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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Olympus Rising by Robert G. Culp is the first book in The Fallen series. Arnold is an ordinary teenager balancing school with friends, a crush, and a sick mom. But his problems just became way more complicated when their income hits a wall and his entire life changes when he's whisked into a world of reincarnated gods and heroes. The Olympians fell to a curse that forces them to reincarnate and their souls are forever trapped within ordinary humans. After discovering this strange new world, Arnold learns that his nightmares of war are memories of a past life as the god Ares. Add to that the fact that the girl he likes is in danger but her own secret identity directly connects to his own. Together they'll go up against a dangerous enemy that refuses to allow the gods to return and Arnold is one of the few that can stop them.
The journey pushes Arnold to confront his inner hero and make it his own. Foreshadowing is a significant part of the plot with various hints dropped such as Arnold and his best friend debating if Hades could defeat an army of the gods, and the dreams of other characters like Emma who remembers a poignant moment about Ares. Arnold and his friend are outcasts – compared to the other teenagers – but they have humorous banter about it such as Hector joking about suffering from a contagious bout of geekiness. Arnold's journey as a hero is a delightful reflection of the heroic legends that are rampant throughout Greek mythology and the stories of the gods. Emma and Allison are twin sisters with both of them having an important role in Arnold's life. Emma is a complex character who is introduced as his crush but as her journey is delved into, she's shown to be more than the love interest. Robert G. Culp creates a relationship that is sweet and begins rooted in unrequited love such as Emma referring to him being like a brother. But as they learn more about their dynamic, the more complicated their relationship becomes. Their relationship is important to Arnold's story and to the retelling of Greek mythology which is a fun approach to the dynamic between these classic gods. Olympus Rising is an original twist on Greek mythology that blends reincarnation, harpies, horsemen, coming-of-age exploration, and a hero's journey.