Tag Archive: Rick Riordan

(Way, way, way overdue I know…it’s been sitting in my comp for two months. But here you go.)

The Heroes of Olympus #2: Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Ages 12 and up

In The Lost Hero we learned of Camp Jupiter, the Roman counterpart of Camp Half-Blood. In a desperate attempt to save Olympus, Hera had switched the leaders of the two camps, Percy Jackson and Jason Grace. Jason has been at Camp Half-Blood helping the Greeks, and now it’s time for Percy to make an appearance on the other side of the continent. Percy resurfaces with almost no memory of who he was. Of course, that doesn’t keep the usual brand of trouble from following him. Apparently, that Death has been taken hostage by the giants and until he is released, killing the monsters is going to be impossible. And it seems that the gods can find no better guy for the job than an amnesiac Greek demigod. After only a few hours at Camp Jupiter, Percy and his newfound friends set off on a journey to a land where the god’s power may not even reach.

I know, it’s short and sweet. But seriously, I’m not sure how much I trust myself to tell you. Now, I’m not saying that I have a favorite author. That’s just not a choice I’d be able to stick to for more than a few minutes. However, Rick Riordan ranks very close to the top, so naturally I was more than a little ecstatic when this book came out. And it was was almost (I’ll get to that) everything I could have hoped it would be.

Now, if you know me (or have read my blog), you would know that I have had a thing for Greek mythology since I was a little girl. That is what got me into the Percy Jackson books for the first time. (Okay, that and the movie trailer reminding me that I kept meaning to read them.) So I won’t deny that that is part of why I love these books. Riordan does more than just retell the Greek and Roman myths (and sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which), he reimagines them. He takes them and changes them is a way that his readers will recognize, while still keeping them true to their original character. For example, he takes the Amazons and turns them into business moguls funding their way of life through a company even children will recognize in this day and age, Amazon.

I didn’t figure it out until about halfway through, but there are several parallels between this book and the original Percy Jackson books. Not that I will tell you what they are (or maybe this amnesia thing is clouding my view). But, considering that his missing memory is constantly on Percy’s mind, I think that making him go through trials that the readers would recognize—even if it was only subconsciously—was a beautiful touch.

The characters in Rick Riordan’s books (I’m talking about all three mythology series here) have always been some of my favorites. I love them. They bounce of the page and come alive. You feel like you know them, like they’ve been your friends (or enemies) for ages. I could totally see myself hanging out with Annabeth and talking about books for hours. His characters, even the minor ones, so often have distinct characteristics that define them and make them different from all the others around them.

That little “almost” up at the top has probably been bothering you for three whole paragraphs. It boils down to one small fact. The book was great, I loved it. I can’t wait for the next one (The Mark of Athena Fall 2012). In fact, I’m already excited about the next one, all things considered (if you know, you know). However, despite how much I love him and how great I imagine he looks in a purple t-shirt (C’mon ladies, you know you were thinking about it too), Percy Jackson is not in fact my favorite character in the books. He is hair’s breadth close, but he is not. My favorite character sadly, has a very small part in this book…though I think I can bet on seeing a lot more of [redacted] in the next book. (It’s kind of a given.)

All of this, the characters, the mythology, the settings, the crazy, twisting plot that he seems to come up with—all of these things are used to create a book that keeps moving right up to that very last page. No joke, I’m pretty sure that my heart stopped for about five seconds when I turned page 513 and realized that the twenty or so pages that were left were actually the glossary and several black pages. Had my whole family not been asleep, I probably would have yelled. It’s a brilliant ending, but it doesn’t stop you from feeling like you’ve been thrown off a cliff. (Cause obviously, with three books left, we still have the world and Olympus to save.)

This a good example of:

  • Multiple POVs
  • Raising the stakes
  • Reimagining vs. retelling
  • Characters
  • Story Movement

First off: Congratulations to last week’s winner, Mariajose. Who will be receiving her very own copy Heist Society by Ally Carter in the mail just as soon as she gets me her address.

And now, on to this week’s book: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. For those of you who’ve never heard of Percy Jackson, keep reading. If you’ve had your eye on this series for a while (or you already love the series) just skip the italic bits and get to the good stuff.

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology text book and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves. (Disney Hyperion)

If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning…or really, for the last few months…you’re probably aware of some of the authors that I just adore: Scott Westerfeld, Lauren DeStefano, Suzanne Collins, Eoin Colfer, Cassandra Clare (oh, wait, I haven’t told you about her yet), Ally Carter. The list is rather long.

Rick Riordan is somewhere near the top. Like way high up there.

