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The Son of Neptune
by Rick Riordan


The first volume of The Heroes of Olympus series was reviewed here.
It is set in the same universe as Percy Jackson and The Kane Chronicles.
This review may contain spoilers for events in earlier books.


Once, Percy Jackson was the hero of Mount Olympus, but he cannot remember his past. He knows nothing about himself except his name, and nothing about his life save that monsters are constantly attacking – and even though he destroys them, they always come back to life. When he arrives at Camp Jupiter, it almost seems like he's finally come home, but something just isn't right. But he isn't there for long. When the god Mars appears and announces that Thanatos, god of death, has been chained in the land beyond the gods, Percy and his new friends Hazel and Frank are set on a quest to rescue Thanatos and fulfill an ancient prophecy.

I get that The Son of Neptune is a children's book, but sometimes it is just a little too precious. For example, the ancient Romans would sacrifice animals and read signs and oracles in the arrangement of their organs. I guess that's too gruesome for a book with young readers, so Riordan has his augur Octavian cut open toy animals and determine the future based on what he sees in the stuffing. That was ridiculous. I mean, this is a fairly violent book, with monsters and kids getting killed throughout. Why skimp on the violence for such a silly substitute?

But hooray! Percy Jackson is back. I do miss getting inside Percy's head, since he was the first-person narrator of his namesake series. Here, he's just one of several third-person narratives, and the intimacy and immediacy that made the other books so strong is lost. I might feel differently if I felt drawn to the new characters. Frank Zhang definitely fulfills the “bumbling sidekick” role, but his personal history was intriguing. He's Chinese, but also distantly descended from the Greek god Poseidon. I liked this little nod to history – traces of Greek influence on Asian sculpture hint that some Greek artisans may have made it to China. Hazel, on the other hand, is a girl from the 1940s who was brought back to life by a son of Pluto. She's utterly uncomfortable with the 21st century, which makes sense given she's sixty or seventy years behind the curve! But she spends so much time blacking out and trying to hide her past that I never quite warmed up to her.

It is nice to see that Riordan has continued to bring people of color into his stories. Most of the characters in the Percy Jackson series were white, but I think that with the exception of Jason Grace, all of Riordan's major additions to the team have been from a wide range of backgrounds, reflecting the modern diversity of the American population.

Two separate storylines were set up in The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune, but it's clear that the two casts will collide at the beginning of the third book in the series. I've already got The Mark of Athena waiting so I can continue the adventure!

4 out of 5 stars


To read more about The Son of Neptune, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.




Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Mirage by Nina Burleigh
2011: Contest: Tales of the Tudors Giveaway
2010: News: Books Into Library Furniture
2009: Giveaway #11: The Virgin's Daughters by Jeane Westin
2008: News: The End of Book Publishing as We Know It?

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
jeannietran
Oct. 23rd, 2013 03:17 am (UTC)
I miss Percy too, but I liked being able to see how others see Percy. You get a better sense of that in Mark of Athena. I also really HATE Octavian. He just gets more obnoxious. I thought the stuffed animal sacrifices were silly too, especially with how bloodthirsty everyone is. Maybe that's why I can't wrap my head around how quickly everyone is jumping to go to war and I don't believe they actually want to kill each other.

Sadly House of Hades is still sitting there untouched...
fashion_piranha
Oct. 23rd, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
Does Mark of Athena jump between six different narrators? I could see that getting really confusing, really fast.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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