Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan

Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan
Published May 2012 by UpStart Press
Source: my copy courtesy of the author and TLC Book Tours

In the traditional version of the myth, Persephone – the daughter of Demeter, Goddess of agriculture and fertility, and Zeus, the top god on Olympus – is abducted by Hades, God of the Underworld. Demeter, devastated by the loss of her daughter, refuses to do her job until her daughter is returned to her. No crops grow, cold settles on the earth. It turns out that while in Hades, Persephone has eaten six pomegranate seeds. As a result, for six months of the year, she must live with Hades; this is when it is fall and winter on earth. For six months she lives with her mother – then we have spring and summer. Dugan asks the question: what if Persephone wasn't kidnapped at all - what if she chose to go with Hades?

In Dugan's modern retelling of the tale, Persephone is a headstrong teenager who is disenchanted with the idea of life on Olympus, tired of the drama of the other girls her age, and completely smitten with Hades. So smitten that she begins plotting ways to win him over.

Why I Picked This Book: I couldn't resist the opportunity to read a modern take on a well-known myth.

What I Liked About The Book: I liked the idea of the book much more than I liked anything about the finished product. It was interesting to see the ways that Dugan dropped the story into a more current time period. But I was very happy that this was a short book and a quick read.

The Writing:  The story is told from multiple first-person points of view: Persephone, Demeter, Hades, Zeus. It was interesting to see events from multiple points of view but there were just too many points of view for me to enjoy them. I got confused, too, by what time period Dugan was trying to drop the story into - sometimes the gods and their cohorts were clearly in our time period but then there were numerous references to Jesus and how he was stirring things up. One character was a plumber and the methods were certainly hundreds of years old yet the young girls talked like some of the girls my daughter knows. I was never sure what audience Dugan was aiming for either. It felt like a YA novel...sometimes.

What I Didn't Like: I was certain, as I was reading the book, that I was reading a first novel, perhaps by someone who has only just graduated from college. Imagine my surprise to discover that Dugan' is a journalist and this is her third novel. There were grammatical errors, the characters lacked depth, the various voices didn't really sound different to me.

If you check out the full blog tour, you'll discover that I'm pretty much alone in my opinion of this book. Most of the other blogs appear to read and review a lot of YA and maybe that's why, maybe this really is a YA novel. If you're a fan of YA, particularly if you're also a fan of mythology, this might just be a book you'll enjoy.


  1. Sounds like it was poorly executed all around. Grammatical errors??

  2. Darn, I'm sorry this one didn't turn out to be a good fit for you, but thanks for being on the tour.

  3. I was confused just by your description!! I'm sure it is the YA angle but still grammatical errors????? Holy moly!