Rick Riordan sort of ruined other young adult novels with (Greek) mythological storylines for me. His Percy Jackson series is one of my all-time favourite books to read and even now many years later I still get a kick from them whenever I skim through the pages. But recently, I think I may have a found a new series with a lot of potential to rebuild what Riordan has ruined for me in YA mythology.
Descendants revolves around seventeen year-old El Devereux, who has lived a sheltered life and has been hidden away from the world because of the deadly power that slumbers in her. She is an arete – powerful beings that trace their lineage to Ancient Greece and inherited their powers from cursed beings like Medusa. So, not your typical demigod. And through the kerykeion – a powerful symbol that conceals the aerate world – they are able to protect themselves from the humans and vice versa.
Our heroine El is a serpent or an arete with the ability to manipulate humans with their gazes. She is a drakon or serpents that have the ability manipulate and control fire. Other types of serpents include the hydra (water), typhon (air), and ladon (earth). And all of this information thrust into her full force as she is drawn deeper into the conflict between two factions: those who want to build an empire around the kerykeion and those who want to take it down.
So that’s pretty much the best I could do in summarising the plot of this series. And now let’s move on to what I thought of the story. I found the first few chapters of the novel to be really confusing. There was a lot of information being thrown at the reader, and at the same time the plot was escalating all too quickly. At one chapter you have El casually observing in an art gallery and suddenly a man dies and she’s being taken by her long-lost mother into hiding. Like whaaaaaaaaaat. When I finally got around to understanding what the heck is happening, I really enjoyed how things escalated further as the story progressed. Though I would say overall the pacing was a little too fast, for me, and it missed the opportunity for more detailed descriptions of the world of the arete.
Since this is only the first book, I’m letting the characters off the hook. While I liked our protagonist El enough, there’s still a lot of room for character development. She’s pretty weak for the most part and not’s until the final moments of the novel do we really see her blossom into this full-fledged powerhouse who can manipulate fire at her will. Also, in the first half of the book she allows herself to be tossed around by people that’s why she’s stuck between the conflict of the two opposing factions. Get a hold of yourself together, girl!
I didn’t care much for the side characters because for the most part they were literally just sidelining. But we do have two possible love interests here that are really interesting (I use the term ‘love interest’ loosely here because there’s hardly any romance yet to develop in this book). There’s Dan Pinton, a drakon such as El, who is one of the primary persons in the novel in charge of keeping El away from the Order – sort of like the Fates, if you will, who want El’s powers. He’s a very broody character but I like him, for the most part. And lastly, there’s Luke Laukas, a ladon, who is one of the Order’s supporters. I also liked him but again = more character development please!
To conclude, I thought Descendants is a pretty solid debut for a series. The ending set up the events for the next book (hopefully!) really nicely and it left me hanging, tbh. Despite it’s shortcomings in terms of plotting, there’s a lot of potential to be had in the story and I can’t wait to see what Rae Else writes next. Overall, I recommend this book especially if you enjoy mythology and Rick Riordan (which btw has met his match hehe).
This book was sent to me by the author for review. This has not affected my overall thoughts in general. This is all just my opinion, alright?