Final Verdict: 3.75 out of 4.0
3 – Plot/Story is interesting and believable.
Percy Jackson and the gang are back again. Well, Percy is back again – but the gang is a new one. In this second book of the Heroes of Olympus series, which is a sequel to Riordan’s hit Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, Percy finds himself battling demons that won’t die and suffering from near-total amnesia. He does not remember who he is, where he is from, or why these crazy un-killable baddies keep attacking him. Some instinct pulls him strongly toward a camp, where the goddess Juno awaits – but something isn’t quite right. Percy is a Greek demigod, and this camp is for Romans! Percy must join forces with the Romans, while rediscovering who he is and, afterwards, bringing the two people, Greek and Roman, together to prepare for battle against the mother of all goddesses, Gaea, who is raising a force of evil to crush the world. Can the Greeks and the Romans set aside their bitter, centuries-old rivalries to work together? Will the gods stand by their demigod children or let them face Gaea’s minions alone? Will Percy every gain all of his memory back? The Son of Neptune is about new friendships, burgeoning strengths, overcoming self-doubt and setting aside prejudices to fight for the larger good. It is a fast-paced, exciting, and surprisingly moving modern mythological fantasy – probably Riordan’s best yet.
4 – Characters extraordinarily well-developed.
As a big fan of The Percy Jackson series, I find myself a bit ashamed to admit that I actually enjoyed the new characters and Percy’s semi-reconstruction (due to his memory loss) a bit more appealing than the originals. The Roman gods, though less is seen of them, seem less severe than the Greeks, which is historically accurate but also makes for a more believable story. What added to the improved effect here, I think, is that not only did Percy have an interesting journey to embark on, rediscovering himself, his past, and his strengths, but so did the two supporting characters, Frank and Hazel. These two each come from very interesting backgrounds and have potentially scary, sad futures ahead of them. The triple-threat, as it were, of the main story (battling Gaea’s army and saving the world) combined with these sub-stories made for a dynamic new friendship and allowed for real growth from all three characters, but particularly Frank – who might have the most to lose, and to gain. Visits from favorite past characters, like Nico di Angelo and Tyson, are also welcomed and well-incorporated.
4 – Extraordinary Prose/Style, conducive the Story.
One of my biggest complaints in this area has been that whoever is responsible for editing and proofreading Riordan’s books consistently makes glaring oversights. The last few Riordan books in particular, including the Kane Chronicles and The Lost Hero were rife with omitted and/or extra words or other grammar errors. Now, this is not necessarily the author’s fault, so I tried to be lenient, but it was definitely becoming bothersome. I did see two such instances in The Son of Neptune, but they were minor oversights and, comparatively, nothing to scoff at. With that improvement, coupled with how well-paced this book was and how suiting the language is to both the story and the audience, I was pleased overall. Percy’s wit and sarcasm are back, which is possibly one of my favorite things about these books (“typical teenager” – but a funny one!). The dialogue is done well, as are the descriptions. I still sometimes hope for more progressive growth, year-to-year, but Riordan is sticking to his IR/MG readership, and that is in a way admirable, if not exactly what I would like to see as an adult reader (but, hey, the books aren’t marketed towards adults so I get it!).
Additional Elements: Setting, Symbols/Motifs, Resolution, etc.
4 – Additional elements improve and enhance the story.
In addition to the main purpose of the book, which I will get to in a minute, this book also has much to say about individual responsibility – responsibility to the self and to others (friends and family, in particular). Each of the characters has something they must overcome in order to be the hero they were meant to be and, although the book is fantasy, this aspect of the story is highly transferable to the traditional coming-of-age story. But, once again, the biggest selling-point for the book is what it teaches us. The Roman mythology is interesting and totally accessible, thanks to the modern setting, the relevant comparisons, and the engaging characters that learn and/or explain the histories as the reader journeys along with them. The Son of Neptune is particularly fascinating in that it exposes more of the specific differences between Greek and Roman mythology, and why there is such animosity between the two groups. If you are looking for educational and entertaining books about Greek and Roman mythology, which are accessible to novices, younger readers, and adults already familiar with the original epics – Riordan is your man.
Suggested Reading for:
Age Level: IR/MG
Interest: Roman Mythology, Greek Mythology, Ancient Greek-Roman History, Action/Adventure, Modern Day Retellings, Fantasy.
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I will be writing my very first novel (at least 50,000 words) and would truly appreciate your sponsorship. All donations go to The Office of Letters and Light – a great charity working for a great cause! If you can spare even $5 (or more) – please Sponsor Me and help me stay energized to write my book and WIN NaNoWriMo!