This book was entertaining to read. It was filled with action and adventure, an interesting plotline and nice twists. Sure, it over-reaches a lot
, but it kept my attention to the end, and not all books are capable of that.
But it had many
shortcomings, and I just can't bring myself to give it a higher rating.
To start with, it's a bit of a disappointment, after the Percy Jackson series. Yes, I know, it's supposed to be a different series, and it's not fair for me to compare. Still, this is more like a sequel, with the same universe, many characters in common, and happening right after [b:The Last Olympian|4502507|The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5)|Rick Riordan|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327924597s/4502507.jpg|4551489], so it's almost impossible not to. I wasn't even that big a fan of Percy, but, since I thought the books were improving, with the last one being my favorite, I hoped that this one would be even better. Boy, was I wrong...
Unlike the Percy Jackson books, this one was more clearly aimed at a "young adult" audience, I'd say 15 upwards age grade. So far, so good, since one of the problems I had with Percy was that the books were condescending in their over-simplification and obviousness. But this book is just as obvious and over-simplified, it just has slightly older characters, AND more problems.
Unlike Percy, Annabeth and Grover, the characters are almost stereotypes. Piper is manic-pixie-dream-girl-slash-kickass-secondary-heroine: she doesn't wear makeup or dresses, but it doesn't matter because she's beautiful anyway (and, of course, what makes her beautiful is that she doesn't know she's beautiful... self-esteem is soooo unattractive, right?) she's not like all the other girls and competes ferociously with them for Jason's attention like that is her only reason of being AND she's awesome, and powerful, and can fight, but not
as well as her boyfriend; after all, her skills are only there to show off how awesome he
really is. Jason is strong-silent-tortured-boy, who can make girls' hearts melt with the angst in his eyes and absolutely cannot do wrong. Even Aphrodite, who keeps giving people makeovers (Piper, who is supposed to be her favored daughter who "really understands what Aphrodite is all about", gets TWO of them) makes it very clear that he's perfect as he is.
Leo is comic-relief-with-feelings, who offers jokes during or right after emotionally charged moments (or tries to, his efforts at humor are so unfunny they made me cringe) and has a sob story as background, but that seems to be used only to emphasize how much Piper and Jason are suffering. Mixing two stereotypes in a single character does NOT make it a well-written, deep character.
If the main characters are like this, what could you expect from the secondary ones? As "nemesis" in Camp Half-Blood, Percy had Clarisse, who was a compelling, three-dimensional character. Jason and Leo aren't shown interacting with other campers enough to have one, but Piper has Drew, who is... not. She is a classic female highschool bully, who only exists so Piper has to compete with her.
Good characters can carry a bad story. Bad characters will make a good story crash and burn. Luckily, this book had many good characters from the Percy Jackson series. Also, interestingly, some gods (ahem, goddesses) get a better treatment in this book, becoming better characters. I suspect this is what kept me going.
I actually enjoyed the change from 1st to 3rd person, from Percy Jackson to this book. In a lot of ways, it feels less phony, like an adult trying too hard to pretend to be a kid. Plus, on Percy Jackson, one of the things that bothered me the most was how obvious the characters' feelings and motivations were, with everything being spelled out in giant capital letters. It was very bizarre, especially since it was Percy himself doing the spelling. The third person masks it a little bit. It's still very obvious, but at least it's not bizarre.
A minor bother of mine: in the Percy Jackson series, Riordan made it very clear that the Titan's War would only affect Western civilization, since that's what the gods were latched on. This time, the consequences would, apparently, affect the entire world. If that's the case, why-oh-why didn't any gods from the Easter civilization appear? This would have been a wonderful opportunity to mix things up. For fuck's sake, Hinduism alone has thousands
of gods and monsters. It would have been fascinating to have them interact with the heroes. Islamism is a big part of Eastern civilization too, and how would Allah deal with that? And that's just citing two religions. Maybe there wouldn't be just one Eastern civilization pantheon, and it would be more divided. And in the West, how about Nordic mythology? Odin could be one of the facets of Zeus, and each god probably would have its own manifestation with them... But if you're going to separate Roman and Greek manifestations, I feel like this manifestation would probably be separate too. Why is this story limited to the Classics? Maybe I'll prove to be wrong, and this will happen in future books, but I doubt it. Like I said, it's a minor bother, but it does
bother me that so much potential should be wasted.
I realize this is the first book in the series, and being so, things are probably not fully developed yet. Hopefully, this issues will be solved, or at least eased, in future books. I'll keep reading them while they manage to hold my attention.