This review is from: Goddess of Yesterday: A Tale of Troy (Mass Market Paperback)
Cooney has built a creatively-imagined tale based on the well-known story of the Trojan War.
Her main character in this novel, Anaxandra/Callisto/Hermione, fits well into the genre of the "strong female lead" YA heroine. Cooney's version of the story, while fresh and a bit cheeky, is ultimately predictable - we "get it" early on that our heroine has defied convention by carrying on with her tomboy ways, that she is an inspiration to the more sedate princesses she is paired with, and that her unbreakable spirit will triumph in the end...she even conveniently finds true love and a neutral zone to survive the downfall of Troy.
Something I quite enjoyed about this fast but engaging read were the depictions of Helen and Paris. Helen is completely without empathy, a self-centered, bored beauty who walks away from husband and children without a second glance. Paris is without merit as well, having used his physical beauty to slide through life, the penultimate spoiled rich kid, grabbing whatever he likes and counting on his strong family connections to protect him from the consequences of his actions. We know how he will meet his end if we've ever read the Illiad, and we quietly applaud the nasty fate that awaits him - something Cooney does not include in this story, which ends in the very early stages of the War.
Cassandra and Hector, and for that matter Menelaus, Priam and many others, were well-handled and described in Cooney's tale to add credibility to her story.
Yes, Cooney has taken many liberties with the "classic" Homerian Fall of Troy saga. But knowing the original version, or in the case of younger readers, being inspired by the story to seek out Homer's version, brings enjoyment by seeing how Cooney has "tweaked" the well-known characters to create a new story completely.
This is definitely not a retelling of the story of the Fall of Troy, but a side story inspired by it. Don't forget to read the author's note at the end!