His Percy Jackson series is currently my most battered and beloved set of books. I’m addicted. I love Percy. I love Annabeth. I love Grover. I even love Clarisse on occasion.

I picked them up one January day, right before the movie came out (because, when possible, I prefer to read the book first).

And I could not put them down.

Seriously, I made a late night run to Barnes & Noble just to get The Last Olympian, because I could not stand just hanging where The Battle of the Labyrinth had left me. I was addicted. And I still am.

And thankfully, he didn’t stop with Last Olympian. Anything of Riordan’s that I can get my hands on, I devour. I’d probably show up to purchase his shopping list if he published it.

And it’s not just because his writing jives with my own sense of humor. Or that his characters are so memorable and fun. Or that his plots are not what I would expect from a borderline YA (actually, it’s more middle grade, but I don’t care). Nor is it the fact that I have loved Greek mythology since I was eight.

He has taken something that I love, something that I am utterly familiar with, and he has done more than retell the stories. He has reinvented them with the humor and the characters and the plot.

The Lightning Thief is the first book I bring up when I hear someone reads. It’s the first book that I recommend when someone is looking for something to read. It’s the book that I gave as birthday presents to my two best friends. I reread this series often, because I love it and because it just makes my day happier to dive into Percy’s world. I think, if I could live in any of the books that I have read, this is the one I would choose (unless, of course, I could be an elf in Middle-Earth).

You can bet that when Son of Neptune comes out, I will have scraped all of my pennies together and will be waiting on the sidewalk, for my Barnes & Noble to open so that I can take my copy home and read it. Or at least, I’ll go over right after work.

And this wonderful experience can be yours too. There is a copy of The Lightning Thief sitting on my bookshelf, waiting for someone to comment below and win it. Tell me about an author that you absolutely adore, or one that you’ve followed forever…but make sure you do it by 5 p.m. EST on September 22nd. And if you’d like extra entries into the contest, try one of the three ways below (all of which will get you entered into this week and next week’s drawings):

  1. Follow me on Twitter. Make sure you put your Twitter handle in your comment so that I know to give you the credit.
  2. Help spread the word. Comment on another of my blog posts and then post the link to Twitter (or facebook). Just make sure you give me the link (or tag me if you choose Twitter).
  3. Subscribe! This one will earn you not one, but two entries into the next two drawings!

Throne of Fire

Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

Ages 12 and up

In the series’ first book, The Red Pyramid, we meet Carter and Sadie Kane. Long separated siblings brought together on Christmas Eve by their dad. They are quickly sucked into a world that they never knew existed, the world of ancient Egyptian gods. Through the first book, Sadie and Carter learn to work together as they try to save their father from a face worse than death–only to discover that things are even worse than they originally expected. Apophis, the lord of Chaos, is rising and he is bent on world destruction. Three months later, we start The Throne of Fire. Sadie and Carter have started training other young magicians at Brooklyn house (they stay away from Manhattan, it apparently has other immortal problems *cough Olympians cough cough*). We find them right in the middle of a museum heist as they try to locate the three pieces of the book of Ra. They only have five days to find all the pieces and perform the ritual to awaken the senile sun god, Ra. Otherwise, Apophis will break free from his prison and the world will have no defense strong enough to put him back in his place and keep Ma’at in balance. With a cast of new characters as well as the beloved old ones, they set off to save the world from Chaos.

I remember when I first heard about The Red Pyramid. I had just finished the Percy Jackson series and adored it. So my first reaction was “He’s doing the same thing with Eyptian mythology? AWEsome!” I would have been perfectly happy with an Eygptian version of Percy Jackson. Every word would have eagerly devoured and just as thoroughly enjoyed. But for Riordan, that wasn’t enough. He didn’t rely on the same old concept with the Kane Chronicles, he came up with a slightly different one on that fit the mythology of Egypt so much better. And I love it. Throne of Fire delves even deeper into the Egyptian myths. We are introduced to new gods (Well, new for us. They’re actually very, very old). Each one is just as colorful and unique as the ones in the first book. Even the minor characters, the ones you only see for a page or two, are memorable.

One my favorite things about Rick Riordan’s books is how well he does first person narrative. With two narrators! The Kane Chronicles are told from both Carter and Sadie’s views. They take turns narrating the story (sometimes peacefully, sometimes not so much) into a tape recorder just as it was narrated in the first book. Sadie and Carter both have distinctive voices, so that even without having the current narrator’s name at the top of each page, I knew who was talking (Sadie’s British upbringing helps with that). And we get these funny little asides as they fight over the microphone/details of the story.

