This past week, despite having a ridiculous amount of schoolwork due, I decided to start a book that I had bought myself for Valentine’s Day. After seeing it all over Instagram and the section of TikTok dedicated to books, and rightfully named “BookTok”. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is not new by any means, and it is certainly popular, but I’m here to advocate it to people who haven’t read it yet (or talk to people who have).
I went into this novel with very little knowledge of Achilles and Patroclus. All I knew is that Achilles had a very weak heel, and that’s about it. This might have made the reading experience even better because, while I was able to predict the ending as I read through, I didn’t mean anything for certain.
The Song of Achilles was beautifully written. The characters and their relationships were a key part in making this story as amazing as it was. Achilles was known for his beauty and honor, and he had a strong moral compass. His character development isn’t stagnant, but it allowed his character to turn from virtually perfect, to a character that had flaws and imperfections. Patroclus grew from a boy who would do anything for Achilles into a character with his own opinions, values, and skills. It was a prime example of allowing characters to grow within themselves, and within a relationship simultaneously. The moments where their relationship shined were absolutely precious, and made me believe in love again. Those moments were balanced by moments that, as they grew, made me wonder if they should be together. Even though they present as soulmates, even for them there’s the question of it being loyalty or love.
The story was just as enticing as the characters and their relationships. I’ve never been the biggest reader of historical or fantasy novels, but this novel captivated me despite having all of the attributes of both. All of the sections of the book were intriguing to read, and introduced new aspects of the story and characters. From Achilles and Patroclus becoming friends as boys, to them discovering their romance as teenagers, and them having a full-fledged relationship as young adults. The Battles around them became nothing but complementary. When there were fight scenes written, they weren’t boring or painstakingly detailed. The battles moved the story along, and allowed insight into Achilles and Patroclus’ mental state.
This book was advertised to me as being heartbreaking, and while I think it had elements that caused heartache, they were paired with moments of excitement and romance. This book was a perfect balance of all of its elements, and it broke me out of my academic book slump very quickly. The Song of Achilles has quickly become a book that I recommend to everyone, whether they read regularly or not. It’s fun for all, so make sure to check it out.