Monday, July 1, 2013

Book Review: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters in a story that keeps you turning pages
Cons: Obvious formula to the plot
The Bottom Line
Characters, strong plot
Keep you turning the pages
And enjoying them




Percy Jackson Found!

After finishing the first book in the Heroes of Olympus series, I was both looking forward to and worried about how The Son of Neptune would play out.  At the end of the first book, those characters have figured out what has happened to Percy Jackson, and I was afraid that watching Percy figure it out would make for a slow, boring book.  Fortunately, that’s not the focus here, and I enjoyed this book as much as the first.

If you are confused already, that’s not a good sign.  Let me try to catch you up to speed.  Ancient Greek gods are real and still alive even in modern day America.  Percy Jackson is a teen demigod, the son of Neptune.  There was already a five book series that centered on him.  Heroes ofOlympuspicks up after that series ended and expands the universe author Rick Riordan has created.  To fully appreciate it and what happens here, you really do need to read those earlier books first.  But that’s not a problem because they are all fun.

Percy Jackson has no memory of his past at all except for the name Annabeth.  All he can remember is the last 8 months.  But something is drawing him to the hills around San Francisco.

What he finds there is Camp Jupiter, a Roman outpost in America.  The inhabitants are made up of demigods like himself who swear allegiance to the Roman side of the ancient gods.  They base their camp around Roman military outposts and the even have a Roman city where they can retire after serving the required number of years.

Percy arrives in mid-June and quickly finds himself falling in with Hazel and Frank, two demigods near his own age with secrets in their past.  The three of them are sent on a quest to free Death so that the monsters the demigods kill will once again die.  Will they live long enough to succeed?  What will the cost be to the three of them if they do?  And will Percy ever remember who he is?

Like the first book in this series, the chapters rotate with limited third person point of view from Percy, Hazel, and Frank.  Honestly, I still miss Percy’s narrative voice from the earlier series, but I like this technique because it allows us to truly get to know all three of the main characters.

Of course, Percy is already a known quantity to those of us who have followed his story all along.  And I love how his missing memory is handled here.  It’s not a driving force of the story, but the ways it develops are interesting and bring in characters we love for brief cameos.  Hazel and Frank are given plenty of time to develop here, and they are as strong as Percy by the end.  I love them and can’t wait to visit them in the next book.  And I love how this book, like the last in the series, shows how important good friendships truly are.  The bond the three share is wonderful.  There are other characters we get to know along the way, and all of them felt real.

There is definitely a formula to these books, and I wish that the author would find some way to break it.  Having said that, I still find these books highly entertaining and have a hard time putting them down.  I guess what I’m saying is the formula works, so it’s only a minor issue.  I care about the characters, and things are set up well, so between the two, it isn’t something I care too much about.

While there is plenty of drama and action, there is also some great humor to this book.  We meet the goddess Iris, and she is a hoot.  The climax, while still definitely exciting, provided plenty of laughs.  But my favorite section involves a major surprise about a major company based inSeattle.  The gags involved here, even as the characters are fighting for their lives, are wonderful.

Yes, you could start with The Son of Neptune, but it wouldn’t be nearly the same to you.  So start with the first book about Percy Jackson.  You’ll be reading this book before you know it.

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

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