Book Review: Argonauts by Kevin Kneupper

When Jason's father dies, he's finally give the opportunity he's always wanted and is recruited to be an Argonaut for the Argo Corporation. Medea just wants to help people through genomancy, but she gets involuntarily dragged on a mission despite not being a warrior. When Jason's very first mission---retrieve some data called the "Golden Fleece" that was stolen by another Corporation---turns out to be a death trap, the two will have to learn to work together if they want to survive.

Book Review: Argonauts by Kevin Kneupper | reading, books, science fiction
Title: Argonauts
Pages: 291
My Rating:
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

This book had its good and its bad, but ultimately I couldn’t get into it.

The best thing for me was the world-building. It was a future in which machines/AI have taken over most of the jobs, and there are a few big corporations that function like independent cities, all vying for more stakeholders by offering different things. The genomancy, albeit far-fetched, was a cool idea too, how a person’s DNA could be changed to not just make them look different, but also to give them animal traits, to give them a certain skill, to do almost anything to the body.

I also liked the retelling aspect. It was clever how the author included a lot of stuff from the Jason and the Argonauts/Golden Fleece myth but turned it all into sci-fi stuff to fit with the story. For example, the “seers” were connected to the network with access to a bunch of data and were able to parse through it and see the probability of different outcomes.

I never connected to the characters though—maybe because of the omniscient POV, or maybe because they felt kind of one-sided, like they had one trait or belief and not much more personality beyond that.

But the worst thing for me was the romance. Jason was a jerk to Medea, he was judgmental, and overall he gave off this air of superiority. And Medea knew he was a jerk to her. Yet she was still swooning over his muscles and his eyes and his commanding nature and how he had the firm grip of a leader… even while their lives were in imminent danger. Then all the sudden they were having a heart to heart about their childhoods, and within the span of maybe two days, they went from being strangers who couldn’t stand each other to promising to protect each other and being so in love they didn’t want to live without the other.

And then, near the end, there was this stuff about how it’s man’s instinct to protect women, and it’s woman’s instinct to do whatever men tell them to, and just sexist/misogynistic things that left a bad taste in my mouth, especially after the questionable woman-secretly-wants-to-be-with-the-guy-who-treats-her-like-crap romance.

Overall, it had a lot of creativity, especially in the world, but I couldn’t deal with the romance and how poorly the book portrayed women.

Book Blurb

Some called her a sorceress, though what she did was science. Medea was a genomancer, a programmer of human genetic code. She could extend someone’s life, turn an ugly duckling into a startling beauty, and cure the most stubborn of diseases. She’d have spent her life helping those who needed it, if only she could have.

But the Argo Corporation didn’t pay her to help people. It paid her to remake their warriors into the ultimate fighting machines. Men with claws, and teeth to match. Men with the reflexes of cats and the strength of a bear. What was once the stuff of fantasy was now real, and corporations the world over were all using genomancers to build armies of their own.

Medea was comfortable in her lab, and she would have stayed there given the choice. She was one of the few who still had a job, now that most of the world’s occupations had been automated away, and she lived a life of relative luxury. But she didn’t count on being pulled into the machinations of two of the biggest corporations on the planet.

And she didn’t count on meeting Jason.

Jason was a shareholder, one of the few, and wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of the masses. He was tall, handsome, and rich, and he could have lived an idle life of ease. He’d chosen to be a warrior instead. But his father had kept him from fighting any actual battles, and years of grueling training left him with disgust for anyone who’d stoop to using a genomancer to cut to the front of the line.

Now Jason’s father is dead, and things have changed. He’s been summoned by Pelias, the CEO of the Argo Corporation, and assigned to a dangerous mission in a strange land full of wonders. And he hasn’t been given a choice about who he’ll take with him: Medea. She was born in the city they’re heading to, and she’s indispensable to the mission. Now Jason is forced to protect someone he sees as a cheater, someone whose genetic shortcuts can only taint a warrior’s honor. He can’t stand her, and he can’t stand what she does for a living. But he’ll need her if he expects to survive the trials to come.

Can a warrior and a scientist find love despite the conflicts between them? How will the wonders of the past echo in the wonders of the future? What will people do to themselves when every bit of their genetic code can change in an instant? And will they still be human anymore when they’re done?

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  1. Greg

    I hear about a lot of retellings, but a Jason & the Argonauts retelling? Now that’s something I could get behind- sorry to hear this one didn’t work. The “seers” sounds like a neat angle. And the worldbuilding. The romance though- yeah that sucks. Bummer!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah the book would’ve been better if the romance hadn’t been… like that and if it hadn’t had those weird sexist things. But the retelling was cool, so not a total loss at least. I would love more Greek mythology retellings!

  2. Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra

    Well, that’s a bummer that this wasn’t a better read for you. I was intrigued by the idea of a Jason and the Argonauts retelling, but I’m pretty sure all of the sexism/misogyny would send me through the roof. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and letting me know this is one I should pass on.

  3. Tori @ InToriLex

    I’m not familiar with the Golden fleece smith, but sorry this sounds like a good concept with poor execution! Sexist stuff in good fantasy takes me completely out of the story

  4. verushka

    Well, boo. What a disappointing execution of this very cool premise — I mean, I think this might be the only Jason and the Argonauts retelling ever I’ve seen

  5. Daniela Ark

    haha it seems that the team behind this book should have read Broody! I wish you read non-fiction. I would love to hear your take on that book! It talks about things like this kinda romance. I think I would have never picked this book… and… ready? here comes my very mature reason why….The DNA image. I don;t know why covers with DNA turn me off. I SMH at myself often about my reader’s motivations XD

  6. Danya @ Fine Print

    As much as I love the idea of a futuristic Jason and the Argonauts retelling, this one is definitely not for me. I struggle with omniscient POV too because, like you said, it distances you from the characters. Throw in a very poorly executed romantic sub-plot feat. misogyny and this is a no-go. Sorry to hear this wasn’t more your speed!

  7. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I was all set to be like yes, this book sounds cool with such an interesting concept with machines taking over jobs and them messing and splicing DNA together, it all sounded awesome and then you mentioned the characters and it went downhill from there. An original enough sounding world with cool ideas but insta-love and some downright questionable attitudes to women and I am so not liking the sound of this book.

  8. sjhigbee

    A great review, Kristen – I really like the premise, but I’m REALLY not into romances where the woman goes weak-kneed over a bossy, unpleasant man – I ploughed through far too many of those when I was a girl, thank you very much! A shame as the world sounds intriguing.

  9. Stephanie Jane

    Shame about the sexism and instalove in this one. A Jason And The Argonauts retelling could be fun, but I don’t think this would be the one for me either!