Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Book Review: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & the Olympians #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good characters in an engrossing story
Cons: Formulaic plot
The Bottom Line
A friend in danger
Face to face with a Titan
Percy's fans will love

Questing to Save Annabeth

"The Friday before winter break, my mom packed me an overnight bag and a few deadly weapons and took me to a new boarding school."  And with those words we are thrust into The Titan's Curse, the third in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.

Percy was your average middle schooler living in modern day New York City until he learns the truth about his father.  Turns out the ancient Greek gods are real and still in control of Earth.  Percy is the son of one of the big three, Poseidon.  As he is coming to terms with this truth, he learns that the Titans, whom the gods overthrew in ancient times, are rising again.  Plus, there's a prophecy that might pertain to Percy and mean certain doom for him and his new godly family.

This book finds Percy setting out with his friends Annabeth and Thalia to free two more demigods that have recently been identified at a military boarding school in Maine.  But the rescue attempt is a trap, and before it is all over, Annabeth has been kidnapped.

Percy retreats to Camp Half Blood while he tries to figure out how to save his friend.  But when her location is determined, he is told in no uncertain terms he is not going.  Will Percy find a way to save Annabeth anyway?

It could easily be argued that there is a formula to these books, and the second one definitely fell into that trap.  However, the story started so quickly that I was most of the way done before I even realized it was following the same outline as the first two.  And, since most of the books I read are rather formulaic, I really didn't mind.  The pace is quick, and the climax left me satisfied that all is okay in Percy's world...for now.  There is definitely a final confrontation coming between the gods and the Titans, and this book adds to this ongoing story very nicely.

Sadly, we didn't get to see much of Annabeth in this book, for obvious reasons.  Fortunately, Percy and his satyr friend Grover are both here and in fine form.  We meet several new characters, and I liked how they were developed.  One in particular interests me, which is fortunate since he will obvious be back in future books.

One complaint I have heard leveled against this series is Percy's lack of knowledge about Greek mythology.  It's natural in the first book since he didn't know who his father is.  I will agree that in real life, Percy would have learned all he could about his new family on his father's side.  However, this plot device works quite well for us since other characters can explain the needed mythology to Percy (and therefore us).  I have a hard enough time keeping the Greek gods straight for any length of time, so this allows me to learn what I need for that section of the book without needing a reference book next to me.

The book is aimed at late elementary school and older readers, and it would work for them perfectly.  I found the friendly first person narration engrossing, and it never pushed me out of the story.  My guess is the target age group wouldn't read it quite as fast, but they should have no problems with it at all.

The Titan's Curse manages to advance the overall story will providing a satisfying stand-alone story.  Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing where Percy's adventures take him next.

Here is a listing of both series in the complete Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus sagas in order.

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