Book: Neon Gods by Katee Robert
Series: Dark Olympus #1
Source: I received a copy from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: June 1st, 2021
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I have a feeling this review is going to be a bit harsh, so I’d like to make some disclaimers beforehand. Firstly, I’ve read from Katee Robert before, and I’ve enjoyed everything that I picked up. That’s part of the reason why I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of this book for review. I was anticipating enjoying this book a lot more than I did. Secondly, I was admittedly in a reading slump when I read this, so I might have been a touch more critical when reading. However, I feel as though the critiques I’m going to make would have stood out to me regardless.
I was excited for this book because it was a Hades and Persephone retelling that I had only heard good things about. It sounded smutty and fun and different from what I was reading at the time, so I picked it up thinking it would be a fun little palette cleanser between all my typical contemporary reads.
From the very beginning the world building stood out to me. And not in a good way. I was confused exactly how the Olympians were chosen. Some are elected positions, such as Hermes and Demeter, and some are legacy positions, such as Zeus and Hades, but how this whole power structure came to be was never explained. In fact, most of the world building was never explained. A lot was glossed over or explained away by saying how that was just the way it was, with no one questioning anything. I don’t even tend to care about world building, especially not in a romance, but here I was just so confused that I couldn’t help but notice how poorly it was written.
I will say that there were some cute ways that mythology was woven into the story, but for the most part it just felt very planned and awkward, like the author was attempting to fit in a joke or a reference, even when it didn’t actually work with the story. Many times there were mythological allusions that would have worked well, but they either weren’t expanded upon enough or they were combined with another reference that made little sense. I guess the mythology just didn’t feel necessary to the story. With a change or two, it could have easily just been a mafia family romance, and I wouldn’t have known the difference.
Now onto the characters. I wish I could say that the characters saved the story, but that sadly was not the case. Most of the characters were super one-dimensional and had only one defining characteristic. Evil characters were evil for the sake of power. Good characters were naïve and righteous. There was very little nuance. Even the two main characters weren’t very fleshed out. They were written better than all of the side characters, but then again, that didn’t take much. This review was written immediately after finishing the book, and even so, I can’t describe either main character’s personality, because both of them were too flat. A lot of that had to do with the plot though, so let me move on to that aspect of the book.
I’m going to say it straight out. This book lacked a plot. I have mentioned in many posts that I would totally be okay with a plotless romance, and I stand by that statement. However, my fault with this book is that it tried to have a plot, but then ignored it in favor of romance and smut. It made no sense to me! Oh no, there might be a war! We should kiss to forget about it! There was no tension due to the plot because the main characters were so good at ignoring the fact that they should have been worried. There was lots of smut, but it didn’t necessarily make sense in the context of the plot, and became super rushed and repetitive, so even those plot points were lacking for me. I think if this book had focused on the plot a bit more I would have enjoyed my reading experience a lot more.
After listing so many negative aspects, I want to end on a more positive note. Something stood out to me is how readable this book is. I read the first half of it in one day, and the second half in less than 12 hours. The story flew by and kept me reading which was especially impressive given that I was in a reading slump at the time. I think this is especially impressive as there were so many reasons I could have put the book down, and yet I never wanted to. There was something that compelled me to keep reading despite the many flaws in this book.
This isn’t an awful book by any means, just not one that I particularly enjoyed. If after reading this review this book still sounds like something you’d like, I’d say go for it, just maybe lower your expectations a bit. It was a disappointing book, but not a terrible one. I honestly wish I could have enjoyed it more.