Pantheons by E.J. Dabel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
On the streets, they call fifteen year old orphan Isaiah Marshall the “Indestructible Diamond”. Isaiah is the leader of the “Redrovers”, a group of teenage misfits consisting of his friends Jeremy, Monty, and Pipsqueak, but when they trespass into “Kaliber Academy” to get even with the arrogant Jason Ollopa, they are in way over their heads.
Principal Webb enrolls them into the High School and Isaiah soon learns about the existence of the gods of the Ancient World. Because the gods have refused to fight the last War for fear of the Mysterious Dark, the Powers-that-Be have stripped them of their spiritual bodies and given them mortal, teenage forms.
Isaiah discovers he's not only a god, but that he's the child of the Greek goddess Metis, the son destined to overthrow his cruel and sadistic father Zeus, the Darkener of the Sky, and become the greatest god in all the Pantheons.
Isaiah is thrown into a world where the democratic Olympians, war-mongering Norse, Gothic Celts, firstborn Egyptians, the enlightened Hindu, the animal-like Aztecs, the martial artist Asians, the intelligent Babylonians, the great spirits of the Native American Indians, and the fierce Finnish will war against one another for the greatest of all prizes: the Dominion.
Pantheons was suggested to me a little bit ago, and after reading the description I was somewhat intrigued, but also a bit wary. This wariness cropped up from reading couple reviews on Goodreads, which affirmed for me that this was a book directed at teens. I haven't had too much luck with these as of late, but the reviews seemed solid and did mention there was something "different" and "unexpected" about Pantheons. After taking all this in, I did a search and found the ebook available for $1.99 CAD. Not bad at all.
My initial reaction to the main character, Isaiah, was... well, I didn't like him very much. (It was tough figuring out who he was, in the beginning.) It was difficult to really understand why he did what he did at first, but that was explained later on. He's not perfect, has things he's afraid of, and seems like a real person.
The thing is, Isaiah does not speak through much of the beginning of the book. The reason isn't given right away, but within a few chapters we find that he has a speech impediment. He cannot pronounce the letter "s", and while the character initially seems confident we find out that this is such a big issue for him, that he would prefer others to think that he cannot speak - even around his gang, his best friends. When he finally does reveal this, it's a very expected and obvious reaction, where it isn't a big deal, and his friends accept him and understand why he "kept quiet" about it. The way it is presented is not at all unexpected, but it's still an important scene.
Now, for Isaiah's speech impediment... it's definitely an interesting idea to include in the story, and it's always important show that everyone is different, and how we all need to accept each other. The way his speech issue was portrayed through the text seems unnecessarily complicated, however. The book is in first person, so much of what we get from Isaiah are thoughts and feelings about various things, but when it comes to his response in dialogue... it gets difficult. He will say "What is it?" and it is shown in the text as "What i- it?" or "Where i- -am?" for "Where is Sam?" The part that really gets confusing, though, is when it does not occur. There have been a few points in the story where Isaiah will speak normally, with no issue, and neither he or anyone else makes any note of it - which leads me to wonder if it was simply forgotten? Intentional or not, it was a bit confusing.
There are also some instances when we get into complicated words that are more dashes than letters, it's easy to get lost! When there was a lot of dialogue, I felt the story slow right down because now I need to figure out what Isaiah is saying, which isn't always obvious. Part of the issue, too, were the added words, missing words, and spelling errors. (Not too many, and I don't mean to nit-pick.) Portraying a characters' speech impediment is tough, I can totally understand that, while still keeping the book readable. Because of that, it's especially important to watch for those typos and errors and correct them. It would really improve the book overall.
With the story itself... There are a few interesting twists throughout the book, and the story keeps away from the paths that High School stories tend to go along. Pantheons really isn't a High School story, it's about Isaiah, his powers, and his friends - that's what really makes the difference. The story really didn't grab me as much as it could have, though, and I think a younger-me would appreciate the book a whole lot more. I can definitely see the appeal, though. The idea behind it all is different, and there's a lot of action to keep the adventure moving along.
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