October 26, 2012
The Mark of Athena
by Rick Riordan
First sentence: "Until she met the exploding statue, Annabeth thought she was prepared for anything."
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series: The Lost Hero, The Son of Neptune
First: can I call you Rick? I mean, I've been a fan since I read the first Percy Jackson book (yeah, I know, I missed the Tres Navarre series until later, but that's just because I'm not really a mystery sort of person) way back in 2005. I loved everything about it: the characters, the use of Greek mythology, the pacing: it was a great example of what middle grade fantasy can do.
But, Rick. Rick. You've lost the Touch.
I don't know if it's because you've been trying to write two series at once. Or if it's because with all the demands of being a best-selling author, you're churning out books too fast. Or if my expectations are just way too high. Whatever the reason: this one, as much as I love Percy, Annabeth and the rest of the clan, is just not a great book.
(As a brief aside, if you want to write a whole book about Leo Valdez, I will read it. Team Leo!)
It's very much a middle-of-the-series book, as well. Sure, the group from Camp Half-Blood (Annabeth, Piper, Jason, and Leo from the first book) has to head to Camp Jupiter to pick up that group (Percy, Hazel, and Frank) and then end up in Rome in order to stop Gaea. I get that. But, that's all there really is to the plot. So, Rick, I ask you this: why did this book need to be 574 pages long? Yeah, I get it: you want to weave in other myths and minor gods, but meeting Nemisis, Narcissus, Bacchus, Hercules, Chrysaor, plus the giants who are helping Gaea out is just way too many. I know: you've always thrown in a lot in your books, but for some reason this time around it just seemed cluttered. You threw out another god, and my reaction was, "Really? Another god?" rather than "Woot! Another god!"
Also: while I adore the cover (and know you have nothing to do with it), it gives the impression that you were going to address the rift between the two camps. That something Big was going to Happen, and that there was going to be a Grand Confrontation. There's not, though it is implied at points. The whole point of this one, was to get the group from point A to point B, and I felt slighted by that.
Don't fret, though: I am going to read The House of Hades, Rick. (I know you were worried.) I'm still invested in the series. But, you know: especially now that the Kane Chronicles are done, I hope for a better book. Something more like what you gave me back in the beginning.
Is that too much to ask?
Melissa (and girls. Their comments? "It's not his best book.")
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I've been asked to make sure y'all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)