Book Review: Of Author Blindness Lost and The Demigod Diaries

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In reading reviews on Goodreads, I stumbled across the term “author blindness,” possibly coined by Andrea Caro.  Andrea “lost my awesome-goggles” that had blinded her to John Green’s flaws.  I think I have lost mine in regards to Rick Riordan, and this is a sad fact, because while I remember the thrill of the blindness, I am no longer experiencing it, and that makes almost every new thing that Rick writes at least a little disappointing.  I can recognize that with The Mark of Athena and The Demigod Diaries (his most recent works, excluding the graphic novel editions of previous novels), his writing is not becoming poorer, and other fans are not as disenchanted, yet I am not as enthralled, as I’ve already discussed in my review on The Mark of Athena.

The Demigod Diaries are a collection of short stories set in the world of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus series.  It includes three tales by Rick Riordan, author of those two series, and the premier work by his sixteen-year-old son, Haley.  Rick writes an entry from Luke Castellan’s diary, expanding the scene recounted in The Last Olympian where Annabeth meets Luke and Thalia; a short adventure that takes place between the two series involving Percy, Annabeth, and Hermes; and a tale of Leo, Piper, and Jason of The Heroes of Olympus series battling Maenads while on a quest to make peace with an enchanted table.  Haley’s story is the tale of one of the children of the minor gods who sided with the Titans who is rejected after the war by Camp Half-Blood.

This book also includes puzzles and author’s notes.  The puzzles were all too easy for me, but I enjoyed reading Rick’s conversational notes.

While all of these are enjoyable escapades, there is little overarching plot- or even world-building here.  Haley’s story may actually do the most to expand the world—and I’m not sure whether or not to consider his tale canon.

Possibly because I’d already read The Mark of Athena, the deadlines here, though just as imminent as any others written by Rick, seem to me to be less threatening.  Percy and Annabeth must complete their quest or Hermes will not finish his deliveries on time and will be greatly embarrassed.  Leo, Piper, and Jason must complete theirs or Argo II will self-destruct, taking a large section of the forest with it.  While Argo II is essential to the later save-the-world plot, it is not immediately necessary and I know that the Argo II does sail, and so I really wasn’t feeling the pressure as strongly as I’d have liked.  Luke and Thalia’s reads most like an excerpt from a larger Riordan novel—but then, it sort of is, since we’ve already seen the ending of that tale in The Last Olympian.

Haley’s story is the darkest, the tale of a demigod forced to go it alone, pursued by and dueling to the death with his godly sister.  Haley chooses and interesting point of view, taking the voice of a jaded, mortal author rather than his jaded demigod hero.  The writing itself is not as polished as I should like, occasionally shifting out of his narrator and occasionally breaking character, but it is certainly commendable for a sixteen-year-old.

***

Riordan, Rick.  The Demigod Diaries.  New York: Hyperion-Disney, 2012.

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

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