The Song of Achilles will break you then put you back together again

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Photo Credit: Photo credit via Katherine Albuquerque

The Song of Achilles is an award winning young adult novel by Madeline Miller. It retells the classic Greek story of Achilles and Patroclus

By: Katherine Albuquerque, Editor

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a New York Times bestseller that retells the Greek myth of Patroclus and Achilles in the most beautiful way. 

Madeline Miller is a New York Times best-selling author of The Song of Achilles and Circe. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Brown University in Latin and Ancient Greek. She has been teaching Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare for fifteen years to high school students. Moreover, she also studied at the Yale School of Drama, where she specialized in adapting the classical text to more modern forms. She has a handful of essays that have appeared in The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and many other publications. 

The Song of Achilles was her first novel- she spent ten years writing it. In 2012, it got the award for the Orange Prize for fiction. Recently in 2021, it reached number one on the New York Times Best Sellers List- ten years after its release. Her second novel, Circe, debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers List and won a handful of awards including an American Library Association Alex Award. HBO Max is currently adapting it into a series. 

Summary 

The story follows the life of Patroclus, a young prince who is the son of Menoitius. As a child, he meets a boy with golden blonde hair to whom he feels a very strong connection to. A few years pass, and he is sent to Pthia after being exiled for an act of violence. As if the stars aligned, the kingdom Patroclus has been exiled to is home of Prince Achilles- the boy with golden blonde hair. 

Achilles is half-human, half-god, son of King Peleus and the infamous sea goddess, Thetis. He is an extremely skilled fighter and is destined to be one of the greatest warriors of all time. Patroclus and Achilles ultimately develop a strong bond, which grows in a deeper love connection. The two become inseparable. 

Eventually, a prophecy comes out that Achilles will receive great fame, recognition, and honor as the greatest fighter in the world- as long as he fights in the Trojan War. Patroclus is quick to follow behind Achilles into the war, never leaving his side. Nonetheless, will a twisted fate tear the two apart?

Review

This book is excellent. Miller’s incredible writing truly brings the story of Patroclus and Achilles to life. It is heart-wrenching yet beautiful, leaving you with a sense of comfort yet heartbreak. 

I love how the book is told from Patroclus’s point of view, as it only makes it more emotionally charged. The writing is descriptive and detailed. This allows the readers to perfectly imagine each scene and feel like they are a part of the story. However, sometimes there were a bit too many details that I felt were unnecessary to include. 

This book leaves you feeling the same grief, relief, hope, and comfort as the characters do. I was at a loss of words by the end and cried in a way I have never cried over a novel before. This aspect of emotion makes the story come alive and leaves me feeling connected to the story, as if I knew the characters themselves. 

I would give this book a 10 out of 10, 100 out of 100, and 1000 out of 1000. All in all, it has touched me in a way no book ever has and I will never forget it- especially as a young-adult novel. You can purchase this book on Amazon for $10.35, and at Barnes and Noble for $13.99. I highly recommend this novel!