Greek mythology. I've often expressed my love for it here on I Write, I Read, I Review. But I've always followed that with a warning: I'm very touchy about reading peoples' stories about Greek Myth. It's not that I don't feel the myths and characters should be messed with. Rather, it's that I feel that the source material is truly great and that when I read something connected to it, I want that to be great too.
The Dig looked very promising and I was very excited to get going on it. Unfortunately, I must tell you all that I felt this book suffered from some serious problems and I must admit that I had a hard time finishing this. Yet all is not lost and there is some good here, too. Read on and I will do my best to point out the things that I noticed.
The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Zoe Calder has always been an outsider. Stashed away in boarding schools since her parents died, Zoe buries herself in the study of ancient worlds. Her greatest thrill is spending her summers with her archeologist aunt and uncle on digs around the world. And one day, while investigating a newly unearthed temple in Crete, Zoe discovers a luminous artifact that transports her to ancient Greece.
As Zoe quickly learns, the Olympian Gods are real, living people—humans with mysterious powers… Powers that Zoe quickly realizes she has come to possess, as well. However, when the people of ancient Greece mistake Zoe for an Olympian, the Gods must restore the balance of the ancient world… No matter what.
Zoe is forced to play a confusing and dangerous game as Hera rallies the gods against her—all except for Zeus, the beautiful, winged young god who risks everything to save her.
Out of time and out of her element, teenager Zoe Calder finds herself in ancient Greece, battling against the power of the Olympians and the vengeance of a scorned goddess—all for the strange and mysterious boy she has come to love.
Sounds fascinating, right? That's how I felt when I started this and for a while I was really getting into it. Unfortunately it took too long for this story to get going and by the time that it did my patience was already so low that I couldn't really connect with it.
There are several reasons for this. I felt that we bounced around too much, moving from one event to the next in a way that never really let me get my footing. I also found some of the world building, on the mythological front, incredibly weird. Hart used creatures that I have never heard of before, but there comings and going were so quick and abrupt that I really couldn't get a grasp on them and I grew tired of trying to.
This leads to another serious problem, that I will address even more in the character section. I felt that we spent way too much time inside of Zoe's head without her having any solid, constant companions. Having the locale of a story jump quickly can work. Having characters come and go can work. But the two put in tandem, at the speed that they tended to happen in The Dig, only succeeded in annoying me and kept me from ever really feeling that I had left my chair.
This is truly unfortunate, because Hart's ability to describe real, normal things and how Zoe reacted to them was excellent and I could really 'see' those parts of the world very clearly. I felt that these descriptions were well handled and well written.
I genuinely did like Zoe, and I also loved the way that Hart captured her voice. The way that her mind worked, going from one thing to another as she traveled ancient Greece, did help to break up some of the tedium of her being on her own at times. But at other times, this did break my immersion or confuse me, as the transitions between what was happening and what Zoe was thinking could be very jarring. I felt that Zoe had a very natural teen voice and I found myself laughing at some of the things that she said.
The rest of the characters had a tendency to come and go as the story went on in a way that made me get tired of meeting new character, seeing what they were there for, and having them leave. I realize this is something that normally happens in books but it happened here so many times over and with such consistency that I found myself mentally guarding from characters who entered the story.
The lack of a consistent traveling companion for a large portion of the book was definitely one of my biggest problems with it. I felt that, despite the fact that I did like Zoe's voice, that we spent far too much time with her either thinking or describing things. Generally speaking, dialogue either is action or leads to it and I felt that the balance in The Dig was a bit off kilter.
Zeus took too long to enter the story. And once he did I really never came to connect with his character, or to really connect with what was happening between him and Zoe.
The idea of making the Greek Gods teenagers was brilliant and I felt that it was a clever way to make the plot make sense. (I really did wonder how a teenage girl was going to fall for Zeus.) It pains me when an idea is awesome and the execution does not work for me, and unfortunately that is what happened here.
Zoe's attempts to figure out what she thinks of Zeus and why he might be interested in her simply could not hold my interest. This is really too bad, because I did really want to like this pairing.
The Dig did not work for me. There were issues with pacing, plotting and character placement that kept me from being drawn into Zoe's world, despite the lush descriptions and the fact that Zoe, herself, was mostly a very likable character.
I always feel kind of bad when I give a book a low score. And as always, I'll add my little ramble: this is strictly my opinion. Please, please, please read the review. Just looking at the rating never does a book any real justice. (Trust me!) The Dig was not a "bad" book on the whole. Unfortunately, it did not connect with me as a reader. Your mileage may very and if it does, I'm happy for you.