Aiden’s Quest for Apollo

Aiden’s Quest for Apollo was written by Tanvi Kesari Pasumarthy and first published in 2015. It is a fantasy story which focuses on a teenage boy who discovered that he is destined to save the Greek Gods from the treachery of Hades. The novel reads as though it is the first part of a series but, at the time of writing, no further instalments have been announced.

Aiden is both excited and nervous to leave his home and study in another country, however life at his new college quickly takes a turn for strange. A mysterious, leather-bound tome appears in his welcome pack and he receives an old coin in an oddly lucid dream, only to find it in his room when he wakes up. Yet it is not until he is attacked by one of the Gorgons that he learns of his true destiny.

In accepting the coin, Aiden has inherited all of the strength and powers of Apollo. It is his duty to save the Greek gods from Hades, who has imprisoned them in the Underworld. With the help of his sister and two friends – who wield the powers of Athena, Artemis and Ares – he must climb Mount Olympus and retrieve Zeus’s staff, and use this to restore power to the King of the gods.

However, doing so will not be easy. Hades knows of Aiden’s destiny and will use every monster at his disposal in order to stop them. In order to succeed, Aiden and his friends will need to seek out some of the lesser gods who are hiding on Earth and convince them to lend their aid. However, he needs to act quickly. Hades plans to unleash the Titans on the world and, without the gods to stop them, that will mean the end of everything…

It’s never easy to write a negative review of an independent novel, especially one that is a young author’s first ever published work. However, sadly, I must say that Aiden’s Quest for Apollo is not a novel that I would recommend.

Before I get into the grit of what I didn’t like about this novel, let’s first talk a little about what I did think worked well. While Aiden’s Quest for Apollo certainly felt as though it had been inspired by Rick Riodan’s Percy Jackson series, I did think that it was clear that Pasumarthy’s knowledge of Greek mythology far surpassed this. It’s clear that she knows an awful lot of obscure Greek legends and is eager to share this knowledge with the reader. While you might recognise some of the gods that Aiden encounters, a lot of readers may not be familiar with Stheno, Ladon or the Hecatonchires. If you are wanting to expand your knowledge of these fascinating monsters, this novel could potentially whet your appetite.

Unfortunately, this would mean that you would have to pick apart the prose. I got the impression while reading this book that English is probably not Pasumarthy’s first language, as the story is virtually unreadable. Sentences often make no sense at all, there are few descriptions, and there is hardly a paragraph without some kind of spelling or grammatical error. To illustrate this, I have opened the book on a random page. This is the first paragraph on page 63:

Her age and her actions had no connection. She must have drunk up, and couldn’t stand straight for a second at least.

And, for the sake of fairness, here is the first paragraph on page 117:

The Lilli puts from Gulliver’s travels were now Gulliver himself. We are transformed so we could fit the chairs to perfection; though standing in front of Zeus’s chair dwarfed us. Our armor was like an upgraded version. My sword was sharper than it was.

See what I mean? The problems actually went deeper than this as it also made any dialogue seem clunky and unnatural. Although Aiden is supposed to be an American teenager, the language that he uses often feels as though it is 30 years out of date, and is littered with slang. At times, I wasn’t sure if the novel was full of errors or if the author just spoke some kind of American dialect that I’ve never heard before.

Due to the poor way that Aiden’s Quest for Apollo was written, it was also really hard to tell what was actually going on. Although my synopsis above describes what I think happened in this story, a lot of the finer details were totally lost on me. I’m still not entirely sure of the significance of Aiden’s coin, or where the book of prophecy came from as it is only mentioned at the start and end of the tale.

I’m not even sure how Aiden seems to know exactly how to use his powers. Although the story initially states that he has been weakened, this was never brought up again. I was also uncertain why the characters kept calling him Apollo. I thought at first that this was because he was some kind of reincarnation of the god, but Aiden later meets Apollo in person which completely contradicted this. Aiden also never questions any thing that happens to him. He is told that he has godly powers and just accepts both this and his dangerous destiny without argument.

As you might guess, the characterisation in this novel was unfortunately equally weak. None of the core cast received any kind of development as the story progressed and rarely discussed anything other than the mission at hand. When Aiden declared his love for Athena around page 100, it comes out of nowhere as they had barely shared two words before this point. Naturally, Athena also reciprocated without question. Pasumarthy also has a habit of expositing that characters have different personality traits, such as the fact that Ares is supposed to be funny, which never came across in the prose.

The Greek gods also seemed to lack any distinct quirks, which was very odd given that all of the major gods are supposed to embody specific virtues. The fact that Dionysus was an alcoholic seemed to be the only trait that to have been lifted from the mythology, but also removed any charm the character has due to the fact that he was overweight, smelly slob. Athena never shows any wisdom as Aiden resolves most issues that the group faces, while Artemis never actually contributed anything to the quest.

Even Hades, as the novel’s primary antagonist, barely appeared in the story. While he does finally get a chance to voice his motivation during the climax, this is simply that he wants to have revenge on his brothers for leaving him in charge of the Underworld. While arguably characterful, this still felt incredibly shallow and meant that he did not leave any kind of lasting impression on me.

I think that you probably get the picture. It’s pretty clear that Aiden’s Quest for Apollo has not been edited and it sorely needs it. Until it has had a thorough content edit from someone who speaks English fluently, it is certainly not a novel that I would recommend.

Aiden’s Quest for Apollo can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook from Amazon.co.uk

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