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A rocky start to this series
on 21 September 2013
I have to say, coming off the high of The Last Olympian, this book is plain and simple: a letdown.
Let's start, however, with the positives. I was immediately ecstatic when I started reading because Riordan had decided to switch to third person narrative. I've always been a bigger fan of this style of writing, and here it did the story justice as well. The immediate result is a tone that just seems a lot more mature, and that suits the story because the characters are now in the later teen years.
Riordan stuck to his winning formula, but honestly the sixth time... He's walking a thin line - kind of getting repetitive. I'm fully aware however that my exhaustion with the formula is due to me reading all of these Riordan books in a row. However, that was never an issue with, for example, Harry Potter.
Although the story started slow, the last quarter of it definitely picked up and made up for some of the...shortcomings.
Now, I may have ruined this book for myself by reading at a slow pace (averaging 10% per day), but hey, exams are next week, give me a break. But whether or not that be the reason, I just could not connect to these characters. They're plucked out of nowhere, no introduction at all, and honestly during the whole book all I'm thinking is "Where is Percy?" "What's Annabeth doing?" "Can they meet up already?" I had no patience for these new characters. I couldn't relate to them, but I can't put my finger on why. At the end, Leo is the only one of the new "main" characters that I thought was sort of cool. He'd really be cool if he stopped thinking that every girl that comes along is hot. Piper annoys the HELL out of me because she's... she's like the damsel in distress, Mary Sue character, but then they try to make her better than that by giving her mindbending powers? But no actual fighting strength? And honestly, reading her POV, her convictions aren't that strong anyway. In the first half of the book I just wanted to halfway strangle her because of the teenage angst. I like my female characters to be good for something. But hey, she's Aphrodite's daughter. Surprise, surprise. And Jason. I don't want to be so hard on him because he lost his memories, but the result of that is that he became a completely stiff and static character. Even now, having finished the book, I have no idea how I would describe him or his personality, and that to me is a sign that you haven't fleshed out your characters enough.
That all being said, I think the multiple POV style probably contributed to not being able to connect to them. Multiple POV to me is such a disjointed writing style and the result is I don't have a grasp or true liking of any of the characters. Although, since the three characters were still there, together, for all the events, Riordan did multiple POV better than some other books I've read recently. However, I do still think it was unnecessary! Honestly, if the whole book had been from Jason's POV I think it would have been much better. I'd gladly read the thoughts of someone desperately grasping for any hints of his old memories and who he truly is. That sounds way more appealing than what we ended up with here. And that may have enabled me to like a couple of the characters more. (Never not never ever need to read Piper's POV.)
The story itself seemed a bit contrived... I can't help it. I mean, at the beginning they're given a prophecy to save Hera and then the whole journey long they just think about saving Piper's dad. I get it, that's important too, and it would be heartless not to. But you know, when the result is that at the end they were JUST A BIT too late to stop Porphyrion from rising.... it's just... Exhausting. Also, all the constant hinting, "Oh, it's forbidden to speak of this, I swore on the River Styx" "You must find out for yourself, or it will have no meaning" - it's a requirement for these fantasy/adventure books, I know, but after 50th time, you start wanting to bang your head against the wall.
The ending just completely killed the book. I mean, it wasn't a surprise. Honestly, if you hadn't figured it all out yet by like halfway through the book, you weren't paying attention. But when it's just written like that: Percy's in the Roman camp. He has to prove himself to aggressive Roman demigods. And he probably has no memories whatsoever. My reaction: UMMM CAN THIS BOOK BE REDONE FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE THEN? Seriously. I feel like his story would be SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING than this one.
Ultimately, I think for one: I should have read this book more continuously to be able to enjoy it. My fault, I admit. But furthermore: it rushed into the story, introducing characters I had absolutely no idea about and just kept me from connecting. For this book I was really on the outside, looking in, and that left way too many opportunities to roll my eyes at the characters, their actions and their thoughts. That was never a problem during Percy Jackson & the Olympians. I will, however, continue with the series. I'm not giving up here. Despite the issues I had with it, it wasn't all bad, hence the 3.5 rating. I firmly believe that once Percy comes around I will truly enjoy it again. And the prophecy sounds interesting enough.
Recommended for: fans of Percy Jackson.