Destined by Jessie Harrell
The Skinny: A retelling of the classic story, Psyche hears a terrible prophecy: she must wed a horrible creature that even the gods fear. Psyche is whisked away to a beautiful palace, gleaming with gold, where invisible servants wait on her. Her betrothed is also invisible, shrouded by a dark cloud, and only comes to visit her at night. Unbeknownst to her, her betrothed is Eros, son of the goddess Aphrodite, who Psyche once scorned. After ignoring Eros’ warning to not try to discover who he is, Psyche spies on him one night, accidentally burning him with hot oil from her lamp, which causes Eros to leave her. In an attempt to win Eros back Psyche must submit to the gods and pass their tests, even if it means giving her life.
BFF?: Sigh. Psyche… Why are you such a dingbat? I’ll admit, I never really liked Psyche to begin with. You know, if your boyfriend tells you he likes it with the lights out, you just go with it. You don’t burn him with hot oil and try to kill him. But this Psyche was just worse. There were times when she was sort of likeable, but then she would do something stupid and I’d slap my head in disbelief. All that aside, I do have major respect for a girl who would take on a goddess and go into Hades to try to win back the man she loves.
Readability: I’m pretty sure this story would have been fantastic had it not been for the writing. I know that doesn’t make much sense, but I couldn’t get over Harrell’s writing. I mean, here this book is set in ancient Greece and she says things like “crap.” Really? There were parts of the book where it flowed and was as beautiful as the love story and then someone would say something like “dude, she’s hot!” (okay, this was not an actual line from the book but you get my drift) I found it really hard to concentrate on it and not feel like I was reading an English 101 paper written by Fratty McFrat the night before it was due.
Crush Level: 3
Eros was a d-bag, plain and simple. Although there were some really great moments where I got a little gushy, I remembered the only reason he even cared for Psyche was because he scratched himself with one of his love arrows. He reminded me of a surfer dude in a way. Not a cute way either. Maybe I’m being a little harsh on him, because he was a little wounded by an old love so I get some of his d-baggery, but still… I was not impressed by him for the most part. He did have a certain god-like hotness to him…
I do love some mythology, that’s for sure! When I started reading this one I thought I didn’t know it so was excited to read a new mythology… but then I remembered reading this one in like 2nd grade. But it was still a good spin on it!
Messed up Gods/Goddesses
Okay, I really realized I was a huge mythology snob while reading this book. Harrell uses several of the gods and goddesses that aren’t usually personified and gave them a really humorous spin. But they were just… wrong! I guess we all have our own ideas of what each of them should be, but this retelling just messed them up for me and didn’t seem to have any basis other than what she wanted them to be. Did that make any sort of sense?
Mixed Up Deities
Again, mythology snob… This book is based on the Greek myth, yet there were a couple of goddesses who were given their Roman name. Now, it didn’t take anything away from the story and for readers who don’t know much about the gods and goddesses of both Greece and Rome, they probably didn’t notice. It just grinds my gears that everyone else is referred to by their Greek name and two of the goddesses were referred to by their Roman name. Phew! Rant ended.
Commencement Speech: Sometimes books try to take a new spin on a classic tale and it works. The writers breathe new life into tales and give them a modern twist. Destined tried and, unfortunately, just didn’t quite do it. I think had the writing been more in-tune to the story I wouldn’t have had such a problem with it. Unfortunately I feel like I missed out on so much because I was so focused on how the writing didn’t match the setting. I will say, however, that during the pages where the writing fit the setting (such as the lovely scenes between Psyche and Eros) I really fell for it and enjoyed both of the characters, as well as the story. I think Jessie Harrell has a lot of potential as a writer and will definitely keep an eye out for her future works; this one, unfortunately, just fell short with me. Of course, again… I’m a mythology snob.
Superlatives – Most Likely to Fail My Mythology Professor’s Final Exam