Olympian Challenger is the first novel in the Olympian Challenger series by Astrid Arditi. scheduled for release on 3rd July 2018 I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Olympian Challenger follows the story of a teenager named Hope, who accidentally gets swept up in a deadly and mysterious tournament created by the Gods of Olympus. As descendents of the gods themselves, the teenagers that have been chosen to participate are more than happy to learn of their inherited gifts and fight their way to being crowned champion of the gods. But all Hope wants to do is find a way home, to find a way back to her single mother in New York City, who is suffering from dementia. But as the challenges continue and the prize edges every closer Hope decides she will do whatever she can to win so her wish can be granted, to see her mother cured, if she can survive.
Now as someone who has a deep love for mythology, especially Greek mythology I was very excited to read this books. The cover is absolutely gorgeous and the premise left me with some high hopes. As someone who enjoyed the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief series, I was excited to see what Arditi’s book had to offer.
The thing I liked about this book was that it tried to be diverse in the inclusion of supporting characters from different walks of life and how it highlight’s some of the tough situations certain groups of people face. The two biggest in this book being the struggle of foster kids in the system, portrayed by a troubled and thieving Amy, and the acceptance of LGBTQI+ people, specifically through Gabriel, a teenage boy whose wish initially is to be cured of his attraction to men so his father will accept him. Reading that part in the book was tough, but his growth in the book of self-acceptance and love is a beautiful sup plot to the main story. I really grew to love Amy and Gabriel, and their loyal friendship with Hope is such a crucial thing.
I also liked Hope’s growth throughout the book from a girl who just wants to escape home, to becoming a young woman with some guts and grit as the challenges progress and the number of surviving competitors dwindles.
The book has some serious Hunger Games vibes, and I don’t mind it. The characters themselves even reference it. A few pop culture references slip in throughout parts as a reminded that they all came from modern-day New York.
Initially I struggled to get into the book. The opening chapters felt a little clunky and the flow of sentences felt stiff. All the sentences seemed to be the same length and didn’t provide any flow or rhythm when reading. However after the initial chapters the writing smoothed out a bit and it was a lot easier to read. The book was a quick read and I finished it in less than a day.
The main ‘forbidden love’ story that weaves throughout was interesting but predictable. I could love it or leave it, and I don’t think the story would’ve changed a great deal without it. Hope is a fairly strong, sometimes a little too ‘I have to save everyone’ type of character but ultimately she studies and works hard towards the challenges and can get by just fine without the love interest, even if she doesn’t always see it herself.
Overall I did end up enjoying the book by the end as the challenges the competitors had to face, which followed the stories of various gods and their amazing feats, was what kept me going. A quick read the pacing of the book keeps you moving forward without leaving you too long to linger on the events unfolding. I know this is the first in a series of books, but the ending felt rather sudden and not quite what I had wanted or felt should’ve have happened. But nevertheless is was still a decent read. I would maybe read the second novel when it comes out next year just to know what happened after the tournament, but it’s not on high on my list for books I’d recommend reading.