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Bull

Review

Bull

In the young adult book BULL, David Elliott tells the myth of the Minotaur unlike anything attempted before. The combination of modernized poetic form with an ancient story results in a tale utterly familiar but simultaneously unrecognizable.

After failing to fulfill his end of a bargain with the god of the sea, Poseidon, King Minos of Crete fools himself into believing he is safe. But Poseidon is a god, and won’t be fooled by some mortal. To retaliate for Minos’s betrayal, Poseidon curses Minos’s wife, Pasiphae, with a foul trick that ends with a child different from the rest. Asterion, ruler of the stars, was born with the body of man and head of a bull. Minos’s disgust at his wife’s son leads Asterion to live a lonely childhood, despised by everyone around him but his mother, and his half-sister Ariadne.

After a tragic accident, Minos forces the royal engineer, Daedalus, into building a maze used to imprison Asterion, for the crime of being alive. Forced into an impossible situation, Asterion descends upon his famous title as the Minotaur.

"David Elliott tells the myth of the Minotaur unlike anything attempted before....Not only did this retelling evoke emotion, it was told in an immersive way, with each page containing a surprise...."

Elliott captures the cruel tragedy of ancient Greece in modern language that shares the timeless message told so long ago. The reality of human’s nature to abhor differences is just as essential today as it was those hundreds of years ago. This sincere morality underlines the informal tone used by the countless narrators introduced. His reminder of the unforgivable facts that the innocent are always the ones hurt the most and that the strong are the ones that write the history books --- not the heroes --- is important for anyone to read.

The Minotaur is introduced as Asterion, the ruler of the stars, the boy who just wanted to be accepted. In a version told unlike any other, Asterion steals the reader’s heart with his faultless existence maimed by his appearance. As opposed to the villain of the common myth, Asterion becomes one with those everywhere whose looks set them apart. My attachment to him was mirrored by Ariadne, his sister. Her endearment could not be tarnished by her father’s scorn for Asterion, and only fell when she was tricked by her heart. Every character had depths explored deeper than any historian dared to delve before, including the seemingly faultless savior Theseus.

Most intriguing was the omnipotent Poseidon, who followed along with the reader, as every turn led to worse and worse ends. His callous behavior represented an immortal unflinching nature toughened by the heartless mortals he encountered on a daily basis. The truth that perhaps it was not Poseidon's fault for the tragic tale, but the blame of humans’ lack of heart tears off the pages and into something deeper.

Not only did this retelling evoke emotion, it was told in an immersive way, with each page containing a surprise that pulled the reader closer and closer in. Prepare to be thrown into a place the where horns and heart live in harmony, but child and father can do anything but.

Reviewed by Caitlyn K., Teen Board Member on April 28, 2017

Bull
by David Elliott