Reviewed in the United States on October 4, 2012
In some ways, Riordan's style is nothing like JK Rowlings': Riodan's writing is neat, punchy, slang-y -- right out of the minds & mouths of young folks becoming adults, who sound so like today's Middle School & High School students. Yes, of course, they're sometimes a bit "too" clever -- the verbal skills all of us wish we'd had at that age. But Riordan, at his best, really brings us into the minds & hearts of these young adults. And to balance their perhaps too-good talking, he's right-on when it comes to teen intensity in dating with all its embarassing uncertainties and exciting possibilities, as well as in the beauty, diversity, and all-importance of teen friendships. We do feel Riordan's world shaped by the Greek & Roman Gods, but we stay closer than Rowlings to our "this-world".
Rowlings, on the other hand, has a lot of long words in beautiful long sentences. She takes us out of our world and into one entirely different, though one we wish were close-by & available. We feel her magical world less through the eyes of Harry, Ron & Hermione, than through the mind of a master story-teller.
Yet Riordan & Rowlings, especially in this most recent Riordan tale, have much in common. R&R draw us into a new world that comes alive for us, and they fill it with young folks we care about deeply, people who are likeable, even admirable without being "too good". Percy & Harry -- both with green eyes & messy black hair -- are splendid characters, and they're backed up by many others just as good. R&R both take us on journeys which are wonderful swashbuckling tales. We love knowing more & more about the people, we enjoy seeing new facets of their worlds, and we can't wait to find out what happens next.
In this book, we see Riordan at his best, with two exceptions (which I'll discuss later). He takes us on a roller-coaster adventure, with ups & downs & sudden twists. In between, he gives us time to breathe and to better know the people in his delightful world, people we come to love. Leo and Annabeth shine. Here, like no other Riordan book, they become so real. Hazel and Frank, while taking a back seat, also shine. Riordan writes cameos -- glimpses of characters from the past that don't just explain or fill in gaps. They bring the present more alive. And Riordan does this with writing that often touches the heart.
My main disappointments here were in the first half or so. It seemed Riordan lost his Percy-touch! We got a not-quite real live person. This is also sadly true of Piper and Jason. They weren't bad; but they weren't fully there. Frankly, I missed them. I was glad when Riordan, later in the book, found his way back to them.
I especially enjoyed Riodan's not-at-all perfect, but still-powerful Gods, who can't keep their Roman & Greek lives separate. Their confusion and the pain they inflict on their world and on these young people -- well, it rings sadly true. I'm a psychotherapist and a grandfather. Riordan writes a tale I see in my office and in our own world. And as Riordan shows, we adults, we "Gods" -- who have brought our children into this world, a world we've helped make -- we do need our demigods to save us. And if they're going to save themselves, they need us too. The evil giants, after all, can only be killed when Gods & demigods work together. And the evil threatening our world can only be pushed back (sadly not destroyed forever), if all demigods and all Gods come together as one.
Rings true for me.
Buy the book & read it!