Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

I recently read The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.  The Lost Hero is the first volume in the Heroes of Olympus series, which is the sequel to the Percy Jackson series.

I am always suspicious of sequels, because they tend not to be as good as the original stories.  I loved the Percy Jackson books, and I was afraid that Riordan might do something annoying like place the sequel 20 to 30 years in the future with Percy Jackson as a middle-aged man.  The reviews for The Lost Hero are excellent, so I bought the book and hoped I would like it.

I was pleased that the dust jacket gives some information about the book without giving anything away.  So often, summaries on dust jackets give us too much information about the plot.  The summary gives us basic information from the beginning of the story.  Here is the information:
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 his best friend is a guy named Leo.  They're all students at the Wilderness School, a boarding school for "bad kids," as Leo puts it.  What did Jason do to end up here?  And where is here, exactly?  Jason doesn't know anything—except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret.  Her father, a famous actor, has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare about his being in trouble.  Piper doesn't understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn't recognize her.  When a freak storm hits during the school trip, 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, whether she wants to or not.

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, and some camper who's gone missing.  Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.  Does this have anything to do with Jason's amnesia, or the fact that Leo keeps seeing ghosts?

Join new and old friends from Camp Half-Blood in this thrilling first book in the The Heroes of Olympus series.  Best-selling author Rick Riordan has pumped up the action, humor, suspense, and mystery in an epic adventure that will leave readers panting for the next installment.
I was able to get into the story very quickly.  I was relieved when I realized that this book begins just four months after the end of the final Percy Jackson book.  Yes!  Most of the primary characters from the Percy Jackson books do not appear in this book.  A few do appear, and their appearances are natural.  Others are just mentioned by name only.

Of course many of the book's events are contrived and similar to events in the Percy Jackson series.  The final battle near the end of the book is reminiscent of one from the Percy Jackson series.  This is to be expected of series books, and I was not bothered at all by the similarities.

The book adds a new twist to the Percy Jackson universe.  The Percy Jackson books focus on the Greek gods, and this book adds in their Roman counterparts, which are explained as something like an alternate personality.  It adds an intriguing twist.

Percy Jackson readers will recall a prophecy from near the end of the final book.  That prophecy mentions a new quest and struggle.  This new series tells the story of that new prophecy.  It all fits together nicely.

Much of the fun in reading is trying to guess what is really happening.  The biggest mystery is why Jason's memory has been wiped clean.  We learn why near the end of the story, and the revelation gives us insight into the epic story arc that will develop in the rest of the series.

I greatly enjoyed this book.  While I believe readers can enjoy it without having read the Percy Jackson books, they will gain more enjoyment if they are already familiar with the setting. 

The book has a lot of the humor of the Percy Jackson books.  The writing is on a slightly higher level than the first Percy Jackson book, which makes sense because these young people are a couple years older than Percy was during the first book.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait nearly a year for the next installment in this series.  That's the only trouble with reading modern series books; I have to wait for each book to get published.

The next book will be titled The Son of Neptune, and the title has spawned much discussion on whom the Son of Neptune is. Readers who have finished The Lost Hero are certain they know whom he will be, and the story told should be very interesting.  Speculating during the time lapse between Harry Potter books was the best part, and we can do the same with these books.

Have any of you read any of the Percy Jackson books?  Did you like or dislike them?

1 comment:

stratomiker said...

I actually think these books totally suck. I had my own 'Olympus' Rick Raider book online for ten years, THE SEARCH FOR THE ETERNAL FLAME. It was about normal American teens who happened to get hijacked to a planet in another galaxy where the civilization was similar to the ancient Greek civilization on Earth. The 'similarities in the universe' and all that 1960s sci-fi rot....

I wrote the book in the early 1980s when publishers were first asking for fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi. The other two in the breeder set were earthbound normal mysteries. The books were intended as a boys companion set to the Susan Sand books, but Pinnacle got bought out by S&S, who had just gotten the Stratemeyer stuff, and immediately canceled Susan Sand (too much like Nancy Drew, even though much better) and, of course, did not want Rick Raider. Although they did ask Marilyn Ezzell and I to write for them (Drews and Hardys!) but we both said, 'Yucks No!'

Since then, Fantasy has become the leading juvie genre, mostly because you don't have to be politically correct about non-humans. And everybody has been writing them, and they have just become so trite. I did enjoy the first two Harry Potters, but after that the books became the same, and the very same story kept being told over and over. I tried the Percey Jacksons but could not even get through the first one. I'm a hound for mystery and adventure, but fantasy with weird monsters popping out of nowhere (in a museum of all places!) and all the silliness that goes along with it is just too much.

Riordan is a fantastic author. I read his adult detective novels set in the West and they are among the best. But I feel he's writing all this juvie fantasy drivel just to make a fast big buck - and he certainly is raking it in. Most writers of his calibre would never stoop so low as to writing these kind of books.

I think the fantasy/paranormal whiz has gone on for long enough and that young people need to start reading again about real young people have real plausible adventures, not quasi-humans or already-dead ones flitting around in absurd fantasy worlds.