Riordan is really great about hooking you and drawing you into a greater plot. First in the sense of the plot over a series, he has this trick of creating a “minor’ bad guy to focus on in the first book before dangling a greater, world-ending threat at the very end so that you’re dying for next book. It works beautifully, he creates a sense of anticipation with making me want to tear my hair out from the suspense. Secondly, he jumps you right into the action. There is always a brief segment at the beginning where the main character (0r one of them) sets the stage and then BAM! They hit you with a hook that is pure brilliance (I believe the one in TOF had something to do with setting Brooklyn on fire).

I almost wish that I had something bad to say or something to be critical about, then this would seem a lot less like overeager brown-nosing. But my only problem with this book is that it ended and now I have to wait until next May for the third and final volume (Though Son of Neptune will help with that).

His sense of odd ball humor (think magic penguins, weasel cookies, and flying wombats) is fun and refreshing and just different enough from the humor he displays in Percy Jackson and the Olympians to make it distinct. It’s what makes his books so darn lovable. There are moments you can’t breathe for laughing. This is not a book you can read quietly. The chapter titles alone had me in stitches. Revenge of Bullwinkle the Moose God anyone? (Actually he’s a ram, but Sadie doesn’t seem to care.) Part of this humorous approach is what makes the minor characters so memorable. I only saw a few pages with nine-year-old Felix, but I remember him because he has a penchant for solving his problems with penguins.

Of course, it isn’t all giggles and laughs. After all, we are facing the end of the world as we know it. We have to watch as lives are given to save the world, because what Egyptian apocalypse would be complete without self-sacrifice? And Sadie and Carter are not always on the best of terms. They are two stubborn, decisive children who have to work through their differences to work together–and sometimes their fights have consequences. But they are still a team and they do still love each other. It helps to lend a sense of realism to a story that is completely fantastical, transforming it into something believable.

All in all, this book was a blast to read. I wish I could say that I couldn’t put it down, however, life did call and I had to put it down. Never willingly though. I have a feeling that just as with the Percy Jackson books, this is a book that I will return to time and time again. And force on my children someday, when I have some.

This is a good example of:

  • Distinct first person narrative
  • Switching between viewpoints
  • Fitting pieces into a larger plot
  • Character development
  • Good minor characters
  • Brilliant humor
This book is on my recommended reading list.

I don’t know if it’s just because I’m weird or if it’s a common thing, but cliffhanger endings and the waiting aside, I love it whenever a series that I’ve been following comes out with a new book. Something about the suspense, the rush of seeing the promotional material, the bubbly feeling when you finally see it on the bookstore shelves and the joy of the clerk handing you your newly bought book (or the librarian) is just fun for me. My friends will tell you, I have been caught drooling of the Throne of Fire posters and I will probably be doing the rounds to find a friend that has finished it and will let me borrow it (little strapped for cash right now).

Here are some of the books that I am just counting down the days until I can hold them (and maybe take them home, we’ll see)

  • The Kane Chronicles #2: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan: Comes out May 3rd (eeeek!). I think most of you will have figured out that I am a fan of all things related to RR. And he’s got two big ones coming out this year (more on that later). In the first book, he did for the Egyptian mythos all of the wonderful things that he did in the Percy Jackson books. Cannot wait for the TTF to come out!
  • Heist Society #2: Uncommon Criminals: Comes out June 21. Okay, so maybe the first book is still sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. But it’s by Ally Carter, so that means it’s pretty much literary gold from my point of view. And while I’d much rather be putting GG5 on this list, I suppose this will have to do. ;D
  • The Heroes of Olympus #2: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan: Comes out October 4 (Cover reveal May 25). I don’t care what anyone says about this series not being Percy Jackson books…People, these books are Percy Jackson books. Just read them and you’ll see. SON will have me parked outside the bookstore waiting for them to open the doors just so I can get my hands on a copy. I mean, I’ve only been looking forward to this for to come out since  I finished The Lost Hero.
  • Beka Cooper series #3: Mastiff: Comes out October 25. I just recently got into this series and I have to say, Tamora Pierce doesn’t disappoint…ever. I’ve been following her since I was seventeen. And I can’t wait to see how she concludes this one.
  • The Inheritance Cycle #4: Inheritance: Comes out November 8. I know, took him long enough. I remember when Eldest came out I was SO excited. Here we are three years later and I’m considerably less excited for the final book. I’m kinda ready for this to be over…but still, I do enjoy his books. They’re just not as urgent feeling anymore.
That’s it. That’s the list so far. If I hear of anything else exciting (that I’ve read) I’ll put it down.
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