Zeus. When that name was said in my house growing up, I always thought of the picture of the Parthenon my mother had in the living room. I also thought of the most powerful God in the world and all the myths my YiaYia (Grandma in Greek) use to tell me. Growing up in a Greek household, often times my bedtime stories were replaced by those of my ancestors and the myths of why certain things occurred in the world. With that being said, I was really excited to read Pantheons by E.J Dabel for two reasons. One, I really enjoyed reading his last piece of work, Albino (review here), and two, I’ve always enjoyed hearing/reading mythological stories (they are much better than fairy tales if you ask me).
The novel starts off with an introduction of the Gods and how they are still in existence, yet in a different form than you’d expect. In ancient times, all of the head Gods refused to fight in the Fourth Great War because of what Odin, the chief God of Norse, prophesied He foretold that a great darkness would arise after the conflict. So, when the Gods refused to fight, the powers to be took away their immortal powers and replaced them with strong, but mortal, teenagers.
The story then picks up in the present day with an orphan named Isaiah Marshall and his group of friends Jeremy, Pip, and Monty, also known as the Red Rovers. Isaiah doesn’t know anything about his past or where he came from, but constantly has a vision of a lady who he believes to be his mother. After a chance encounter with Principal Webb, the principal of Kaliber Academy, Isaiah and his friends are offered the chance to enroll in the academy and Isaiah learns the truth about his identity. He learns that he is a minor God, meaning his parents were both Gods. His father was Zeus and his mother was Metis, one of the wisdom Goddesses from ancient Greek mythology. Principal Webb, the mystery stranger who was so nice Isaiah, is actually Prometheus, one of the last two titans of Greece. He promised to look after Isaiah when his mother was killed. From this discovery comes a story of self discovery, mixed with information about various Gods and Goddesses from different ancient civilizations.
E.J Dabel is an excellent character writer. He is able to write characters that people will relate to and root for. The way he wrote the main protagonist Isaiah was really outstanding. He really makes him seem like any other teenager, with flaws and all. I was really looking forward to reading this, especially after reading Albino and seeing how he made those characters jump off the page. I think being a big movie fan makes me want to have characters to root for. These characters, both good and evil, jumped off the page and made the story come to life in my head. I thought all the minor details were really important and really made for a fuller story.
One thing that immediately came to my mind while reading this novel is how great of a read it would be in a middle school language arts class. Maybe it’s the teacher in me that has me in a constant mode of cross curriculum, but I think this could be used while learning mythology, or about Ancient Greece in Social Studies. With some of the material, especially having to do with the Gods and Goddess, I found myself checking up the facts because it had been so long since I had studied this. Not only was the book entertaining, but also it was really interesting and I think it could definitely be used to introduce kids to the ideas behind the Gods and Goddesses of the ancient world.
With everything said and done, I really enjoyed reading Pantheons. I thought Mr. Dabel was able to once again create a protagonist that the reader can truly root for and see a little of themselves in. I think teenagers in particular will truly enjoy the novel, as it is fun and adventure mixed into one. If you want to learn more about ancient Gods and Goddesses and don’t want to read a history textbook, I think this would be a great introduction.
4 out of 5 Stars
Pantheons by E. J. Dabel
Sea Lion Books (2012)
eBook: 257 pages
Special thanks to Sea Lion Books for my review copy!