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Annotation: Contains Mature Material
Catalog Number: #6578553
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: High Low High Low Mature Content Mature Content
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 224
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-328-59633-8
ISBN 13: 978-1-328-59633-8
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Elliott's clever verse version of the classical story of the Minotaur unrolls in the voices of seven characters, each with his or her own poetic form (an appended author's note details them), but it's the god Poseidon who determines the tone--as instigator, manipulator, and despiser of humankind. Raplike wordplay, rhymes with coercive predictability, unpleasant intensity--it's horribly effective.
Kirkus Reviews
A saucy, brash retelling of the Greek myth of the Minotaur. In a series of dramatic monologues with no settings, Elliott updates the voices of Poseidon, Minos, Daedalus, Pasiphae, Asterion, and Ariadne, each in its own poetic form. Poseidon dominates in word count and attitude: if "[y]ou think a god should be more refined? / … / Never / Bawdy / Raunchy / Racy / Rude? / News Flash: / You don't want a god. / You want a prude." Angry at king Minos, he considers direct revenge ("Boils! / Scabs! / Gills! / A snout! / [Turn] his / Ding-dong / Inside / Out!") but instead gives Queen Pasiphae "a thing / For the white bull's thang." Asterion the Minotaur is born. He grows to age 17, bleakly miserable, tortured by Minos, finally imprisoned in the iconic maze; even his sister Ariadne can't break him out, and eventually he falls to Theseus. Poseidon considers Minos "a dick! / But also so much fun to hate"; some readers will think exactly that about Poseidon too, while others will resent just how much fun Poseidon is to hate, given his misogynistic women-are-crazy/women-are-whores snark about Pasiphae, whose woes he literally created himself. Elliott's absolutely magnetic rhythms will wake up any high school class, and the book could also work as a play. Irresistible, slick, and sharp (no bull!)—with plenty of bull to dissect. (cast of characters, author's notes) (Verse fiction. 14 & up)
Publishers Weekly
Using the cadences and unfiltered directness of rap, Elliott (Nobody-s Perfect) tells the Greek myth of the Minotaur in the seven distinct voices of Poseidon, King Minos, Queen Pasiphae, her half-man/half-bull son Asterion, his sister Ariadne, Daedalus, and-in a minor but critical role-Theseus, prince of Athens and, possibly, Poseidon-s son. The story unfolds in interior monologues, each in a different poetic form, which the author deconstructs in one of two closing notes. All are heard by Poseidon, who comments and adds background: -And rather than be called a slut/ She said I was the father of her mutt./ (You humans tend to be less catty/ When an immortal is the daddy).- Everybody knows how this myth ends, yet Asterion-s final words still resonate: -Hell is the freezing/ scorn for who you are/ that transforms a faultless boy/ to Minotaur.- Elliott contemporizes the ancient story of blackmail, betrayal, and revenge with humor, poignancy, and profanity. Hamilton comparisons are unavoidable, yet the personalities and voices Elliott brings to these mythical characters make this powerful and engrossing book a genre of its own. Ages 14-up. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary. (Mar.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
A saucy, brash retelling of the Greek myth of the Minotaur. In a series of dramatic monologues with no settings, Elliott updates the voices of Poseidon, Minos, Daedalus, Pasiphae, Asterion, and Ariadne, each in its own poetic form. Poseidon dominates in word count and attitude: if "[y]ou think a god should be more refined? / … / Never / Bawdy / Raunchy / Racy / Rude? / News Flash: / You don't want a god. / You want a prude." Angry at king Minos, he considers direct revenge ("Boils! / Scabs! / Gills! / A snout! / [Turn] his / Ding-dong / Inside / Out!") but instead gives Queen Pasiphae "a thing / For the white bull's thang." Asterion the Minotaur is born. He grows to age 17, bleakly miserable, tortured by Minos, finally imprisoned in the iconic maze; even his sister Ariadne can't break him out, and eventually he falls to Theseus. Poseidon considers Minos "a dick! / But also so much fun to hate"; some readers will think exactly that about Poseidon too, while others will resent just how much fun Poseidon is to hate, given his misogynistic women-are-crazy/women-are-whores snark about Pasiphae, whose woes he literally created himself. Elliott's absolutely magnetic rhythms will wake up any high school class, and the book could also work as a play. Irresistible, slick, and sharp (no bull!)—with plenty of bull to dissect. (cast of characters, author's notes) (Verse fiction. 14 & up)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* This striking reexamination of the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur maintains the bones of the original story: Minos, King of Crete, angers sea god Poseidon, who exacts his revenge not on the king but on the king's wife. Queen Pasiphae, seduced by a bull, births Asterion, the famed future Minotaur, who is ultimately locked in a labyrinth and killed by hero Theseus. Elliott focuses this novel in verse on Asterion and the women in his family, painting them in a particularly sympathetic light. Rotating first-person narrations appear in a variety of poetic forms. Poseidon takes on the role of irreverent, anachronistic narrator, as he raps the story ("Life's not for wimps. / Sometimes gods are gods / And sometimes they're pimps"); Pasiphae grows increasingly nonsensical; Asterion speaks in childlike rhymes; Daedalus, labyrinth builder, is ever the architect with rigid, four-line stanzas; and princess Ariadne's flowery language is imbued with a clever slant rhyme that belies her coquettish facade. When Theseus the hero finally struts onto the page, it's with significant frat-bro swagger ("Ariadne! What a rack! / I knew I'd get her in the sack / As for her bro? / He won't outlive me. / No sweat. / In time they all forgive me"). Effective both for classrooms and pleasure reading, this modernization brings new relevancy to an old story. It's a conceit that easily could have floundered; in Elliott's capable hands, it soars.
Voice of Youth Advocates
Minos craves power and he bargains with the god Poseidon to become king of Crete. When Minos goes back on his word to sacrifice the white bull Poseidon gave him, he quickly finds out Poseidon is not a god with whom to hedge. Poseidon devises a vengeful plan of epic destruction, as only a Greek god can. Minos’s wife Pasiphae falls in love with the white bull and subsequently gives birth to Asterion, who has the head of a bull and body of a man. Asterion’s life is difficult, filled with heartache and grief as Minos only acknowledges him as a disgusting creature, and Pasiphae descends into insanity. When Asterion is banished into an unsolvable maze, he has only his sister’s daily visits to help him keep his sanity, but a future king is on his way to slay the alleged monstrous Minotaur. The Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur has been given new life in this verse novel as Elliot explores the story from a new perspective. Each character has a distinct poetic rhythm as the story of how the Minotaur came to grow into a monster is told in a refreshingly modern way. Between the vulgarity of Poseidon and the intrinsic dark humor of the story, teen readers will be able to relate to the ancient tale in a wonderful new way. This is an absolute must-have for any library serving teens.—Blake Norby.
Word Count: 9,958
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 1.0 / quiz: 188151 / grade: Upper Grades

