Saturday, December 10, 2011

Percy Jackson & The Sea of Monsters-Rick Riordan

Cyclopes, Monsters, Bermuda Triangle...oh my!



“Percy Jackson’s seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get…well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of his friends Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods with be destroyed. In this fresh, funny, and wildly popular follow-up to The lightning Thief, Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family-one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon’s son in an honor or a cruel joke.”

I am always pleased to read a series that gets a little better with each book. Rick Riordan’s Sea of Monsters is an amazing sequel. It is just as fun and fast paced as The Lightening Thief. This book shows the growth of Percy as he grows from a kid into a teenager. Riordan shows the toughness of Percy, but always keeps the character grounded. Clarisse, daughter of Ares and rival to Percy, is chosen to go to the Sea of Monsters to retrieve the Golden Fleece to save Thalia’s Tree (what keeps Camp Half-Blood protected). Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson, Percy’s Cyclopes half-brother, sneak out of camp not only to help retrieve the Golden Fleece, but to save Grover, who sends Percy a message through a dream that he is trapped in the cave of Polyphemus, attempting to hide being a sader by sporting a wedding dress and veil.

But where is the Sea of Monsters? That’s where it gets super brilliant: it’s the Bermuda Triangle! Riordan has a gift for blending ancient Greek myths with the modern contemporary world. And the thing is, it total makes sense. The Sea of Monsters being the Bermuda Triangle makes since in that the place is shroud in paranormal theories and mysteries. Why not have monsters explain why boats and planes that enter those waters be the reason for the disappearances?

My favorite part of the book was when we discover more about who Annabeth is. We know she is brilliant, tough, and resilient. But, when they go by the Sirens and she manages to cut herself free and swim to their island, we see that she hopes for love and affection of her mortal father and goddess mother Athena, and her once best friend Luke, sitting together at a picnic, happy and together. We see how lonely she is, always stuck at camp, never being with her mortal family. And with Luke betraying her, she truly felt she had no one. I feel at the end of the book, Annabeth sees that she’s not alone in having Percy as a friend, but also is able to allow herself to try to be with her father and her step-mother and half-brothers. 

For me, Percy Jackson is one of two characters I have read that have been under the age of sixteen (the other being Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Material series. Amazing! That’s for another book review). What Riordan seems to do best with his characters is give them room to grow. Percy is a great pre-teen/teenage character with the right amount of snark, pride, and self-doubt that makes him a great narrator.  Pat yourself on the back Mr. Riordan. You got another person hooked on your series with your great action sense, how you inject mythology into the modern world, and have us still routing for the Olympians. Because even though they are sort of jerks to their demi-god children, the alternative, Kronos, is just not something we want in this world. 

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