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*The Hero Perseus: A Mad Myth Mystery* by Robyn and Tony DiTocco- young adult book review  
The Hero Perseus: A Mad Myth Mystery
by Robyn and Tony DiTocco
Grades 7-9 225 pages Brainstorm Publications September 2002 Hardcover    

Entertaining and witty, The Hero Perseus: A Mad Myth Mystery is Robyn and Tony DiTocco’s first fantasy novel for children and young adults. Constant suspense and action keep the reader glued as the narrative switches between PJ Allen’s romance and football-centered teenage life and his nightly adventures as the Greek hero Perseus.

Seventeen-year-old PJ is embroiled in mystery and mayhem as soon as he moves to Athenia with his mother after his father’s tragic death. His new life begins in an unfamiliar town with unfamiliar people, like Andi and Jana, his love interests, and Jake, the jealous football team’s captain—all very clichéd, but believable characters nevertheless.

His quest begins when he draws a picture of Hermes, the messenger god, with a magical paintbrush and paper set. Hermes materializes and tells PJ of his destiny: to return to ancient Greece and slay the gorgon Medusa. Recreating this lost moment in history is vital to humanity or the world is doomed to end by natural disaster. PJ and Hermes make a good duo and are not as predictable as other characters like the stereotypical popular teens Jana and Jake. The tomboyish girl-next-door Andi is another well-worn personality but brings a kind of freshness to the fiction because of her spirited attitude.

If you are not a major football fan, the descriptions of the games tend to run on too much, but a strong plot and fast-paced action keeps you turning the pages. The Hero Perseus is not for older teens (16 +) or adults, especially if you have watched Clash of the Titans (1981), which seems to have been an obvious influence on it. The novel’s undemanding language and simple storyline make it a suitable and enjoyable read for 8 to 14-year-olds. At 17 years, PJ Allen appears to be too old for the audience it attracts – he should have been 15 at the most.

This book would have been awarded the full five stars but for its jab at the Harry Potter series. The blurb reads, ‘Who needs a wizard when you can have a Hero!’ Other publicity material presents The Hero Perseus as an alternative to the wizarding series, claiming that ‘overcoming adversity can be accomplished without relying on magic.’ That is all very well, except that PJ himself overcomes obstacles by using magic alone. Is not his wooden paintbrush, which brings people and weapons to life, the equivalent to a wizard’s wand? PJ, too, relies on magic, and it is unimpressive to put one book down to promote another.

Another slight setback is the referencing a higher Christian power, which undermines the authority of the Greek gods—the ultimate heroes in the tale that the authors try hard to acclaim.

The Hero Perseus is overall satisfying to read. The best feature about this mythological and modern adventure is that it is educational and fun at the same time. The next instalment in the “Mad Myth Mystery” series is Atlas’s Revenge, where PJ is once again thrust back into the past.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Payal Patel/2008 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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