Friday, January 7, 2011

The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan

Title: The Lost Hero (Book 1 of The Heroes of Olympus series)
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 557 pages
Genre: Children's/Young Adult; Adventure, Fantasy
Started: January 6, 2011
Finished: January 7, 2011

From the inside cover:
Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.

Join new and old friends from Camp Half-Blood in this thrilling first book in The Heroes of Olympus series.

I loved the Percy Jackson series when I read it a couple of years ago. They remind me of the awesome action-adventure type books I used to read when I was ten, it gives you the same feeling while reading them. When the first book in Riordan's new series, unrelated to the Percy Jackson universe but with similar elements in it, The Red Pyramid , came out back in May, I was kind of disappointed. The Red Pyramid was okay, it just didn't wow me as much as the Percy books did. The Lost Hero is the first book in another new series from Riordan, this one taking place in the same universe as the Percy Jackson books (about two years or so after the events in The Last Olympian), and featuring the same characters from the old books as well as some new ones. I was kind of worried when I picked it up, thinking it would be disappointing like The Red Pyramid, but it was unnecessary. The Lost Hero was amazing!

Minor spoilers ahead, so tread carefully!

The Lost Hero uses a similar premise to the Percy books, but the plot is upped a notch to the point where I was thinking "Riordan is cruel yet brilliant!"

Jason, Piper, and Leo are around 15-16 years old and find themselves on a wilderness retreat with their school for "bad kids" when storms rise up around them and Annabeth rescues them and takes them to Camp Half Blood where they all discover that, ta da!, they're all demigods. Jason is the son of Zeus, Piper is the daughter of Aphrodite, and Leo is the son of Hephaestus, so they're sectioned off into their perspective cabins and are soon issued the prophecy and quest typical of these books:

Child of lightning, beware the earth,
The giants' revenge the seven shall birth,
The forge and the dove shall break the cage,
And death unleash through Hera's rage.

Hera's been kidnapped by the giants (Gigantes), and our new group of demigods need to go off and discover why Hera was taken, and how it relates to the overarching plot that will span the series. At the same time, Piper's dad has been kidnapped by Enceladus (another of the giants), an act that attempts to divide her loyalties and break up the new group of heroes. So while trying to rescue Hera and Piper's dad, the three of them attempt to deal with issues from their pasts and what the demigod revelation means to their lives. If that wasn't enough, Jason has no clue who he is or where he came from, so they're trying to figure out Jason as well.

Whereas the Percy Jackson books had a first person narrative, and The Red Pyramid had alternating first person narratives, The Lost Hero has a third person point of view that alternates every two chapters between Jason, Piper, and Leo. I like how this book focuses on three main characters rather than mainly Percy in the previous series, you get to examine the different personalities a lot more closely than you did before. Jason's the reluctant leader, Piper is the slightly brainy mediator, and Leo is the handy one that thinks out of the box, so there's a character type for everyone this time. Similar to The Red Pyramid, Riordan's including more characters from different cultural backgrounds and races, which is really nice to see. Jason's Caucasian, but Piper is Cherokee, and Leo is Latino, so there's a nice mix here. I really liked how we got to see inside more of the cabins, especially Piper in the Aphrodite cabin. I never really thought much of Aphrodite and her kids, all pink and frilly and obsessed with their looks, but Piper is the complete opposite of that, and she explores what it really means to be a child of Aphrodite.

The only thing I disliked about this book was the length, which was the same complaint I had in The Red Pyramid. This book is over 550 pages, and certain parts in the middle felt unnecessary....I think you could trim or condense about 100 pages from this and it wouldn't suffer from it.

It's not hard to figure out the surprises in the plot once it gets going, but once you realize exactly where this series is going with it and get to the cliffhanger ending, you'll be incredibly hooked. Aside from my issues with the length, I'd have to say I'm liking this series just as much, if not more than the Percy Jackson books. The plot is more intricate, the characters are relatable and nicely varied, the writing is still super funny (kids will love it), and the new satyr character (Gleeson Hedge) that replaces Grover has the personality of a high school gym teacher/coach....that's right, he's awesome and hilarious.

This is a planned 5-book series, with one book released per year with the final one expected in late 2014. Which means I'll still be buying these books when my youngest nephew is nearly finished high school....that is a long way ahead. Book 2 comes out in the fall of 2011, so only about 10-11 months to go to read the next one!

Just as good if not better than the Percy Jackson books, so read this! It's probably not necessary to read the Percy books before starting on this, but you do get more of an appreciation for things if you do.

Thoughts on the cover:
Love it. The turquoise and gold colour scheme paired with the dynamic image of Leo, Piper, and Jason on Festus the mechanical dragon makes for a really eye-pleasing cover. The orangey font used for the author's name does seem out of place, but oh well.

No comments:

Post a Comment