Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordian

If you're reading this, like me, you may have already read and loved the popular (but well-deserving) Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordian, cleverly blending ancient Greek myth and the modern day. When I first read the last page of the last book in the five-part series, I wouldn't have guessed that the story would continue.

Well, it did.

Imagine you've just woken up one day with no memory but your first name. You don't know where you come from, who you are, and what you're doing where you are now. Then you can imagine being Jason. Jason, after his famous namesake in Greek mythology, has just opened his eyes to find himself on a school bus with people, maybe even friends he can't remember, holding hands with a girlfriend, Piper McLean, he's never seen before in his life. Her and Leo Valdez, somebody who had supposedly been Jason and Piper's friend, are convinced beyond a doubt that Jason is one of the students who had become friends with them at the Wilderness School, a school for what Leo calls "troubled kids". Only Gleeson Hedge, the school coach who keeps order with a baseball bat, knows that Jason is, well, unusual. (This may be helped by the fact that Hedge is strange himself.) 

But before the Coach can, or will, explain much, things begin to go wrong on a field trip to the Grand Canyon and him, Leo and Piper are whisked off (via pegasi) to a place Annabeth, the one who took them there, calls Camp Half-Blood. "A place for kids like us." It's only when they get there that they begin to understand: 'kids like us' translates to 'demigods'. The Greek myths of old are very much alive and part of us.  Annabeth's boyfriend, Percy, has disappeared without a trace. And a prophecy from last summer, right after the Titan War ended, has set in motion. The next Great Prophecy, and it may be even more dangerous than the first. And Jason, Piper and Leo are all a part of it.


If anything, I think that this next series, the Heroes of Olympus, may be even better than the first. It delves deep into some of the more obscure references and stories in Greek and sometimes even Roman myth (such as the Boreads, Gaea (the Greek equivalent of Mother Earth), King Midas, and others), as well as creatively incorporating events and, more importantly, characters from the previous PJO series. The new, fresh cast of characters share the same witty, funny attitude similar to the people we know and love (and sometimes even hate) from Percy Jackson, while retaining interesting and very individual personalities. Riordian also begins to introduce the Roman side of these myths, which begins to play a bigger and bigger part in the books as the series progresses.

One thing I found annoying about this (and the sequel, Son of Neptune), and an opinion that is probably not a problem for many other readers, was as the characters are now in the 15-16 age range, romance plays a stronger part in the books than in the original series. For example, Piper, who turns out to be a brave and skilled fighter, still thinks about all the little ways she thinks Jason, the boyfriend she never had, is 'cute', almost to the point where I want to take the book and smack myself on the forehead a couple times out of sheer frustration. While this aspect isn't quite enough for me to dock an entire point off this awesome book's rating, it's still rather annoying to me (however necessary it might be, as this is a book about characters who are mainly in their older teens, and Riordian knows his age groups pretty well), though others would probably welcome it.

All in all, this is a highly recommended book. (It isn't absolutely necessary to read Percy Jackson and the Olympians first, but highly advised that you do so if you haven't already. Not only is it good, but you'll understand this one a lot better if you do.) I literally learned all I know about Greek and Roman myth from Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus, and in the most fun way possible. Read these books; you'll thank me later.

Four and 3/4 stars (I take this rating thing very seriously.)
-Yani (more on me later)

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