Percy Jackson Returns in The Son of Neptune
- Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Author: Rick Riordan
Last year Rick Riordan, author of the popular Percy Jackson books, returned readers to the familiar world of Greek mythology with his new series The Heroes of Olympus.
Debuting with The Lost Hero, Riordan's fans arrived once again in Camp Half-Blood where they discovered three new heroes (Jason, Piper, and Leo) and learned that the old protagonist, Percy Jackson, was missing. By book's end, evil giants were rising to destroy the Olympians, a magical camp dedicated to ancient Rome had been uncovered, and "The Prophesy of The Seven" was in full swing. Still, readers were left with one question: Where was Percy?
At long last, readers will find their answer in The Son of Neptune as longtime hero Percy Jackson returns to captain the next chapter in Riordan's series. The book opens with Percy fighting his way to the fabled Camp Jupiter in California. With no memory of his past and only vague promises from Juno about his future, Percy reluctantly joins the mythical legion that protects the camp from outside threats.
There, he befriends Hazel, a daughter of Pluto and underworld escapee, as well as Frank, the muscle-bound son of Mars renowned for his clumsiness. Per usual in Riordan's series, it doesn't take long for these three to be issued a quest, and soon the trio is speeding toward Alaska with a new mission: Find the imprisoned god Thanatos, free him, and return in four days, or the world as we know it will end.
Riordan is well known for his ability to weave ancient mythology into the modern era, and The Son of Neptune does not disappoint. Readers won't be able to resist laughing when they discover monsters posing as Bargain Mart greeters, or that the web company Amazon.com is run by actual Amazons.
Riordan also has a talent for dialogue that is showcased throughout his new novel. Interaction between Percy, Frank, and Hazel is not only fun, it's believable, and the witty banter the trio engages in flows so naturally you almost forget these are fictional characters. Overall, the book is just plain fun to read, but unlike The Lost Hero, the ride through The Son of Neptune is a lot less smooth.
For starters, the setting is less detailed. After almost a year of anticipation and dropping hints about "Camp Jupiter", Riordan surprisingly gives very little depth to his new creation. Readers are given a basic description of the camp, using Latin terms most won't understand, and then suddenly it's off to Alaska, as if Camp Jupiter were nothing more than a rest stop on a long family vacation.
Adding to this is the book's pace. The entire story feels rushed, and you can't help but wonder if Riordan was in such a hurry to make a deadline that his stress translated into the book.
The final and most pressing problem is that Riordan has started to show an unwelcome repetition in his storylines. For example, in The Lost Hero, readers were introduced to an amnesic hero, Jason, a girl with a dark secret, Piper, and an orphaned boy with strange powers, Leo, as they went on a quest to free an imprisoned god.
The Son of Neptune falls into an identical mold with Percy, Hazel, and Frank taking on the same roles as their predecessors. The story is still fun, and there are enough differences that readers can overlook the similarity if they choose, but Riordan should be careful about leading fans down familiar roads. You can only repackage a product so many times.
The final grade for Son of Neptune is a B+. While it does come with a few old tricks, they are not enough to keep the story from being fun and entertaining. It's also nice to see series favorite Percy Jackson return as one of the main characters, and whatever your age, you won't be disappointed until the last page ends.
*This review first published 10/25/2011
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