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Epic Road Quest Analysis

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A. Lee Martinez has written more than a dozen fantasy and science fiction novels, including his first novel Gil's All Fright Diner, which won the Alex Award in 2006 for its equal appeal to adults and young adults (“Booklists”). Helen & Troy’s Epic Road Quest is a madcap adventure that takes the concept of the classic middle ages heroes' quest like the legend of King Arthur and the Holy Grail and thrust it into a twenty-first century world where Orcs, Ogres, and other enchanted or cursed creatures live and work alongside humans and questing is a thing of the past. In the first chapter we’re introduced to Helen a seven-foot tall Minotaur girl with body image issues and Troy a Japanese-American boy who everyone thinks is the perfect hero, but…show more content…
But when the future of Helen and Troy’s relationship comes into play Martinez no longer holds our hands as we dip our toes in the cool water. Now we must sink or swim as Helen lays herself bare to the confines of society’s expectations when she says “We don’t live in a culture where regular guys, even amazing one, have seven-foot tall girlfriends…It’d be different with the genders reversed. Everybody gets beauty and the beast. But this thing between us, it’d be weird to most people” (256). The world we live in does not leave much room for difference and even less room for women. We are plunged into the depths of what it means to not fit in the box that society says is good and right, but like Troy our instincts urge us to deny everything, to assure ourselves that like questing this kind of social conformity is a thing of the past because we’ve moved beyond that right? However with astute timing Martinez knows exactly what we’re thinking, he knows we’re grasping at straws and he has to give us that one last push into the deep end to truly see us reflected back at ourselves when Helen states “…What happens when you want to introduce me to your parents? …Or you start losing friends because they’re not sure how to deal with your girlfriend? Do you…show more content…
We crave connection and the safety of sameness, so pushing back against that is an uphill battle. Helen doesn’t shy away from telling Troy how difficult a relationship between them could be and neither does Martinez because sometimes we have to ask the tough questions first before we can truly move towards change. A. Lee Martinez has done something truly remarkable in Helen & Troy’s Epic Road Quest; he’s created a story that is equal parts humor and adventure while weaving in a social commentary on the complexities of identity and social constructions ranging from gender and body image to race and prejudices. And its Martinez’s unique blend of humor and honesty in his exploration of these issues that we don’t see very often in other science fiction fantasy novels, which seem to seek to be dramatic, patriarchal, and overflowing with beautiful elves in a world far removed from our own
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