First Published: 2011
Pages: 519 including Glossary (Paperback)
Series: Heroes of Olympus #2
Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, god of the sea, has woken from a deep sleep and come face to face with two snake-haired ladies who refuse to die.
But they’re the least of his problems. Because Percy finds himself at a camp for half-bloods, which doesn’t ring any bells for him. There’s just one name he remembers from his past. Annabeth.
Only one thing is certain – Percy’s questing days aren’t over. He and fellow demigods Frank and Hazel must face the most important quest of all: the Prophecy of Seven. If they fail, it’s not just their camp at risk. Percy’s old life, the gods and the entire world might be destroyed . . .
Yay! Percy’s back! And he’s still awesome. Just in the first chapter I felt myself enjoying the book more than I had at any point in The Lost Hero. There’s the fun and goofiness I like. With Percy there to play off rather than boring boringface Jason, the monsters instantly became more memorable and unique. I have to confess I can barely remember a single ‘random encounter’ from The Lost Hero but Stheno, the gorgon who set up a font as a supermarket worker and has ‘gone native’, chasing heroes around offering free samples, will definitely stick in my mind. For the first few chapters things were well on track for a five star read.
Unfortunately, as soon as Percy reached Camp Jupiter for Roman demigods things slooowed right back down again. With the introduction of not only two major new characters but several important minor ones and a whole new way of demigod life, the action falls a bit by the wayside in favour of explanation and character backstories and flashbacks. The next monster encounter doesn’t actually happen until past the 200 page mark. And it’s interesting – I wanted to see how Roman camp worked and I like Frank and Hazel about a hundred times more than Piper and Jason (Leo still rocks) – but it does really screw up the pacing. Even once the three heroes set out on their quest, it takes a pretty long while to regain the momentum of those early chapters or any of the original Percy Jackson books. Only towards the end did I really start to feel that the book was unputdownable again.
It’s probably a bit of a necessary evil though. I imagine now that Jason, Piper, Leo, Frank, and Hazel have all been introduced, the pacing of the next few books in the series will flow much better without the need to keep flashing back to each character’s childhood every couple of chapters. I hope so anyway because much as Frank and Hazel’s backstories were interesting, it did begin to feel a bit formulaic; adventure time, adventure time, someone says something to Frank to trigger a SUDDEN AND RELEVANT CHILDHOOD MEMORY, adventure time, adventure time, Hazel’s turn for a SUDDEN AND RELEVANT CHILDHOOD MEMORY, Percy sits, watches, and reckons they would make a great couple. Does every book in this series need a love story? And how come adventure trios are always two guys, one girl? Props to Riordan for continuing with the character diversity though – after a mostly white (or no race mentioned) cast in the Percy Jackson series, Heroes of Olympus is full of HoC (heroes of colour) being relatable and normal teenagers (minus the crazy child of a god backstories). But really, I do kind of hope the next books take place more in the present. It’s ambitious enough for Riordan to introduce five major new protagonists to an established canon in just two books, but their backstories are really making the pacing drag.
But onto the story. Monsters are becoming impossible to kill, reforming almost as soon as they are destroyed, and an army of them is massing to destroy Camp Jupiter. Percy and his new best friend’s have to travel to Alaska and release the death god, Thanatos, from the giant who has taken him prisoner before the monster army annihilates the Roman demigods. It’s a ‘rescue the god/goddess by this date’ plot that Percy Jackson fans’ll be pretty familiar with by now and there’s lots of fun adventures along the way, even if it does take a while to really gain momentum after the interval at Camp Jupiter. Personally, I particularly liked Amazon being run by Amazons – and especially when there was an Amazon called Lulu there as well! Amazons are my faaaavourite – well, maybe not, I have a lot of favourites, but I do love them.
Although I didn’t love this book unconditionally, I really enjoyed it. After a slightly lukewarm middle I thought the ending was great, especially as it included the return of one of my favourite characters. I’m probably judging this book a little harshly because it’s Riordan and I know what he’s capable of but third person narration isn’t his strongest style. It is a very good book. And I look forward to the next one (yes I know it’s out already but I’m not buying it until it’s a paperback) and to seeing not only the Percy-Annabeth reunion (yay!) but an adventure told, at least partly, from Annabeth’s perspective. True, I’ll have to put up with Jason and Piper again, but with five other far more awesome characters to share the attention I have some hopes that they will have less chance to annoy me.