Book: The House of Hades

"The House of Hades"

The Demigod crew of the Argo II is standing at a crossroads. They could return home with the Athena Parthenos statue and try to stop Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter from going to war. Or they could continue on their quest to find the House of Hades, where they might be able to open the Doors of Death, rescue their friends Percy and Annabeth from Tartarus (if they have survived), and prevent monsters from being reincarnated in the mortal world. Whichever road they decide to take, they have to hurry, because time is running out. Gaea, the bloodthirsty Earth Mother, has set the date of August 1 for her rise to power.

Good.

The best thing about The House of Hades is this: it’s not The Mark of Athena. It feels like a proper adventure book and not an awful attempt at fan service. The story progresses, the characters develop, and the plots weave together into a culminating event that becomes the main concern of the book that will follow: The Blood of Olympus. Now, let’s expound:

What I liked best about The House of Hades is the pace in which the story progresses. It doesn’t feel rushed, and nothing feels like filler. Author Rick Riordan deftly handles the adventure that doesn’t make it look stretched. In fact, parts of it happen so quickly that you don’t realize that it already was a separate adventure.

I also like the fact that Riordan is now tapping into the lesser-known mythologies to challenge our main heroes’ capabilities. Mostly because I don’t second-guess what’s going to happen next as I’m less familiar with these new gods and goddesses and monsters.

The characters are more likeable this time around too. The Mark of Athena made me dislike a lot of the characters. This time, their insecurities and strength are balanced well enough that they just feel real–not overly flawed protagonists trying hard to be relatable.

And I have no complaints about the two story threads we had to follow throughout the book. Both were very compelling, and leaves the right amount of tension every time we would switch perspectives.

I think The House of Hades is the best book so far in the Heroes of Olympus series. But that’s just me.

Let’s see what other people have said about The House of Hades:
What a Nerd Girl Says
Looking for the Panacea
The Islander Girl

Movie: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters"

Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon, continues his epic journey to fulfill his destiny, as he teams with his demigod friends to retrieve the Golden Fleece, which has the power to save their home and training ground, Camp Half-Blood.

There was too little Nathan Fillion and Anthony Stewart Head for my liking.

No, but seriously, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters must be one of the worst adaptations I’ve ever seen. And that’s including The Lightning Thief. How? Well…

Number one, it doesn’t respect the source material. Seriously. One of the things you need to do when you adapt a book into a movie is to respect the material. You don’t have to stay completely true to it, but you have to keep the essence of what makes the book well-loved by fans. When you treat the story like shit, you’re treating the fans the same way.

I don’t like being treated like shit.

Now, to put things in perspective, I want to share why Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the best movie adaptations in my opinion. Don’t worry, this will be short. Basically, in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie, the screenplay writer and the director took the parts of the book that would make the most sense in the context of the film universe, the parts that would make the movie look good, and then made sure that it kept to the message that the book wanted to put across: that we mustn’t judge others based on what we hear about them.

That movie did a great job.

Sea of Monsters actually has the same message. sort of. But the most important part of the book, for me, was the fact that this was about Percy Jackson coming to his own. The first book had him rely a lot on Annabeth, Grover, and the other kids at the camp. Sea of Monsters was his quest taken away from him, and his journey to find out who he is, and what he is capable of.

His main problem is belonging.

Instead, we are treated to what is supposed to be a series of eye-candies: a battle aboard a ship, a daring escape, and a chase scene that was supposed to scare us into thinking that our heroes are doomed. Instead of getting intelligent solutions to problems posed to our heroes, we see just how lucky they can get.

Everything is planted clearly. Everything is handed to our heroes on a silver plate. By the end of the movie, our heroes learn nothing. They do not grow.

The source material was treated like shit.

I’m supposed to go to number two now, but that’s mostly me griping about the changes made from book to film. I understand the need to make it more visually appealing for the tween audiences. But couldn’t they have at least tried to make it make sense?

Seriously, an amusement park in an island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle? Someone definitely didn’t think things through.

Being a writer, I know how hard it is to adapt something that isn’t originally yours. Especially when you have to stay fateful, but don’t have enough airing time to do show everything important. That’s why we have creative licenses. That’s why we adapt instead of dramatize. Looking into the end product we get with Sea of Monsters, I had to wonder: how hard was it to adapt the book? Had I been writing it, I definitely would’ve done it a lot differently.

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Book: The Son of Neptune

"The Son of Neptune" by Rick RiordanPercy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn’t know much more than his name. Somehow he has managed to make it to a camp for half-bloods, but it doesn’t ring any bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is anotehr name: Annabeth.

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn’t do a very good job of it. Now, bercause of a mistake she made back then, the future of the world is at risk. Hazel wishes she could ride away from it all on the stallion that appears in her dreams.

Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes, but he doesn’t see it. His bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially in front of Hqazel, his closes friend. He trusts her completely–enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart.

Beginning at the ‘other’ camp for half-bloods and extending as far as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophecy of Seven.

You know what? It’s a good thing that I bought The Son of Neptune because I highly enjoyed The Lost Hero, and because I’m a fan of the Percy Jackson series. If I had been looking for a book to buy, and I came across the back cover blurb given this book? I wouldn’t have thought twice–I would have just put the book back down on the shelf and forgotten about it. Which is sad. Because as bad as this book blurb is, the story author Rick Riordan weaves for The Son of Neptune is one of his best yet.

