Saturday, February 09, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: THE GATEKEEPER'S CHALLENGE by Eva Pohler


The Gatekeeper's Challenge 
(Gatekeeper's Trilogy, #2)
by Eva Pohler

Published December 1, 2012 by Green Press
Find it a Kobo • Barnes & Noble and other online stores



(4 STARS ON GOODREADS as well)



Ten 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. She tries to return Pete’s affections even though her heart aches for the god of death, but when Than shows up to take her hamster’s soul, she becomes infuriated when he says he’s “been busy.” 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.

Eventually she learns Than has been busy searching for a way to make her a god, and he’s found it, but it requires her to complete a set of impossible challenges designed by Hades, who hopes to see her fail.
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Minotaur, serpents and rats oh my! Pohler takes us through all the gory goodness of the Greek mythology underworld in THE GATEKEEPER'S CHALLENGE. She introduced some terrific new characters, new plots and locations for us to enjoy. Unfortunately, some of the same problems with the first book carried over. 

The beginning was a bit slow, but the overall pacing was an improvement from the first book. I was disappointed at the number of spelling and grammar errors. An editor's job is to spot them before the book is published. Pohler was still too detailed in some areas and vague in others. I don't care if Clifford pees on everything EVERY time she takes him out. Honestly, if she writes about him peeing on that trail one more time I am going to pull my hair out. That is filler and is not necessary. What I do care about is dialogue between characters, especially Than and Therese. There was a lack of dialogue and specifics in scenes that greatly suffered for their absence.  

Than started to show his weaknesses in this installment. His lack of confidence in Therese and his inability to communicate are irritating but realistic. I did appreciate how he was longing for her and searching for a way to be together. What I was dismayed about was how little he tried to communicate with her. He could have someone send her a note... right? Even when he saw her again, he seemed so self contained and emotionally detached. Than reminds me of so many guys with his brief statements and lack of empathy. I can't spoil it for you but there is one scene where I was shouting at the book, "You MORON!!" He kept asking her to do something horrific and petrifying but gave her little condolence about it. IDIOT. But in the end, he did something so selfless, so compassionate... it shocked me like ten rounds with a taser gun. Absolutely amazing and had me in tears.

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Therese showed off her adolescence with her wishy washy mindset. I love him. I hate him. I love him. It was like watching a ping pong match. The way she handled some situations made me shudder. Maybe I am being too hard on her. She is only 16 now. That was something I would have liked to have read... her ten months without him. There's all this angst but we have a blank. If some of the events from those months had been included, I might have been able to connect to her more. Her desire to reconnect with her parents, loyalty to Jen and her surprising strength of will during the tests were the best aspects to her character. The fact that she recognized her mistakes and was willing to do what it took to fix them was admirable and moves her peg up a couple of notches in my opinion. We were treated to greater exposure to secondary characters such as Hypnos, Vicki and Pete but some were still a bit one dimensional. Vicki was interesting and what she is going through really relates to a wide audience range. The story just needed be be finessed.. we get snippets of Hip, Pete's band, the horse, the swimming. The elements just felt somewhat disconnected.

The Challenges Therese faced were really engaging. My one issue is she wasn't supposed to get help and yet she did. The result was expected. Really... this is a trilogy so you KNOW you are not getting your Happily Ever After now. What really excited me was the immersion into the god/goddess characters. Hades really transformed in this book. Having those interactions with them made for a much richer storyline. Pohler obviously did her research on Greek mythology and it shows. This is the area that she shines. The tasks, the settings and the reactions of the gods and goddesses were all spot on. 

I know I've harped on this book some and you may be wondering why I gave it 4 circles, but the meaty mythology, core essences of the book, Than and the ending are what gives it that mark. I was completely blown out of the water by what he does for her in the end. We are left hanging by a thread and there are so many possibilities for what could happen. It made for a terrific ending. 

This series is definitely worth picking up and reading, especially if you are a big Greek mythology fan or animal lover.