The Gatekeeper’s Challenge
Author: Eva Pohler
Genre: YA Fantasy
Summary: Tenn agonizing months have gone by since Therese faced off against her parents’ murderer at Mount Olympus, and she suspects Thanatos’s absence is meant to send her a message: go on with your life. In cahoots with her new friend, who’s gotten in with the Demon Druggies at school, Therese takes a drug that simulates a near-death experience, planning to tell Than off so she can have closure and move on, but things go very, very wrong.
This is another young adult/mythological fiction I have read. Though no one can replace Rick Riordan’s series in the top of my list as of now, I am open to read another creation in the same genre.
This novel is the second installment in a series. At first, I was afraid I won’t be able to understand it as I haven’t read the first book. I have been frustrated a lot when I can’t comprehend the entire story because I missed the earlier parts. It can be a good strategy to attract readers to get a copy of the first novel, but it can also prove to be an annoyance to some.
The author was kind enough to send me a copy of the first for better understanding, but I am happy to note that this can be a stand alone, too. Even though there were some events which happened prior to the story I was reading, I never felt left-out. Instead, the author considered the readers and tried to summarize what happened in the first novel by inserting flashbacks in the story. I think this is a very good way to accommodate the readers.
There’s not much of an intro. In fact, the story wheeled right away. In this novel inspired by Greek mythology, it didn’t take me a minute to figure out who the character Than was. I easily guessed it was Thanatos, the god of Death, and was excited to leaf through the pages and find whether I am correct. It could be a mortal’s name in praise of a god, though I’ll pity someone if his name is Hephaestus. Anyway, after some pages, I realized that this book, and perhaps the entire series, is centered about this Death god. It is refreshing. Aside from Meg Cabot’s Abandon trilogy, this is the only mythical novel I have which focuses on the life of the Underworld. I don’t just mean the job it entails, but the “life” of the beings dwelling there.
The author describes Underworld as nothing dark. I visualized the scene as something not so gloomy, but not cheerful either. Some people are afraid of discussing the realm below, but the author researched it well and had successfully depicted the world and its parts – the rafts with Charon, gates with Cerberus, Elysium, etc. It’s not something as bad compared to others who picture the entirety of it with tongues of flames.
The challenges are also interesting. It makes the story filled with more adventures for the mortal. Even though I was a bit disappointed on some parts where the heroine easily finished a challenge by bending the rule or going around it, I can say that it is effective in maintaining a reader’s interest. Of course, the young romance between her and Than is something which also add points.
The descriptions of the gods and goddesses were good based on the accepted knowledge that we have regarding them. Their introduction in the story was flat out straight though. It is good, but I think giving hints to the readers first by describing a certain being will be more entertaining and interactive. It will make the readers stop, think, and rattle their brain for the answer.
Overall, this novel is a good one though there are rooms for improvement. I will be waiting for the third installment and I hope that it will get better. I recommend this book to YA myth fans who want to revisit the Greeks and get a light story from it.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.
1. Thank you for giving us the honor to chat with you. May you please tell us something about yourself?
You mean other than my standard bio, such as the fact that I teach writing at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where I live with my husband and three children? How about something strange? I’m afraid of relatively safe things, like flying in airplanes and riding roller coasters, but if I have my heart set on getting something done, like painting the walls in my house, I will climb even the ricketiest ladder all the way to the top rung to get it done. I did exactly that a few years ago, and I kept imagining my tombstone: “At least her house looks good.”
2. What inspired you to write this book?
Three things: my love of Greek mythology, especially in Edith Hamilton’s Mythology; Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight; and the movie Meet Joe Black, starring Brad Pitt. I liked the concept in the movie but had so many unanswered questions, so I decided to answer them in my own story.
3. Is being a writer your dream profession?
4. Tell us your most rewarding experience as a published writer.
Reading the reviews! They’ve been awesome, sometimes bringing me to joyful tears!
5. Tell us in few sentences why we must read your book.
I would never say you MUST read it, but I would say you SHOULD IF you enjoy Greek mythology and strong female heroines in contemporary young adult stories with equal parts romance and adventure. I created a story that metaphorically represents what I think it means to grow up and become an adult.
6. What book did you wish you had written yourself?
I wish I would have been the first to think of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. What a concept!
7. If you could be a literary character who would you be and why?
At first I was going to say I would be Therese in my Gatekeeper’s Trilogy, which is why I’m writing it: so I can be. Who wouldn’t want to become a goddess and swim with dolphins, fly through the clouds, god travel from one sunset to another, talk to animals, and save others whenever possible? But I wouldn’t want my parents to die at an early age; nor would I want to have to face Ladon, the Minotaur, and the Hydra. In fact, most literary characters go through extreme suffering before they triumph—if, indeed they do. Maybe Lizzy Bennett in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice would be a good character to choose because most of her suffering comes from misunderstanding and she gets to marry Mr. Darcy and live in his awesome castle in the end!
8. What are the books currently in your nightstand?
I have three books I’ve already finished: Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn; The Host, by Stephenie Meyer; and The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. I also have two to read: Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, and Prince of Wolves, by Quinn Loftis.
9. Any current/future projects?
I’m about halfway finished with the first draft of the third book in The Gatekeeper’s Trilogy and on target to release it next December. I’ve also completed the millionth draft of the first book of a two-book series, called The Purgatorium, which will be released May 1, 2013. The Purgatorium is a young adult story, like The Gatekeeper’s Trilogy, but it’s purely realistic. A seventeen-year-old girl agrees to go with her best friend to try out a new resort on an island off the coast of California, unaware that her parents have set her up for the most thrilling—and frightening—ride of her life as part of an experimental therapy for suicidals.
This is my projected publication timeline for the next six years, including those already published. (By the way, the Different Kind of Trilogy is a continuation of the Gatekeeper’s Trilogy):
The Gatekeeper’s Sons, #1 8/15/2012
The Mystery Box 8/15/2012
The Gatekeeper’s Challenge, #2 12/1/2012
The Purgatorium, #1 5/1/2013
The Gatekeeper’s Daughter, #3 12/1/2013
The Purgatorium Revisited, #2 5/1/2014
Magpies in Winter 12/1/2014
A Different Kind of Goddess, #1 5/1/2015
A Different Kind of Bride, #2 12/1/2015
A Different Kind of Triumph, #3 5/1/2016
Queen of the Bees 5/1/2017
10. What can you advice to those aspiring writers?
Don’t get hung up on one book. You’ll likely have to write many before you have one ready to be published, and even after you publish, you need to keep producing more to attract a readership.
JUST FOR FUN
What do you on your free time?
Read, write, and watch TV—either HGTV, “The Big Bang Theory,” “Modern Family,” “Once Upon a Time,” or “NCIS.” I also love to travel and see new places and hope to do more of that in the future. One of my favorite things to do: On days when I don’t teach and the kids and hubby go to school and work, I LOVE to go back to bed for a couple of hours with the sunlight streaming in through the windows. Morning sleep is the BEST.
If someone will write you a biography, what would be its title?
The Millennium Falcon because I’ve always been a goal-setter who meets her goals even though I have a few strange quirks and sometimes look as though I’m falling apart.
If you have won the lottery, what will be the first thing you will buy?
My children’s college education.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
My favorite place I’ve visited is Colorado. My favorite place I have yet to visit is Costa Rica.
Any pet peeves?
Not really. I’m a pretty tolerant person.
Eva Pohler teaches writing at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she lives with her husband, three children, two dogs, two rats, and her very large collection of books.