A review by michellemaas
Neon Gods, by Katee Robert

dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


* Beware of minor spoilers

First read:
3.5 - ⭐⭐⭐💫
Second read:
3 - ⭐⭐⭐

First Installment in the Dark Olympus series, which is a series of interconnected standalone novels retelling our favorite Greek myths. Adult Mythological Retelling featuring the "forbidden love", "fake dating", "grumpy X sunshine", "dead parent", "forced proximity", and "hurt/comfort" tropes.

Neon Gods by Katee Robert. It was not what I expected in the least, I'll give her that.

“You’ve ruined me, Persephone. Forgive the f*ck out of me if I want to return the favor.”

Neon Gods is a Hades and Persephone retelling from a completely modernized perspective. Persephone, a 24-year-old socialite, wants nothing more than to escape Olympus. She and her 3 sisters are constantly scrutinized by the media for being the daughters of Demeter and she just wants to build a life of her own outside of the boundaries of the city. You can imagine her surprise when her mother sets up her engagement to Zeus as a power-move and is forced to accept or face the wrath of her mother, but also potentially endanger her sisters. After meeting Hades, who runs the "bad" part of town, they start working together to take down Zeus: if Hades ruins Persephone's reputation Zeus will no longer want her and she can walk free, and Hades gets the satisfaction of taking away something Zeus wanted as revenge for the murder of his parents. It's a win-win situation until they start developing real feelings and the stakes get raised.

“You’re beautiful to me. The scars are part of that, part of you. They’re a mark of everything you’ve survived, of how strong you are."

The SMUT was good (I know that's why most of us are here) if somewhat repetitive (keep in mind that I'm pretty immune to SMUT so it might not be that way for you). And despite being a little info-blurby and slow at times, I would still say that this was a good book but I'm mostly excited for the sequel. The world is intriguing, my main thing was just that Hades and Persephone's love story has been done so much that it's hard to do it better than everyone else (I hope that makes sense). The BDSM element was a different addition to the classical story though.

“You and everyone else in your life might be willing to play fast and loose with your health, but I am not.”

The main thing I enjoyed in Neon Gods was how well Hades took care of Persephone. Yeah, this book is a lot of sex and kink, but it's more varied than the usual smut and Hades truly is an amazing partner to Persephone. He is undoubtedly protective, but it's a different kind of protective than that of normal dark romances. He's not handling Persephone this way as some sort of power trip about controlling her life, but rather because he genuinely cares for her and he can see that no one else takes the liberty to do so. He wants her safe and healthy and I think it's really cute!

"We didn’t choose this life. We’re just trying to survive it."

Furthermore, during my reread I've come to realize that reading this right after Scarlett St. Clair's Hades X Persephone series and underestimating Katee Robert's writing style as an erotica author first, retelling author second, has coloured my experience of this the first time round. It still isn't my favorite Hades and Persephone retelling, but it is quite a bit better than I remembered it being. However, I am someone who lives for a good plot and her sacrificing her plot in the name of erotica wasn't my favorite and led to its middle-of-the-line rating.

“If their sins happen in the dark, do they even count?”

Before I end off, I want to use this platform to express my eternal, indistinguishable love for this version of Hermes. She. Was. GREAT!!! You read that right: she. Not only was she female as the 12 Olympians are only titles that represent certain positions (Demeter is in charge of food supply, Poseidon is in charge of the docks, Aphrodite plans weddings, etc.) but her personality was just *chef's kiss*. I also liked that Katee Robert explored a little of the morality of people placed within positions of power. For example, Hermes and Dionysus are Hades' friends, but they warned him that they would side with the rest of the Olympians if it came down to a fight. Morally grey characters are trending in the book world and, like athleisure, I hope it's a trend that never goes out of style!

“I’m going to have you, little siren. In every position, in every way.”

I understand why Katee Robert chose to start the "Dark Olympus" series with the story of Hades and Persephone. It is the most well-known tale and that gives her the perfect opportunity to introduce the series and ease us into the fictional world of Dark Olympus. That being said, I feel that because Hades and Persephone have been done so many times before, it does lose a little of its charm and I'm really excited for "Electric Idol" where we can see her tackle a lesser-known story within the same world. Katee Robert's retellings are always golden and I know that she will knock this series out of the park! Also more Hermes!

“Power is as much about perception as it is about the resources one has at their disposal.”

Overall I would recommend this if you like retellings and erotica. This is also one of those reads who would be perfect for people who enjoy some fantastical elements but can't stomach extensive world-building.

* Please note that while this is an Adult Dark Romance and is not suitable for minors or sensitive readers. Be sure to check content warnings on the author's website before reading. Your entertainment is not worth risking your mental health for!

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