by Rick Riordan
Set in the same universe as Riordan’s other two series, Percy Jackson and The Kane Chronicles
Jason wakes up one morning to find himself on a school bus with no memories. Sitting next to him are two people claiming to be his girlfriend and his best friend – but Jason’s pretty sure he’s never seen them before. They’re en route to the Grand Canyon for a school field trip – an adventure that goes horribly awry when the trio is attacked by storm spirits. Jason, Leo and Piper are revealed as demigods, and whisked away to a secret camp for the children of the gods. But even after the three of them have been claimed by their godly parents, something isn’t right. Most half-blood children have an intuitive understanding of Greek, but for Jason it’s Latin that comes naturally to his tongue. He knows the gods and goddesses by their Roman names, rather than their Greek names. Strangest of all, Jason can’t shake the feeling that he’s done all of this half-god training and questing before, but somewhere else - which is impossible! Camp Half-Blood is the only home for demigods…
The Lost Hero is the first in a five-book series that continues the adventures begun in the Percy Jackson series. Although Percy himself doesn’t make an appearance in the book, many of the other characters do – so if you’ve missed Chiron, Annabeth, and Thalia here’s your opportunity to visit them once more.
I’m not sure how much I like the three new characters. Jason is a little too perfect – in many ways, he seems a clone of Percy, but with the exception of his memory loss he has no flaws. Piper is a troubled girl acting out because she craves attention from her father; unlike most demigods she doesn’t embrace her divine parent and the powers she inherits from her. At first, Leo seems like your typical comic relief sidekick. He’s goofy and always cracking wise. But as we learn more about him, the character deepens into someone you really want to root for. He started out as annoying, but by the end of the book I was rooting for Leo more enthusiastically than Jason or Piper.
It’s interesting to trace the evolution of Riordan’s storytelling style. Percy Jackson was all first-person narrative; you’re in his head the entire time so you know exactly what he’s thinking and doing. The Kane Chronicles keeps the first-person perspective, but adds a second narrator, which helps round out story details because you’re no longer limited to the knowledge base of a single person. In The Lost Hero, Riordan moves into third-person narration, with each chapter focused on Jason, Piper or Leo. The immediacy of always being inside someone’s head is lost, and with it the speed and urgency of the story is sacrificed. Some of the fight sequences here felt drawn out and the dialogue didn’t flow as naturally as in previous books. But then again, it was nice to learn more about all the characters because the authorial voice isn’t trapped in a single source.
But by far the best part of this new series is the juxtaposition between Roman and Greek mythology. I mean, when I learned these gods in elementary school, Jupiter and Juno were described as ‘Zeus and Hera, just a little bit different’. Nobody ever went into the details of why and how they had changed from their earlier Greek counterparts. As a kid, I assumed this meant that they didn’t really change, but as an adult I can understand that the Roman culture had very different from values than the Greeks, and this would manifest in some pretty significant changes in the character of the gods. Riordan explores this theme very thoroughly throughout the book, and it’s very satisfying. For example, the warlike nature of Juno is very different from the jealous Hera exhibited in previous books, but the two aspects of the goddess share a powerful core that reminds readers that no one messes with the great mother goddess.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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