PROLOGUE

There beneath the palace walls
the monster rages, foams, bawls,
calling out again and again,
Mother!
Mother!

No other sound
but the scrape
of horn
on stone,
the grinding cranch of human bone
under callused human foot.

BOOK I

POSEIDON

Whaddup, bitches?

Am I right or am I right?
That bum Minos deserved what he got.
I mean, I may be a god, but I'm not
Unreasonable, and when I am, so
What?

Like I said,
I'm a god.
Reason's got nuthin'
To do with it.

But let's get back to where it all started:
Minos comes to me,
Mewling like a baby,
Frowny-faced, heavy-hearted.
He's got a hunger, he says,
A hankering, a jones, a thing.
But not for a woman!
This jerk wants to be king!
Of CRETE!
An island so dazzling
It could cure the friggin'
Blind. But it's not the friggin'
Scenery this friggin'
Minos has in mind.

Not the harbors or the shores,
The god-possessed waters.
Not the sheep, the trusty shepherds,
Their warlike sons, their lusty daughters.
Not the olives or the figs,
The sacred, long-lived trees.
Not the amber honey
Or the honey-making bees.
Not the thyme-drunk lovers
Who sigh among its flowers.

No,
All this clown wants
Is a little power.
He's got an appetite for obedience,
But no imagination.
And he doesn't ask for much--​
Just his own private nation.

So he wonders
If I'd give the people
An omen,
A sign,
Something impressive,
He says, something divine.
Anything to prove
He's the man
For the royal job.

So what the fuck, I think.
I'm gonna help this slob.

Why not?
I got plenty o' nifty tricks
Up this metaphorical sleeve.
And you mortals?
You're ready to believe
Anything to prove
A god's on your side.
Besides, I got no dog in this fight.
No skin off my hide.
So, I wave my trusty trident;
Ain't nuthin' for me.
And abra-cadabra!

A milk-white bull
Comes walking
Out of the wine-dark sea.

The oldest trick in the book!
A piece o' cake.
But it doesn't take
Much to bring you
Mortals to your knees.

Yeah, you're hard to respect
But easy to please.

So Minos gets it all--​
The palace, the power.
Big Man on Knossos.
Man of the Hour.

But all of a sudden,
He won't play nice.

Look,
He was supposed to sacrifice
That bull
To me!
Poseidon, baby!
King of the Sea!
Tamer of Horses!
Old Earth-Shaker!
And one helluva troublemaker
When some jerk shirks
His responsibility and
Won't keep his word.

So this Minos,
This "king,"
This two-faced
Turd,
Hid my bull and
Sacrificed another.
Like I'm some kind of mark!
A pigeon!
His younger brother!
A harebrain!
An idiot!
A jamook!
A snot-nosed kid!

The guy's all ego.

BUT I'M ALL ID.

I could have turned his eyes
Into a nest for seething wasps.
I could have turned his face
Into a snapping clam.
I could have given him hooves
Or studded the roof
Of his mouth with thorns.
Could have fitted him with horns.
Flippers.
Feathers.
Fits.
Made him smell like an outhouse.
Covered him with zits.
Turned his arms into eels.
His teeth into snails.
Bleat like a sea cow.
Blow like a whale.
Boils!
Scabs!
Gills!
A snout!
Turned his
Ding-dong
Inside
Out!
I could have.
But I didn't.

Parlor games.
A touch too mild.
Child's play.
And Poseidon's no child.

He needed something
He'd remember
His whole stinkin' life.
That's why I bypassed him . . .

And went after his wife.

When you play with the gods,
You're playing fast and loose.
Enough small talk--​
I've got a sea nymph to seduce.



Excerpted from Bull by David Elliott
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

David Elliott turns a classic on its head: this rough and rowdy retelling of the Minotaur myth in verse will have readers reevaluating one of mythology's most infamous monsters. THE MYTH OF THE MINOTAUR? THAT'S BULL. Garnering six starred reviews, this update of the timeless story of Theseus and the Minotaur has been called "beautifully clever," "a literary feast fit for the gods," "powerful and engrossing," "irresistible, slick, and sharp," "a genre of its own," and "rude...crude, and it's a whole bunch of fun." Resurrected from the dark depths of the labyrinth, this fresh, deliciously shocking, and darkly comedic novel-in-verse takes on the Theseus and Minotaur myth and shines a light on one of history's most infamous monsters.


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