October 19, 2010

All Roads Lead To Rome (Review: The Lost Hero; R. Riordan)

Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero
Rick Riordan
Puffin 2010

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper. His best friend is a kid named Leo, and they’re all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids.” What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea. Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he’s in terrible danger. Now a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood.  Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. The place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What’s troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper’s gone missing. (blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

I love Rick Riordan – I tore through the Percy Jackson novels earlier in the year and was delighted that I had joined the PJ party rather late as it meant I could read them all straight away. The mix of Greek mythology, humour and often thoughtful commentary on growing up and discovering who you are was a joy to read and, most importantly, a barrel load of fun. The Lost Hero, returning to the world of Camp Half-Blood, could have been a bridge to far but actually exceeds the Percy Jackson series in it's size, scope and story telling.

The Lost Hero employs an ambitious triple-narrative structure, rotating the story telling between Jason, Piper and Leo (all written in the third person, a successful stylistic shift from Riordan's usual first person point of view). Each character has a clearly defined voice and therefore the chopping and changing never becomes confusing, rather it propels the book a long really well.

Amnesiac Jason is clearly the leader of the group, despite his confusion over who and what he is. He comes across as a genuinely nice guy with good intentions and a true desire to help his new friends. However, there is always the question of his past lurking and the possibility that he may turn out to be an enemy of the other demigods. It's cleverly written, with the potential for Jason to end up being not so nice being something that torments him more than it torments his friends. Leo is a lot of fun as a character, providing a lot of the levity in the story with his ceaseless wise-cracking. However, he is not without pathos as his memories soon start to prove – of all the characters he is probably the one who develops most over the course of the story and will clearly have a large part to play in future installments. Of the three, Piper was by far my favourite. A beautiful girl who doesn't care that she's beautiful and a girlfriend who realises that, actually, she wasn't a girlfriend at all she is really interesting. She's kick ass without being obviously so and intelligent without being a genius. Her interaction with the two boys is touching and her relationship with Jason subtly written and at times both entertaining and excruciating.

For fans of the Percy Jackson series, there are plenty of old faces included in The Lost Hero. I had assumed that we would see these characters from afar but they all play an integral part to the plot. While largely relegated to the sidelines in this installment, Annabeth and Thalia in particular are clearly going to be major characters as the series progresses. Percy Jackson is, importantly, nowhere to be found but as book two is called The Son Of Neptune, I suspect he will show up sooner rather than later.

The plot of The Lost Hero is vast and all encompassing introducing new enemies, referencing old and leading us ever further into the annals of Greek, and now Roman, mythology. By introducing the Romans, Riordan has cleverly been able to stick with characters recognisable to Percy Jackson readers and yet give them a whole new aspect. It's a genius approach and gives the heroes' world further depth and potential. For lovers of Greek/Roman myths there is an added dimension, with much fun to be had trying to figure out who each new character is from their clothes, language or general demeanor.

I really can't recommend the Rick Riordan books highly enough. While his last tome, The Red Pyramid, was very entertaining it has nothing on his return to Olympus. You don't have to read the Percy Jackson series to enjoy this book – you can just jump right in, although I guarantee you will be returning to the book store to pick up all available stories featuring the Heroes of Olympus. Fantastic, educational and fall-down-funny, sit down and prepare for a bumpy ride!



Heroes of Olympus - The Lost Hero is available now. Thanks to Puffin for sending me this copy to review.

2 comments:

thebookfairyhaven said...

I'm so glad I saw this review of yours today because I've seen this book a while back on someone's wish list I think, but somehow seem to have forgotten that I wanted to read this. Will be adding this to my TBR pile, especially considering the Greek and Roman mythology factors - both of which I'm huge fans of. Brilliantly written review as always. I'm definitely sold on this one!

asamum said...

I soo want to read all of this series. I am waiting to see if the big girl gets them for Christmas :D