Review of the second book in the Heroes of Olympus series – Son of Neptune – By Rick Riordan
Greetings all! A long time ago I did a few book reviews, and since I’d like to mix things up here on the blog, I’ll continue to do some more during this summer. In addition, read through to the bottom of the story to see a special offer to self-published and indie-published authors.
The Son of Neptune is the second novel in Rick Riordan‘s The Heroes of Olympus series. It also happens to be one of my favorite of Rick Riordan’s novels. Personally, I’m a fan of Roman mythology and culture (As evidenced by my own novel!), so this ‘flip side’ of the Percy Jackson world was a long time coming. (Warning, the story contains some spoilers, but then again, you already knew that.)
Percy Jackson has amnesia. On the run from monsters who don’t seem to stay killed, and armed only with his own wits, skills, and trusty pen/blade Riptide, he follows the directions of Lupa, guardian she-wolf of Rome, towards safety. In his rush to reach a safehaven, he makes a fateful choice – Carrying the goddess Juno (i.e. Hera from the Greek Mythological World) in a archetypical ‘journey’ into the lands of Camp Jupiter, Rome incarnate in the Western Hemisphere.
In this strange new world, Percy seems out of place. Everything is neat and tidy and organized down to the last component. There are daily roll calls and official inductions for new recruits. Another big change – while readers of the rest of the Percy Jackson series will understand that only demigods can stay at Camp Half-Blood (With a few exceptions), Camp Jupiter is open to all with demigod blood or ancestors. Indeed, a vibrant community with ‘Roman’ citizens of all ages exists alongside Camp Jupiter in “Little Rome”.
I really liked this component, as it opens up a whole new range of possibilities for the characters. Before this, the reader was left to wonder – what do demigods do when they grow up? How do they get married and where do they live? Riordan provides the answer. So Percy gets his tour of the camp and the city, joins the 12th legion – the last official Roman legion that has existed unbroken since the time of the empire.
With his new friends, Frank, son of Mars (not Ares, but the roman aspect of Ares, Mars Ultor) and Hazel, daughter of Pluto and ‘sister’ of Nico Di Angelo – yes, that Nico from the other books – Percy is assigned to assist Frank on a quest after some judicious Roman head bashing in their version of capture the flag.
Setting north to rescue Death (capital D) from the clutches of Gaea, earth goddess with a major case of revenge, and her supremely powerful giant children, they demigods encounter a world where death is reversing itself, and once eliminated enemies are returning. Oh, and they find time to rescue a foretelling harpy, a rainbow goddess with a penchant for organic food, and discover the truth behind internet seller Amazon (Think literal), as well as a nice stop at Frank’s own house in Canada. We learn about Frank’s gift, but also his curse, throughout the book. No longer does Riordan focus on the naivety of his characters as in his earlier novels, but rather on their challenges forced upon them. Every hero has a weakness, but we learn our character’s weaknesses off the bat, and they must strive to find their strengths.
Finally blasting through these challenges, they arrive to find that rescuing death is about more than simply bashing down the front door, but must take sacrifice on one member’s part to bring balance to the situation.
I have to give the book five stars. I really enjoyed it and loved the characters, although Hazel should probably be on some meds for all the blacking out she does. The plot and follow through with the action and humor that Riordan twists into mythology helps younger readers blend the gap between fantasy and realism. It also helps us get past such incredibly tough names to pronounce (Say Laistrygonians three times fast – and that’s an easy one!). I truly enjoyed the book and can’t wait for Mark of Athena, the conclusion to the series, to come out this fall!