Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan

Title: The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles Book 1)
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books for Children, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 516 pages
Genre: Children's Fantasy/Adventure
Started: June 5, 2010
Finished: June 12, 2010

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them—Set—has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe—a quest which brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

I loved Riordan's Percy Jackson books, they're one of the main reasons why I started reading children's book again. When I started reading The Red Pyramid and realized it was trying to be a clone of Percy Jackson with a few differences, I didn't really mind so much. The only problem is that it doesn't quite match up to Percy. The Red Pyramid was good mind you, it just could've been better.

The book's narration alternates every few chapters between siblings Carter and Sadie Kane. Sometimes alternate narrations don't work for me, but this one was okay, and it was fairly easy to tell the difference between the voices because both protagonists were very individual and well-developed. I also loved the fact that the kids were bi-racial, it's really hard to find characters in children's books that aren't white, and making them mixed was even better. Carter takes after their father, so he looks black, whereas Sadie takes after their mother and looks white, so the kids have to deal with people thinking they aren't really related and their dad tells Carter that people will judge him differently than Sadie because of how he looks. Carter even relates how he's been followed several times by police since he was eleven, so there's a lot of good discussion topics relating to race and bi-racial heritage. So yes, bi-racial main characters = good.

Aside from those differences, the story follows Riordan's previous books. The Egyptian gods are alive in the modern world like the OLympian gods, except they don't have their own mortal bodies and need to take over a human body to have a form outside the spiritual world. The Kane family is descended from the line of Pharaohs, and Carter and Sadie are born with a lot of natural magical power. Their father tries to summon the god Osiris to bring their mother back from the dead, but he releases five gods instead (Osiris, Horus, Isis, Set, and Nephthys) and ends up being captured by Set who wants to destroy the world. The kids have a few days before Set is powerful enough to accomplish his task, so they seek help from various gods to aid them in their fight against Set. Not only that, Carter and Sadie they find out that they're housing the spirits of Horus and Isis, and are targets of The House of Life, an ancient organization that seeks to prevent the spirits of the gods from having power on earth by taking human hosts. So of course they go on this huge journey from Egypt to Paris to London to the US to find allies and escape the magicians from The House of Life that are hunting them. With them are the cat goddess Bast, as well as other Egyptian gods and goddesses that crop up (Thoth, Anubis etc.). This is where The Red Pyramid loses steam, the book really starts to lag in the last half and I felt that some of the parts could've been cut out to make a shorter story. Not that I'm scared off by a long book, but this book felt long for no reason, a lot of the time I forgot where the kids were and why they were there and what they were supposed to be doing. Granted, the book still kept my attention even though it wandered at times since the plot moves along quickly. The dialogue is colloquial and humorous, so kids'll love it. Carter and Sadie relate to each other more along the way, and it's nice to see sibling characters get along. It'll be nice to see where this story goes, so I probably be picking up the rest of the trilogy (presently planned as a trilogy), although if all the books have the same issues as this first one, they'll be a bit of a pain to get through.

If you're a fan of the Percy Jackson series, read this! Just keep in mind that you may have issues with it's length and pacing.

Thoughts on the cover:
I love the red, brown, and gold colour scheme, the shiny hieroglyphs, and the fact that (at least with Carter), you can tell the kids aren't white (yay for lack of white-washing on the cover!).

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