While I have a lot of writerly issues with Madeline Miller, such as her being a profiteer of Greek mythology and sorta claiming their cultural base as her own in the capitalistic market, my biggest issue is really with her writing style. She is a slow-paced writer. Over-indulgent to be exact, you can read pages and pages of Miller’s work without anything ever happening.
It was this way in Circe as well. However, I was more lenient in that case as a result of it being a story I had never heard before. So it had that element of being new and exciting. The Song of Achilles is largely set in the Battle of Troy. Which, as no one is surprised to hear me say, is overly done. The original epic poems we all read in school, all of the movies ever made about it, and every literary and lyrical reference in break-up pieces, this story is infamous.
So hearing it told in the slowest possible way, is mind numbing. I actively avoided finishing this book by reading other books. To put it another way, the most eventful pages are the first 60 of 416. After that, every action is a brief summary surrounded by chapters of description. Nobody wants to hear about how the light reacts to every piece of furniture in a tent, not even an interior decorator.
Something else that really ticked me off about this book was how it was being promoted so highly on BookTok. Everyone said the ending was great, and while it was ‘good,’ it was not worth pulling my hair out to read. It wasn’t a special ending by any means. It was predictable. All of the characters are tropes, obviously, it’s based on an epic poem that introduced tropes to storytelling in the first place. Tropes can only do one thing.
BookTok was also specifically promoting this book as a gateway for people to become readers and I think it caused thousands of readers to never pick up a book again. People who are accustomed to immediate gratification in the entertainment field, such as streaming and bingeing, are not going to be enthralled by hundreds of pages of adjectives. I’m a vivacious reader, and I don’t want to read that.
At this point, I don’t recommend this book. Nor do I generally recommend Madeline Miller to be honest.