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Review: Bull (Elliott)

This is not your typical mythology novel for teens. It's nothing like the iPercy Jackson/i series, and I don't recommend it for most middle school readers. Some readers will find it too raunchy, while others will applaud its unique, cheeky style.Okay, folks, this is not your typical mythology novel for teens. It’s nothing like the Percy Jackson series, and I don’t recommend it for most middle school readers. Some readers will find it too raunchy, while others will applaud its unique, cheeky style. I understand both sides on this one…

AUTHOR: David Elliott
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: HMH Books for Young Readers
PUBLICATION DATE: March 28, 2017
ISBN: 9780544610606
PAGES: 200
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: free verse, mythology
SETTING: Ancient Thebes, the Labyrinth

SUMMARY: Told in free verse from the perspectives of multiple characters in “Theseus and the Minotaur.” Players include: Asterion (the Minotaur), Queen Pasiphae, Ariadne, Poseidon, Theseus, Daedalus, and King Minos.

REVIEW: Well, this book was a bit of a surprise. First of all, it’s short. I read the whole thing in about an hour, and I am a seriously slow reader. When I started reading, I remember thinking that this was one of those books that I’d either love or hate. After I finished, I’m decidedly in the “love it” category (though I can understand those who are in the “hated it” group, too).

The free verse format and sassy tone of this book really distinguish it from other Minotaur stories. The language is modern, and it reads like a rap or beat poetry. I can almost hear Eminem busting out Poseidon’s lines in a packed Detroit night club. I also loved Theseus with his cocky attitude that made me just want to reach in and smack him. And Ariadne was so tough until Theseus came in and made her a lovesick puddle of goo on the floor. Get a grip, girl! I loved all the characterizations and the different forms of poetry used for each character.

This book would be a great way for English teachers to teach tone. Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end, where David Elliott explains why he used each poetic form for each of the characters. Very cool that that much thought went into it!

Middle school librarians are cautioned that there is a surprising amount of sexual innuendo and language in this title. I’d love to be able to give it to my mythology-loving sixth grade boys, but it’s really more of a high school title in my opinion.

THEMES: Greek mythology, Minotaur, Theseus, what makes a monster

THE BOTTOM LINE: High school librarians, don’t miss this unique title! It’s a fun way to teach tone and different forms of poetry. Librarians are advised to read it before adding it to middle school shelves, and it is definitely not for elementary readers.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. I definitely have an audience for this title.



  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: medium-high; includes 7 F-bombs, 2 sh**, 2 “dick,” 1 “ass”
  • Sexuality: medium; marital infidelity, lots of innuendo
  • Violence: mild; Asterion is treated badly, imprisoned in darkness, starved
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none

This title appears on my YA/MG Retellings Pinterest Board:

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