest of the story covers the teenage ground of finding your place in the world and convincing your parents that you are an adult. I enjoyed the book as a light read and plan on purchasing it for my high school library.
Observation: When I finish a book, I always find myself imagining that I am the heroine and how I would have behaved had I been in her situation. I took me about two days of imagining what it would be like to be married to this nice hero named Hades and to be the queen of a realm before it dawned on me that the Greek god Hades is a type of Satan. He really is a nasty guy, what with his underworld realm and all. Why would I want to imagine being married to him? Answer: because the author made him attractive.
Discussion Question: What examples in modern works of literature or film can you think of when someone/something/some behavior that is actually bad/evil is made to appear acceptable or, at least, understandable?