The number one rule in reading an Olympus-based novel from Rick Riordan (or any of his young adult fiction novels, actually) is to spend enough disbelief that you can enjoy a roaring good time. None of his books are perfect, and The Son of Neptune is no exception. Some exposition and some explanations are forsaken for the sake of a fast-paced movement of the plot. Which, seeing as this book is a young adult novel in 2011, is a good thing. I guess. Kids nowadays easily lose interest in what they are doing, so I guess it’s good that you have a book that really keeps its readers on their toes.

Now, why am I saying that this is Rick Riordan’s best work yet? Because unlike the books of the Percy Jackson series, the story we get here does not borrow from mythological stories of old. We don’t get retreads and rewrirtes of stories that can be searched in Wikipedia. Of course you can say that The Lost Hero was the same–but there’s still a difference. The first book in the Heroes of Olympus series introduced us to three new characters–and expected us to quickly latch on to them like we did with Percy Jackson. But with an amnesiac protagonist, and two heroes who have yet to learn the ropes, this felt like a stepdown coming from The Last Olympian–which is the final book in the Percy Jackson series.

With The Son of Neptune, we already have Percy Jackson to latch onto. We know him even if he doesn’t know himself. And more importantly, the stories of his co-lead characters in this book have backgrounds that are as rich as his–and they’re also a joy to uncover. Another plus, the fact that both new characters are related to previously established characters. This made getting to know them easier; and because they’re not just adding new information but rather expanding previously known facts, I was more welcome in accepting them. I don’t know about other readers though.

Overall, The Son of Neptune is a very enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to those who like books about adventures, prophecies–and those who are looking to get into mythologies. It’s a good book to discuss with kids too, because it talks about the importance of duty and sacrifice, which is something that hasn’t been dealt with in the previous Percy Jackson books.

That said though, I do fear for the lives of these characters in the coming books. Heroes of Olympus is shaping up to be darker than the Percy Jackson series.

Read what other people has to say about the book:
Islander Girl
Linda McCabe
Book Away

book: the lost hero

"the lost hero" by rick riordani am beginning to think that rick riordan writes greek/roman mythologies better than he does egyptian.

THE LOST HERO is the longest riordan book i’ve read, so far–but it’s every bit as entertaining as the shortest PERCY JACKSON book. the first novel off a new series that features camp half-blood, this one tells the story of jason, piper and leo; three new demigods who must answer the call of a new prophecy.

if the PERCY JACKSON series was told through the main character, and the KANE CHRONICLES‘s first book was told through the perspectives of a brother-sister tandem, the first book off HEROES OF OLYMPUS tells the story through three points-of-view. and unlike in THE RED PYRAMID (which is the first book off KANE CHRONICLES), the narrative in this book is smoother and less disjointed.

it probably helped that there were no annoying asides. and, as i mentioned before, greek/roman gods really are more mainstream than egyptian gods.

okay, here’s the backgrounder:

jason is a demigod with no memory of who he is, or what he is suddenly doing with two other demigods about to be kidnapped by storm spirits. and unlike other demigods we’ve met already, jason doesn’t seem to be familiar with greek mythology–but he is well-versed in its roman counterpart. also, he speaks latin. and on his first day at camp half-blood, he is given a quest to free a goddess trapped by a new enemy.

that’s the main plot of the story, and it is supplemented by two side stories that feature the other two main characters. piper is a demigod who doesn’t seem to be happy with her famous parents: a movie star and a god, who wouldn’t feel pressured, right? meanwhile, leo is a conflicted demigod who blames his abilities for the death of his mortal parent when he was a child.

unlike THE LIGHTNING THIEF (book 1 of the PERCY JACKSON series) and THE RED PYRAMID, THE LOST HERO doesn’t waste too much time setting things up. and it works for the book because our main protagonist, jason, doesn’t remember a thing. so the things that are brought up that should’ve read as set-up, actually play like integral parts of the plot.

but no book is perfect. THE LOST HERO suffers, i think, from the HARRY POTTER formula: the hero, the loyal friend, and the encyclopedia. do i have to name who’s who? unlike in PERCY JACKSON wherein your hero was flanked by a female warrior and a comic relief, THE LOST HERO‘s team reads a bit too much like harry, ron and hermione at times. the only difference is, in THE LOST HERO, the encyclopedia falls in love with the hero and not the friend.

that said, THE LOST HERO seems to have learned a lot from the mistakes of the PERCY JACKSON series. unlike in THE LIGHTNING THIEF where our characters traveled from one place to the other, and spent way too much time on the road; THE LOST HERO successfully gives our characters a mode of transport that takes them from one point to the other without too much travel time. in this way, the author successfully takes out the lulls that peppered THE LIGHTNING THIEF.

sure, we never actually saw the lulls in THE LIGHTNING THIEF. but in all the traveling they did, did you never wonder what the bad guys were doing? in THE LOST HERO, you got updates of what’s happening with the good guys and the bad guys!

i have to say, finishing THE LOST HERO, i can’t wait to read the next book off the HEROES OF OLYMPUS series: THE SON OF NEPTUNE.