Book Review: The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I wanted to give it four stars, so I struggled back and forth. The plot is fantastic, and her prose is neat, tight, and clear. In fact, I loved how she set up chapter 12; I was blown away, so I will be doing a literary analysis, for fun, on that scene. However, the problems tip the scales, so I cannot, in good conscience, give Miller’s book more than three stars.

My reason:

Many, if not most, of her support characters have little agency. Chiron, for example, seems to only exist to teach young Achilles and Patroclus. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I will not dig up more than is needed to make my point, and just leave it here. But note this: most support characters in this book lack their own agency.

However, I loved the story; I am a huge history nerd, and I love her ability to retell classic literature through the modern medium of prose. She is brilliant, and the book is wonderful—for a pleasure read. What screwed it for me was my recent learning of close-reading. I am a creative writing student. Oh, how the gods punish us!

Again, I wanted to give it four stars, but the three I went with is a high 3.8. I do recommend this book.

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