Pandora Gets Vain

pandora2 By Carolyn Hennesy [LibraryThingAmazon]

Having returned Jealousy to the box of evils she accidentally opened last month, Pandora heads off to find the next plague: Vanity. Accompanied by her best friends Alcie and Iole, her faithful dog Dido, and their hunky new bodyguard Homer, Pandora travels to Alexandria, Egypt. But even if she can master the language, avoid the mummies, and break Vanity’s grip over the 10-year-old Queen Cleopatra, can she survive the traps the goddess Hera keeps laying in her path?

Before I read Pandora Gets Vain, I reread the first book in this series, Pandora Gets Jealous, to refresh my memory, and I found that many of the aspects that had mildly annoyed me the first time around were really getting on my nerves all of a sudden. For example, I really don’t like the fact that Pandora was able to take her two best friends, her super-smart dog, her talking diary, and a magical seashell “cell phone” that lets her talk to her father Prometheus, one of the wisest and most cunning figures in the entire Greek pantheon. Add to that a magic net, a magic rope, a talking bust of Athena, and the direct intervention of Athena, Artemis, Apollo, Poseidon, Hephaestus, and Hermes, and quite frankly her quest just seems too easy.

Then, of course, there’s the problem every mythology buff encounters when reading books based on the Greek myths: even if you can relax and quiet the voices screaming “Oh my God, Pandora is not Prometheus’s daughter!” and other such purist laments, there’s still the matter of interpretation. What I mean is, I don’t mind if someone plays fast and loose with Greek mythology, but how they play fast and loose with it can rankle me. I am not a fan of this interpretation of Hera; Hennesy is doing her best to make Hera seem lumbering, monstrous, and stupid, none of which Hera was. She wasn’t a nice goddess, but this extraordinary vilification (she wants to destroy the human race, in a roundabout way) is too much for me. And Demeter as her right-hand woman is just plain wrong; Demeter is up there with Hephaestus for “nicest god.” Meanwhile, Aphrodite is caring and sympathetic? What bizarro world is this? Of course, your mileage may vary, but I find these interpretations, well, out of character.

On top of all that, Pandora is repeatedly said to be curious without ever demonstrating such curiosity, Alcie’s affliction of cursing by shouting out the names of fruits isn’t funny, the prose is a bit amateurish, and some of the historical inaccuracies really bother me. For example, I don’t mind that the girls attend school, which wasn’t a thing that would have happened in ancient Greece, but it does bother me that they encounter Cleopatra, who existed much, much later than the historical Golden Age of Athens, much less the mythological Golden Age.

However, the books do still have a certain charm. Pandora is essentially likeable, albeit not as curious as I would like. The adventures are compelling, and the cameos from across both the Greek and Egyptian pantheons are fun. I particularly enjoyed the fact that what I thought was going to be a big, frustrating love triangle between Pandora, Homer, and Alcie wound up just being a sweet little romance between Homer and Alcie.

All in all, the Pandora series is getting to be one of those series that drives me crazy but that I can’t stop reading. I have way too many of those. I’m still going to pick up the next book, Pandora Gets Lazy, but even with that, Pandora Gets Vain only gets two and a half cupcakes.

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    One Response to “Pandora Gets Vain”

    1. Rebecca says:

      Ught, the applied attribute thing would make me CRAZY. It’s a huge part of why I never finished Vampirates — stop TELLING me your character is clever and show her DOING something clever, you know? Grrr.

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