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The Hero Perseus: A Mad Myth Mystery    by Robyn DiTocco & Tony DiTocco order for
Hero Perseus
by Robyn DiTocco
Order:  USA  Can
Brainstorm, 2002 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback

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*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The Hero Perseus: A Mad Myth Mystery by husband and wife team Robyn and Tony DiTocco offers itself as an alternative to Harry Potter. But it can never capture the same audience. Where the latter series is read by people in all stages of life, this one is very much geared towards middle readers.

It's the story of PJ Allen, a high school star football player whose mother moves him from New Jersey to the small town of Athenia for his senior year. Although PJ quickly makes a few good friends, life is pretty rough as he competes with the school's quarterback both on the field and in love. Things get even worse for PJ when he begins doodling one night in a sketch book that seems to have come with his new house. Much to his chagrin, the Greek messenger god, Hermes, appears and informs PJ that he is the direct descendent of the hero Perseus from Greek mythology. Hermes explains that someone has stolen the moment in time in which Perseus slew Medusa, birthing Pegasus who delivers the lightning to Zeus. If PJ does not reenact this moment, the world will perish in a drought resulting from Zeus's inability to provide rain all those years ago. PJ is left with no choice but to follow Hermes and become a hero.

I had a couple of problems with this book. First, though the series is billed as a mystery and there is the question mark of who stole the moment in time, there is no detective work of any sort. As PJ goes through the trials of Perseus, he eventually hears who is behind the missing moment. It is an adventure, but not a mystery. Second, the 17-year-old protagonist is too old for the reading group to which this book appeals. Most intermediate school students can only guess what it is like to be a senior in high school, but do not spend much time dwelling on it since it seems so far away. While I could not see this story happening to a 12-year-old, it would work for a 14-year-old, which would be closer in age to a middle reader than 17. I also found the portrayal of high school life to be unrealistic.

While the book has these flaws, the authors do a nice job of bringing the Greek gods and the myth of Perseus to life for younger readers. The story is more in-depth and definitely more entertaining than what you find in Bulfinch's Mythology. I recommend The Hero Perseus to middle readers interested in Greek mythology. Those who are older might prefer watching the old cult classic, The Clash of the Titans, to get their entertainment from the Perseus myth.

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