Athena the Brain is the first book in the Goddess Girls series. At the time of this writing, there are 13 books in the series.
The idea of these books is to present Greek mythology with a twist…the Greek gods and goddesses are tweens at Mount Olympus Academy (MOA)-a middle school for the privileged immortals (and a few non-human beings, monsters and other mortal characters from mythology.) Clearly, this is set up as a serial, patterned book series-not unlike the good old days of Sweet Valley High and any myriad vampire series available nowadays.
The big difference that I can see is there are references to actual mythology that make the story more engaging. Instead of vampire lore that can vary depending on where the story originates, these stories are based on extremely well-known myths. There isn’t much variation in The Odyssey, for example, so anyone that has heard the story may snicker in that moment where Athena’s toy wooden horse falls out of her bag in Hero-ology class. (In fact, I think that some of my students would find the references pretty entertaining!) The reader that knows mythology will get the jokes. BUT, I don’t feel that anything is lost by not knowing the myths.
This particular story is cute and the characters are drawn in such a way that elementary age readers will identify with them. They can easily see the personality types represented and the school-age dynamics are relatable. MOA has all your typical students-the popular beauty, the jock, the outcast, the gossip, the brain, etc…they just happen to be Greek gods and goddesses. Their encounters and conflicts with one another make reference to mythology and to the conflicts kids today are familiar with in a school setting.
This first book was a very easy read. I plan to grab a few more over the next couple of months and see if their appeal holds when different characters are central to the plot. It would be a breeze for a solid elementary-age reader, but would also appeal to middle school aged girls that may find reading to be a chore or a challenge.