by Rick Riordan
Hardcover, 516 pg.
Read: October 25 – 28, 2014
Well, after ten novels, it’s time to say good-bye to Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and the other residents of Camp Half-Blood — not to mention their new-found allies and friends (when they’re not trying to wipe them out) from Camp Jupiter. But first they have to stop Gaea and her army of giants from wiping out the gods, humanity, and all life as we know it.
Just another day for these demi-gods, really.
As is the norm for Riordan’s books, our heroes are faced with a series of tasks which build up to a major confrontation — this time, a couple of them. It’s amusing as usual to see these kids outwit various minor gods, titans, etc. Good teacher that he is, Riordan gives his readers plenty of education about the Greek and Roman pantheons under the thin disguise of plot development.
The big epic battles that he’s been building for since the beginning of this series — well, they were epic. They were tension filled. And still managed to be funny. And will likely be read with breaths caught, and lumps in throats. Possibly the funniest visual in Riordan’s works appears in the midst of one of these battles, and for a second I was torn between enjoying it and turning the page to find out what happened next.
My one quibble was that the resolution to the Gaea story was a little too easy, a little too quick after all this build up. Still, the way he wrapped up the other story lines and conflicts was sufficient, so I was able to move past it easily. Riordan continues dabbling in themes I’d prefer not to see in MG books, but I know I’m in the minority on that.
At the end of the day, especially at this point in these series, it’s the characters that readers care about. I read this ahead of my son (who started these back when there were only three in the original series, and is now a good deal older than the target audience) and made a joke about something bad happening to Grover — and the glare he gave me probably took a year off my life. It’d that kind of dedication that Riordan instills in his fans. As such, there’s plenty of development and resolution given to these characters — Riordan doesn’t spell out their futures the way that Rowling did at the end of her series, but he gives us enough to be able to say good-bye.
Riordan does right by his characters — Reyna, Jason, and Frank particularly. Annabeth and Piper shine like neither has before. And Leo Valdez is even more of a star than he was before (if I’m going to talk about my son’s soft spot for Grover, I’d better be honest about my Leo-centric focus). I’m not saying they all survive, or are otherwise unscathed, but Riordan treats his characters with respect and keeps his readers turning the pages.
It’ll be odd not getting a new adventure with these characters next year, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Riordan does with the Norse pantheon (and learning about them, too).