Six years ago, my cousin’s wife introduced me to local North Carolina author Shana Norris’s books. Troy High is the second novel I read by Shana, and during a giveaway she hosted back in December, I won a hardcover copy and knew it was time for a reread and official review.
What I Liked:
Retelling of The Iliad
Though I’ve never read The Iliad, I had to read its sequel, The Odyssey, for ninth grade English and am slightly familiar with the story of the Trojans versus the Spartans. In Troy High, the “war” between the Trojans and Spartans take place on the football field, where two players from opposing teams battle for the heart of Elena Argos (Helen in the original). This retelling puts an interesting spin on the original, and makes me want to read Homer’s story.
Fresh Focus for YA Lit
Instead of the book solely focusing on the romance aspect of the retelling, a lot of the story focuses on how counterproductive rivalries can be, along with going for what you want out of life. In our ultra-competitive world, we need more YA books with this message.
True to Small-Town Football
In small towns, especially in the south, Friday night high school football games are huge deals. So are school rivalries. And sometimes, they can get out of hand as we see in the novel.
That being said, I felt that some of the pranks (ex: laxatives in the cafeteria food, and the embarrassing poster of a student who was not on the football team), were a little too farfetched to be received with little to no consequences. In real life, or at least the high school I went to, the entire student body would have suffered consequences if a name for the responsible student(s) didn’t surface.
Troy High is an accurate depiction of how heated rivalries can get in high school sports, though I felt that the student body loyalty of both Troy and Lacede High were a bit more exaggerated than what would normally occur in a public high school. Most of the school spirit usually derives from the sports teams (at least in my experience), whereas it seemed every student at these schools wanted part of the rivalry; however, I could totally see the football players handling the rivalry this way in real life.
Mostly Greg’s Allegiance to His Brother
There were also times when I didn’t like certain characters’ motives when it came to the rivalry, especially Greg, the main character, Cassie’s, best friend. He was wishy-washy between supporting his jerk of a brother who totally deserved everything that happened to him, and Cassie, who remained neutral throughout the rivalry, though her football star older brothers are out to get Greg’s school.
Greg ends up doing some terrible things to Troy High for the sake of “keeping his brother out of trouble”, though it comes off as Greg’s brother getting him in trouble. A positive note does come out of Greg’s blind allegiance, as the message reigns true that sometimes you have to distinguish between hurting and helping family, and you have to remember your family members are not always on the right side of conflict.
Troy High is a clean contemporary YA novel that I recommend for readers who enjoy books that feature sports or Greek retellings. I think it would be a great companion read to The Iliad in a classroom setting.
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
What is your favorite Greek literature retelling? Another Greek retelling that I highly recommend is Andora’s Folly by Abigayle Claire.
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.