Thanks to NetGalley and HMH Books for Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Synopsis: Much like Lin-Manuel Miranda did in Hamilton, the New York Times best-selling author David Elliott turns a classic on its head in form and approach, updating the timeless story of Theseus and the Minotaur for a new generation. A rough, rowdy, and darkly comedic young adult retelling in verse, Bull will have readers reevaluating one of mythology’s most infamous monsters.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Bull, but I love David Elliott and anything to do with Greek Mythology, so I knew I had to read this. While I don’t think this will be for everyone, I found it to be both hysterically funny as well as touching and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As the synopsis says, the story is told entirely in verse which takes you a little while to get used to if you haven’t read this style of writing. David Elliott really does a great job with the concept and uses a different style for each character. The humor is provided by Poseidon who is arrogant and snarky yet you can’t help but reluctantly liking him even if he does ruin people’s lives. While this is basically a modernization of the classic story of the Minotaur, what I really loved about this, was that you actually got to hear from him. Asterion is basically doomed from birth through no fault of his own and his voice particularly comes across as both tragic and beautiful. Just to give you an example, here’s a passage from when he’s 14:
I wonder if I’ll ever understand
What I am or what one day I’ll be.
A gross monstrosity?
Minos says I’m nothing more than Nothing.
Can Nothing take a form and call it me?
But Nothing is ever what it seems.
Watch Nothing laugh.
See Nothing cry.
Hear Nothing scream.
Yep. My heart broke for him at that point. I also loved the relationship between him and his half-sister Ariadne who is determined to rescue him from the maze. Bull is a fast read (I finished it in less than an hour), that I think will appeal to older teens and adults who enjoy Greek Mythology. It perfectly captures the mercilessness of Poseidon, the fury of Minos, the insanity of Pasiphae and the self-loathing of Asterion. Because of the original subject matter and some fairly salty language, I recommend this for high-schoolers and older.