apolloApollo—the brilliant one—inspires all, and it’s time for his tale to be told! In the latest volume of George O’Connor’s Olympians series, the Muses share seven stories about this inspiring and passionate god. Among the tales are the harrowing story of his birth; his tragic courting of the nymph Daphne; the story of his son, the healer Askelpios; and his musical competition with the satyr Marsyas. Prepare to meet the golden god like you have never before!

I was excited to get my hands on this book—I love George O’Connor’s Olympians series, which retells myths about the major gods and goddesses in the Greek pantheon.

The stories in this volume are engaging and skillfully introduce the reader to Apollo and his roles. Though using the Muses as narrators does somewhat break up the story’s pacing, and some might find the jumps to different stories jarring, O’Connor creates effective transitions and manages to tie everything together. Also, I think the multiple narrators works as a storytelling device in this book because Apollo as a god had many roles and the different stories highlight them. The result is an engaging collection of tales about this temperamental god.

O’Connor’s brightly colored illustrations bring the stories to life. His use of color is especially effective in setting the mood. His character designs are distinctive and his characters’ expressions demonstrate their personalities and emotions well. O’Connor also uses the panels to briefly inject some needed humor into stories that regularly turn tragic.

Another strength of this book—and one that is present in the series as a whole—is that O’Connor portrays his retellings in ways that are both meaningful and accessible. A reader familiar with Greek literature will appreciate the broader themes, as well as the storytelling and design choices. For example, O’Connor had one of the Muses tell her story in iambic pentameter. That being said, younger readers and those unfamiliar with the Greek myths will be taken in by Apollo: The Brilliant One’s great storytelling and art.

O’Connor offers plenty of supplemental materials to support comprehension and discussion. He includes character pages for each of the major characters and offers some basic information about the characters, their roles, and their symbols. The end of the book also has notes full of his own commentary, a bibliography for further reading, and discussion questions.

The publisher’s site gives the ideal age range as 9 to 12. Given the violence and implied sexual content in some of the stories, this age range works as a starting point. Readers who grew up with Greek myths will appreciate the opportunity to revisit these stories, and Apollo: The Brilliant One, is a great way to introduce new readers to the myths. This volume is a solid addition to a strong series, and readers curious about or enamored with Greek mythology will enjoy Apollo: the Brilliant One as well as the rest of the Olympians series.

Olympians, vol 8: Apollo: the Brilliant One
by George O’Connor
ISBN: 9781626720152
First Second, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: 9-14

  • Megan

    | She/Her

    Features Writer

    Megan earned her MLIS from Simmons College and is currently the evening librarian at Bay State College in Massachusetts. She satisfies her voracious appetite for graphic novels and manga through regular visits to her local public libraries and puts her love of graphic novels to good use by adding to Bay State’s collection whenever possible. Megan maintains a personal blog, Ferret with a Strobe Light, where she discusses awesome books she’s read lately. When not engaged in reading or library work, she likes running, drinking tea, and working on her own stories and art.

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