Book: The Mark of Athena

"The Mark of Athena"

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy–after six month of being apart, thanks to Hera–it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon figurehead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket, Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving command: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find–and close–the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader–but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Wow. I just have to say… Wow.

When I started reading the book, I wasn’t expecting anything. I mean, I knew I was bound to like it–just like I did the previous Percy Jackson books. I didn’t expect that I wouldn’t like it. That I would find it tedious. Boring. And completely out of tune with the rest of the series. From my point of view, anyway.

You know how in television shows you get filler episodes? A whole episode where something happens, the main story is pushed towards where it’s supposed to go–but nothing significant actually takes place? That’s how I felt about The Mark of Athena. Filler. And to top it all off, it didn’t feel like I was reading a Percy Jackson book. Because none of the characters were likeable.

I’m trying to understand why exactly that is. I mean, all the characters we interact with in this book are characters that have already appeared before. All of them were likeable before. So what happened?

Could it be that author Rick Riordan took on too many heroes at a time? After all, in all the Percy Jackson books, we’ve only had to deal with three main characters at a time–and suddenly, there’s seven of them. And while he tries to balance that all the heroes get a moment to shine, the experiment falls flat as certain personalities tend to come out in a bad light during the parts where he does this. In fact, the moments when the characters splinter off into smaller groups are more enjoyable to read than the ones where they all appear.

More than that though, the book just doesn’t feel special. I don’t know if Riordan is finally running out of mythologies to twist and modernize, or if he’s finally getting tired of the mythologies… but this book just didn’t have the magic of his previous books. And that’s what it comes down to in the young adult adventure genre, isn’t it? There has to be magic.

No, I don’t mean literal magic. But in a genre that’s currently teeming with so many titles, you want a book that can stand out–that can make spending PhP 699 (or $11.98) worth it. And I just didn’t feel that with The Mark of Athena.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the twist that’s supposed to make you cry–but you won’t. Because you know that it’s a set-up. It’s been spelled out the moment– well, I won’t spoil it for the ones who want to read the book. Just… don’t get your hopes up.

I’m hoping that the next book, The House of Hades, is way better than this. Then again, I’m sure other people liked the book. Why don’t we check out what said people wrote about The Mark of Athena?
Throuthehaze Reads
My Book Musings
Rachel’s Reads
The Girl Who Read and Other Stories
YouTube Review: CassJayTuck

Book: Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata

"Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata" by Ricky LeeEleksyon, 2010. Isang baklang impersonator, si Amapola, ang naging manananggal at nakatanggap ng propesiya na siya ang itinakdang magliligtas sa Pilipinas. Ang naghatid ng balita: si Emil, isang pulis na Noranian. Ang pasimuno ng balita: si Sepa, ang lola sa tuhod ni Amapola, na nanggaling pa sa panahon ng Kastila at may unrequited love noon kay Andres Bonifacio.

In English; it’s election time in 2010–and a gay impersonator, Amapola, becomes a manananggal and receives a prophecy that says he was fated to become the savior of the Philippines. The bearer of the news? A policeman named Emil, who turns out to be a big fan of Nora Aunor. And the root of the prophecy? Sepa, the great-great-grandmother of Amapola, who traveled through time from the era of Spanish Colonization–and who has unrequited love for Andres Bonifacio.

I have to say, I liked this better than Para Kay B, Ricky Lee’s first novel. Although, thinking about it, the two novels do share a similar format, in which we get vignettes of story-telling tied together by a bigger arc. In this book, it’s the prophecy that Sepa foresees: that Amapola will be the one to bring forth change in the country–that she will begin the campaign to have everyone, including “monsters” like them, be accepted by society.

What the synopsis doesn’t say though is that we’re not dealing with just one protagonist in this novel. We have three–for the most part anyway. See, Amapola has split personalities: aside from the gay impersonator, we also meet his straight persona Isaac, and his closeted persona Zaldy. Though Amapola appears in the title, it’s not just his story–and he is not the only one who sets things into motion.

As I mentioned before, Amapola employs the use of self-contained vignettes that tie together in the end. For the most part, it’s a great ploy to keep the book a page-turner. Until, that is, you start jumping from one character to the next. Once we meet Emil, Sepa and Giselle (Isaac’s girlfriend), we also get involved in their lives–whether we want to or not. Personally, I would’ve have preferred sticking with Amapola and his other personalities. They were entertaining enough for me. Emil’s chapters, in my opinion, bordered on depressing. And Sepa’s were just disorienting. Giselle’s chapters prove to be entertaining too, but they’re ultimately distracting when you mull the whole story over.

My opinion on the book is that it suffers from having too many voices. Distinct voices, yes, which shows you how well Ricky Lee knows his characters–but the distinctness of each character only serves to underline the disjointed narrative. And when you’re reading a book to entertain yourself, like I do, you don’t really want to tax your brain.

I’m not saying that the book is confusing. It’s not. It’s pretty straightforward. And it’s well-written. It all just boils down to the fact that it has too many lead characters vying for the spotlight.

But this is just my opinion. Check out what other people have to say about the book on Good Reads, and in the only other blog I saw with a … review.

Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata is available in bookstores nationwide.