This is a review of Go the Distance by Jen Calinita, in the Twisted Tales Series. If you are familiar with the series then you know that each story will have a question that hints at what the implied twist for the Twisted Tale will be. For this story, the question is What if Meg had to become a Greek god?
So first things first, if you haven’t seen the 1997 animated Hercules from Disney, I suggest you start by watching it. Because Jen does a great job of capturing Meg’s persona from the movie and narrating the story through her perspective, this will set you up for a great read.
The book starts at the end of the Disney animated film. Hercules and Meg are lifted into the clouds of Mount Olympus where all the gods are ready to celebrate Hercules’ return. Just like in the movie the sad truth that Meg cannot join him on Mount Olympus is revealed and Hercules requests to stay on Earth with her. But unlike the movie, his father says no and that they need to say their goodbyes immediately.
This is when Hera offers Meg a deal, she will award Meg god status if she proves herself to be worthy. She will send Meg on a quest to fully experience and understand love, learn to be vulnerable and face her fear of it. She is tasked with completing this quest in ten days, which is a huge obstacle in itself.
Over the next ten days, Meg finds out what it feels like to trust and rely on others. She learns to be vulnerable and that it's not a weakness but an asset.
Throughout the journey, we are privy to flashbacks from Meg’s past, where we see her grow up from age five to adulthood. We are present for the fight that drives her father out of the home and causes Meg and her mother to flee the only home she’s known. This leaves Meg with a sense of never feeling at home, which is only increased when we witness her mother’s death. But also makes us privy to the origin of her favourite catchphrase.
The biggest part of her quest is centred around freeing the woman she thinks stole her boyfriend, Katerina, from the underworld.
But as it turns out time passes differently in the underworld, Aegeus (ex-boyfriend) didn’t leave her for Katerina. Meg had been gone for over 2 years as she aided Hades, although she thought she was only gone for a week (underworld time).
We find out that Aegeus moved on from Meg unwillingly, gets married and has a child with Katerina. This feels like a great personal cost to Meg but is all part of her quest, learning to be happy for others as part of her journey of understanding love.
The biggest lesson that Meg learns along the way is self-acceptance and that true love is being willing to ask for/ accept help from those you care about. She learns that it's okay to depend on others, it's important to trust those you love.
An interesting subplot that gets introduced in the final chapters of the book is the love story of Hades and Persephone. This plays a key role in how Meg escapes the underworld and makes the hard choice to give up any chance she has at making it to Hercules in time, to help them have a chance at being together.
When Meg is successful in saving Katerina, she is greeted by the whole gauntlet of people she got help from along the way. Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, Phil, Pegasus and Aegeus.
The unfortunate thing is that Meg’s time has run out and although Katerina is saved she believes herself unable to become a god and be with Hercules forever. But as a thank you for saving Katerina, she is allowed to say goodbye to Hercules.
In that moment, Hera sees how much Meg has grown and how much she loves Hercules. She says that Meg has shown that she possesses the true heart of a hero, so she will allow Meg to become a god. The god of vulnerability. This is so satisfying for me as that after all was said and done, this didn’t just turn into another Greek tragedy. Meg finally got the happy ending she deserved!
In the epilogue, it is revealed that saving Katerina is so important because she needed to be there to raise her and Aegeus’ daughter Cassia. The gods have big plans for her to become a great hero, and for that to happen she needs a mother. (Something Disney often takes away from our classic heroines)
A Note from the Author:
Thank you for reading I hope you enjoyed my very brief review of an action-filled adventure that tackles relatable issues for many women in this modern world. Up next on my possible review list will be Maze Runner. So please let me know what you think of this review and if you have any recommendations of what I should read/ review next!