Hercules has been one of my favourite Disney films since it was released almost 25 years ago (wow, that makes me feel old!). It it so underrated, it's criminal - it's funny, the soundtrack is quite possibly Disney's best ever (the gospel style is so unique and catchy) and the characters are amazing. When I spotted on someone else's Bookstagram (thanks @megsmadbookshelf) that the newest Disney Twisted Tale was about the Greek gang, I instantly headed to Amazon to buy a copy.
Go The Distance picks up exactly where the Disney film leaves off: Hercules decides to give up his immortality on Mount Olympus for a mortal life with Meg on Earth, only this time Zeus is having none of it and forbids Hercules from leaving with Meg. The story focuses on Meg's quest to become a goddess so that she can spend an eternity with her 'Wonder Boy'. The whole thing felt like a very realistic continuation of a much-loved story.
Meg's characterisation is spot on - she opened with the expected sass and snark that anyone familiar with the film has already come to love (she was always my favourite character in that movie). This attitude remains in place to some extent throughout the story, but we also get an opportunity to see that these personality traits are a bravado to cover some deep-seated issues from her past that the film never would have had the chance to explore (but did hint at). Through flashbacks to her relationships with her parents and the man who scorned her into her resulting deal with Hades, it becomes clear that Meg is on the ultimate self-preservation mission and refuses to rely on anyone other than herself; it's really interesting to follow her as she tries to marry that up with being in love with Hercules. As part of this, I was really pleased to see that Meg had some doubts to deal with when it came to deciding to whether or not she actually wanted to spend an eternity with Hercules - it felt like a very honest and mature way to handle Disney's now much-maligned happy-ever-after trope.
While Meg is the main focus of the story, I also enjoyed the opportunity to revisit some of the film's other characters - namely Phil and Hades. Phil was much of a muchness, but I liked watching how his relationship with Meg might have developed if given more time. Hades was afforded a new depth as part of this story and it was intriguing to see how the villainous acts he committed balanced with the more human traits he was gifted by the author. Above all of this, what I really loved was the introduction of some new Mount Olympus inhabitants to the plot - Hera, Athena, Aphrodite and Persephone were all fantastic additions and I adore that the author chose to focus on female deities.
I have read other reviews for this book that complain about the juvenile style of writing and, while I can see where they are coming from, I have to say it didn't bother me. I picked this book up knowing that it was primarily aimed at young adults, so I expected the language to be a little less mature than my usual fare. From my point of view, it just made the book easier to read in one sitting.
And that's exactly what I did - it was delivered by the mailman, started and finished all on the same day. I really relished my short foray back into the world that I adored as a child and appreciate this underrated Disney classic getting a bit of attention again.
Hercules has regained his godship, but Zeus tells Meg she can't be with the hero because she's, well, mortal. Luckily, Hera has a solution that would see Meg join Hercules on Mount Olympus as a goddess.
The quest? To rescue Meg's ex-boyfriend's wife from the Underworld. The same ex who left her while she was trapped by Hades. Can Meg defeat monsters and gods alike and finally put her past behind her? Or will her fear of commitment have her running away from an eternity of goddess-hood with Herc?
You can buy the book here now. It was published by Autumn Publishing.