2/3/11 ** Finished this Thursday night - yeah snow days! ** I know that I read this back in 1998, shortly after it was announced as a Newbery Honor. I remember racing through it and finding it tremendously entertaining - that review stands. Gen is a quirky teen actively working in an adult world; he's full of surprises, many of which blind-side the reader but seem obvious on a re-reading. Turner loosely bases her world on the Greek landscape and ancient Greek way-of-life, while creating her own Pantheon of gods. It's fascinating to speculate about at how the names and historic events in Gen's world might be drawn from our own world history. Kids who enjoy the Percy Jackson books will love Gen's irreverent commentary on the people around him.
As I read the book this time, I really noticed the language; Turner uses figurative language in a powerful way, re-visioning more cliched phrases. For example, rather than talking about butterflies in the stomach, here is an exchange from p. 189-190 of my edition (not the one pictured above):
Gen wakes up and turns to look at the Magus; he wishes he hadn't b/c the Magus' face was bleak.
Gen: "Little birds began to peck in my stomach."
Magus: "The river is running the wrong way."
Gen: "The little birds stopped pecking, and they all fell over dead. I had a stomach full of dead birds for a moment..."
This provided such a powerful image of how shaken Gen was, while also fitting Gen's emerging literate personality.