A review by doughtah
Neon Gods, by Katee Robert

dark fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? N/A
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No
Neon Gods was interesting. To be honest, I went in with a couple expectations: this is a retelling of Hades & Persephone (I’m already predisposed to like it), and if it’s based on the gods there’s going to be some sort of power system. 

Now, the book is ostensibly a retelling of Hades & Persephone. It’s more of a mob (?) setting where each of the 13 Olympians controls different parts of Olympus (a city in the modern world). Each of the roles is passed from one person to the next, ie. “Demeter” is not Persephone’s mother’s birth name, rather her title. While this is true, the characters who take on these roles use their titles as their names. It’s only the 13 Olympians, however, who have these title-names. Persephone is Persephone’s name and is not a title.

The book opens with Demeter surprising her daughter Persephone with Persephone’s engagement to Zeus, the main mob boss in Olympus. Persephone is terrified of this possibility because one of the rumors around Zeus is that he kills his wives (the Heras) and Persephone doesn’t want to be another dead Hera. Plus, Persephone’s been making plans to flee Olympus entirely once spring begins. So, she runs to the Lower City/Underworld and onto Hades’ side. While with Hades, the two of them come up with a plan to piss off Zeus and to keep Persephone safe before she makes her way out of Olympus. And there we have our story. 

What I liked was sort of short: if you’re into smut, you’ll probably be happy with this book; if you like a bickering couple who also are soft with one another, you’ll probably enjoy the dynamic between Hades and Persephone; healthy bdsm relationship with lots of discussion; DIONYSUS WAS ASEXUAL YES!!

There was a bit more that I didn’t enjoy in this book: I didn’t like that this story was set exactly within modern times where a character could make a throwaway reference to UC Berkeley because it didn’t make sense. These characters are from our time, they know of the 13 Olympians, they even call them gods (so they worship the 13 Olympians?),and yet they don’t make any reference to the fact that Persephone, in myth, was the wife of Hades. They never refer to the original myths at all. 

Another thing that confused me was the magic system. There's some kind of barrier around Olympus that makes it difficult for people to leave. There’s also a barrier around the Upper City that makes it difficult for people to go from the Upper City to the Lower City. And I don’t mean like culturally difficult, I mean physically difficult. There is a magical layer. And that’s about the only magic in the world. Which made me pretty disappointed to be honest because that was one of my expectations. :/

Overall, it was an okay book. A little heavier on the smut than the worldbuilding than I prefer, so I don’t plan on reading the next in the series: Eros & Psyche. I wish the author luck though! It’s an interesting premise. 

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