narfna’s #CBR5 Review #103: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

house of hadesPlot has taken over where character development used to be in Riordan’s writing. I suppose it was inevitable when he started writing two books a year (at least he’s back down to one, now that the disappointing Kane Chronicles series is over with). And actually, the action and the mythology are still really, really fun, I just prefer the old version of this story. The original Percy Jackson series felt intimate and original.

In fact, I kind of hope after he’s done with this series that he moves on to writing about other things besides mythology-is-real books. I think he’s pretty much milked the concept for all its worth at this point. (I say this knowing full well he’s got a Norse mythology series in the works.)

That’s not to say I don’t like this book or this series, because I do. I especially liked this one, which I think is my favorite in the series so far.

It’s been almost two months since I finished it, so details are a little hazy. The action is basically split in two: half of it lies with Percy and Annabeth in Tartarus, and the other half with the remaining demigods as they fight their way to the Doors of Hades from the other side, encountering gods, monsters, and mythological creatures along the way. Frank in particular got some great stuff in this book, after basically being a doormat in the last two. And the mythological tricksters The Kerkopes made me laugh out loud.

But really, my heart belonged to Percy and Annabeth in Tartarus for this one. That whole arc, as they make their way to the heart of Tartarus, is genuinely terrifying, and frankly, kind of ballsy for a middle grade author. The themes they were dealing with down there were super intense. Also, Riordan introduces the Titan Bob, who gets some good stuff out of Percy, and is completely delightful (and surprisingly heartbreaking) in his own right. He almost entirely makes up for the fact that the Titans have been sort of neutered by this series. They were horrifying in the original series, and here they’re barely a concern.

Anyway, very much looking forward to the next book in the series, and I have faith that Riordan can pull it off.

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #57: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

While it isn’t necessary to read Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series prior to this novel, The Lost Hero takes place afterwards so the reader will be missing some background. Since this novel focuses on three characters that are new to this world, however, it is very easy to just follow and learn along with them, while realizing that there are past relationships and nuances that you aren’t in on. The Percy Jackson series is fun, and there are only five, so they are definitely worth checking out and this book contains minor spoilers for that series, at least regarding whether certain characters lived or died (Riordan does a good job of not giving away much about the big events and twists, though).
The novel begins when Jason, one of the three new heroes, wakes on a bus, surrounded by strangers, unable to remember anything about himself. The first two students to address him are Piper, who says she is his girlfriend, and Leo, apparently his best friend. After an attack from a wind spirit, they are rescued, and introduced to a whole new supernatural world, one in which gods truly exist, and they are demigods, the offspring of a human and a Greek god. Piper and Leo are quickly claimed by their supernatural parents, though Jason isn’t. However, as confused as he is, Jason appears to have some familiarity with what is going on, recognizing the gods, the symbols, and much of the mythology, even if he keeps using the Roman rather than the Greek terms. All three are under a spell or mist – Piper and Leo have been made to believe that they know Jason while Jason’s memories have been taken. Soon after their arrival, they are given a quest to free Hera from her captors. In the process, they hope to find out what is going on with Jason and why, and Piper has her own motivations as well.