Book Review: The Son of Neptune Succeeds Again

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The last line of Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero gave me of twinge of fear.  The Lost Hero had just completed the “amnesiac hero in the opposing camp, slowly remembering who he is” storyline, and the last line, combined with the next book’s title, predicted a repetition of the idea.  But, never fear, Riordan soars again.  Percy Jackson, unaware of who he is and in the Roman camp, is nothing like Jason Grace without his memory in the enemy Greek camp.

Percy returns as the hero we all loved through his title series in The Son of Neptune, book 2 in The Heroes of Olympus series, knowing nothing but his name.  Once at Camp Jupiter, he joins forces with misfits Hazel Levesque and Frank Zhang.

Fans of the Percy Jackson books will relish the chance to relive them as Percy encounters friends and foes and alludes to his previous adventures as the memories return to him.  And his quick wit and honest voice and observations have not abandoned him.

The supporting cast—heroes, anti-heroes, and immortals—are strong.  I am particularly fond of the characters of Reyna’s sister, Hylla; and Octavian, the smooth-talking politician and auger longing to be praetor.

As always, Riordan seamlessly and hilariously enfolds the ancient myths into our modern society, and creates great characters of the gods, heroes, and ancient villains.  (Rick, I want Pluto’s Skype address.)

Following Riordan’s usual quest storyline, Percy, Frank, and Hazel battle monsters and are helped or hindered by gods and goddesses of Greek and Roman mythology as they try to complete their impossible task.  Gaea’s and Juno’s plots thicken.  If I read the innards of my teddy bear correctly, Riordan is building towards a battle of proportions not matched by even The Last Olympian (final book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series).

This book is the first of Riordan’s to give us a full picture of the modern Roman world, though its existence was revealed by Jason in the previous book of the series, as exciting though more political than Camp Half-Blood (Rome is a Republic after all), as is the book itself.

Riordan attempts to increase awareness of modern, forgotten heroes—namely, the Canadian military.  (“Welcome to Canada, idiot.”  I don’t know that I, ignorant American that I am, have ever been prouder of our often ignored or ridiculed Northern neighbors… though we do have Canada to thank for some wonderful actors and places to film.)  This might also be a chance for him to make amends for the cannibalistic Laistrygonians’ nickname.

Yes, I have quibbles, but they are minor.  In the main, I gripe that Riordan failed to give Hazel the voice that she deserved.  (SPOILER) From World War II-era New Orleans, Hazel has every right to command odd turns of phrase and gestures.  Riordan makes a quick allusion to an old-fashioned gesture of Hazel’s seen from Frank’s perspective, but fails utterly at giving Hazel that unique time-traveler voice (END SPOILER)—which is surprising from a man who has won my admiration through his command of voice—particularly, albeit, Percy’s.

But ending as (almost) always with surprises, this is a definitely recommended read.  I thank you, Rick, for another fantastic book and eagerly await whatever comes next (Greek and Roman, Egyptian, or Norse).

*****

Riordan, Rick.  The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two: The Son of Neptune.  New York: Hyperion-Disney, 2011.

This review is not endorsed by Hyperion Books, Disney Book Group, or Rick Riordan.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

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