I don't read a lot of YA, but I am a big fan of myth retellings, so I went out of my way to ask the Tor booth for this at the last ALA conference and I'm going to try very hard to review it on its merits and not get wrapped up in things like why gods of the same generation are appearing to be vastly different ages and wondering where it leaves Apollo if Hades is looking like a high school senior. (Seriously, you have no idea how hard it is for me to concede that since Zeus, Hades, and Demeter are all ancient anyway, there's no reason why Hades shouldn't look eighteen, Zeus about thirty, and Demeter some age that is apparently not unusual for a woman with an eighteen year old daughter, instead of all being adults in their prime like I've always pictured the Greek gods of that generation since the younger generation of gods is their children. But I digress. It's what I do. I really hope that nobody considers any of the above spoiler-y, but there's really no way I can talk about this book without saying Persephone, and once I've said that anybody who knows the myth knows exactly where the entire story is going.)
For Piper's entire life the earth has been suffering from the Global Heating Crisis. Her mother keeps her always under her watchful eye, and even now that she's eighteen, she says that Piper must never have a boyfriend or leave her. But her mother is called away on a mysterious errand, which is Piper's chance to spend time with a couple of guys from her class, Shayne and Reese, and to discover a mysterious new world that eventually reveals her true identity. If you read inside the parentheses, you should know what that means.
I like the combination of the Persephone myth with global warming; the idea that the extreme crisis was caused because Persephone was no longer spending six months of the year in the Underworld was a great, solid premise. And I liked the relationship between Piper and her mother. As messed up as it was, and as controlling as her mother was, Piper still genuinely loves her, and it feels authentic. When they are separated and strange storms hit, Piper worries about her mother when she drops out of contact just as much as her mother would have worried about her. And her searching to find out more about herself and her place in the world when all she has to go on is the word of her mother is a compelling coming of age story even though most readers will figure it out long before she does.
However: I'm rather sick of the YA trend where the heroine must be torn between two equally hot guys. As I recall the Persephone myth, although Ares was one of the gods who courted her before she was taken by Hades, he was just one of several who was promptly dismissed and not any particular rival, so imposing a love triangle on the narrative is rather out of place. But apart from my just being tired of the fact that every YA story with a female lead must have two love interests for her whose teams fans can pick (even though it is probably obvious which will win), Piper actually mentally settles on Shayne extremely early on. Reese is at most a second choice when she isn't sure of Shayne's interest, and for the vast majority of the book she intends to have nothing to do with him except that he manipulates her mind. However, when Reese approaches her after she has decided that she's in love with Shayne, the focus is always on Shayne telling him to go away. I don't mind that Piper doesn't rediscover the full extent of her goddess powers until the finale of the book, but I do mind that she doesn't even verbally reject him and instead just stands by while Shayne tells Reese to leave her alone. Yes, Reese has powers, but she does have some latent powers even if she doesn't completely understand them for most of the book (for example, she touches dying, cut flowers and brings them back to life). She could fight him more. For the protagonist, she is rather passive as the two boys fight over her.
There will apparently be a sequel. I really hope it doesn't involve stringing along Piper being torn-but-not-really between Shayne and Reese for another book (although I'd be a happy ex-Latin student if Adonis were somehow involved).
If I try very hard to grade this for the target age at which it was written, not doing all the analysis that I would normally as an adult but remembering exactly how much I would have torn into details as the sort of mythology loving teenager who seems like the target audience: Overall Grade: B-