Book: The Blood of Olympus

"The Blood of Olympus"

Nico had warned them. Going through the House of Hades would stir the demigods’ worst memories. Their ghosts would become restless. Nico may actually become a ghost if he has to shadow-travel with Reyna and Coach Hedge one more time. But that might be better than the alternative: allowing someone else to die, as Hades foretold.

Jason’s ghost is his mother, who abandoned him when he was little. He may not know how he is going to prove himself as a leader, but he does know that he will not break promises like she did. He will complete his line of the prophecy: To storm or fire the world must fall.

Reyna fears the ghosts of her ancestors, who radiate anger. But she can’t allow them to distract her from getting the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood before war breaks out between the Romans and Greeks. Will she have enough strength to succeed, especially with a deadly hunter on her trail?

Leo fears that his plan won’t work, that his friends might interfere. But there is no other way. All of them know that one of the Seven has to die in order to defeat Gaea, the Earth Mother.

Piper must learn to give herself over to fear. Only then will she be able to do her part at the end: utter a single word.

Heroes, gods, and monsters all have a role to play in the climactic fulfillment of the prophecy in The Blood of Olympus, the electrifying finale of the best-selling Heroes of Olympus series.

I had no expectations coming in to this last book off the Heroes of Olympus series. Mostly because I didn’t like the book that preceded it. House of Hades felt cluttered and all over the place. And honestly? I feared the same would happen in the last book with so many loose ends needed to be tied up still.

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. Rick Riordan manages to give proper spotlight to all the characters without short-changing anyone. Yes, I would have preferred more time for Percy, Annabeth, and especially Grover, but that’s mostly because I came into Heroes of Olympus wanting to catch up with their characters. I’ve grown accustomed to Jason and the new host of characters, and I actually do like some of the new ones as much as I do the old ones. So much so that I wouldn’t mind if author Riordan releases another series featuring the whole gang. Or maybe just a one-off.

Going back to The Blood of Olympus, what I liked most about it was the palpable tension you feel as events unravel. It’s pretty much common knowledge by now that Riordan prefers his chapters to be brimming with action, to the point that a scene of introspection surprises when it pops up. But this last book has a good balance of the action and the introspection, and I feel like Riordan has realized that his readership is growing up. Which is a good thing, because while an action-packed book is thrilling when you read it, it’s character development that keeps you going back. It’s character growth that makes you want to stay with a series.

I mean, look at Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin. The action is repetitive, as a book about the zombie apocalypse is wont to be, but because our characters are growing every chapter, every book, you want to keep moving forward with them. You want to stick with them. And whenever something bad happens, you hope that they survive whatever it is they have to go through. And then there’s James Dashner’s Mortality Doctrine series. Everything is new, but the characters feel like retreads. They don’t grow, they just flow with the plot. And suddenly you’re justifying to yourself why you have to finish the book. And you shouldn’t have to justify when you’re immersed. When you’re involved.

And that’s what Riordan has done in the final book off the Heroes of Olympus series. He makes the readers involved. There is something at stake, and as the characters reach the end of the prophecy they’ve received, you can see them growing up to become better people–you see them making decisions that you know doesn’t come from the author’s desire to make a book action-packed. The decisions come from characters whose previous adventures have molded them to become who they are in the final pages.

That’s what’s makes a book series satisfying. The realization that you have gone somewhere, that you have learned something, and that you did not waste your time.

Rick Riordan, although I still do not like House of Hades, I thank you for not wasting my time.

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 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: 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.

the red pyramid

"the red pyramid" by rick riordanto be honest, i wasn’t completely sold on buying THE RED PYRAMID yet. i held off from buying the PERCY JACKSON series until my mom bought the whole set (and then, i borrowed it from her) so i was thinking of doing the same thing with this release. after all, the wait would be shorter as this is supposedly part of a trilogy, not a series.

but in the end, curiosity won out. bought the book, and i finished it within the day.

what THE RED PYRAMID has working for it is that the PERCY JACKSON series was highly successful. which means people would be curious with rick riordan‘s other work. and that’s a good thing, because contrary to what the author says, egyptian mythology is not as popular as greek or roman mythology. it does okay, don’t get me wrong. but aside from the few popular ones, and the ankh, people don’t go around invoking egyptian gods and goddesses in daily conversations. unlike their greek or roman counterparts.

that aside, THE RED PYRAMID was an enjoyable read. it stars two heroes, and we follow two different perspectives, but only one journey. i was initially worried that it would come off as confusing, what with following two different narrators–but that fear was quickly put to rest within the first few chapters. you see, the book is presented as a transcript of a series of recorded messages. a very good way of making the characters, and the fantastical events, easy to relate to. because it feels like you’re reading a friend’s or a colleague’s accounts of their very interesting christmas vacation.

what i didn’t like so much was the small interruptions the “narrators” put in. i know that we’re to believe the conceit that it is just a transcript–but the interruptions actually derailed me while reading. i get it that their siblings, and siblings tease each other while the other is talking (i have sisters, i know what i’m saying), but in THE RED PYRAMID, it doesn’t add anything to the story. it actually distracts.

but aside from this one complaint, THE RED PYRAMID as a whole was very enjoyable. it’s certainly different enough from the PERCY JACKSON series that it doesn’t feel like a retread of the teenagers-as-gods storyline, but it doesn’t deviate so much from the successful formula that this feels like a cheap knock-off.

what i like about the book most is this one moment when a character tells our protagonists that she’s not very fond of manhattan because there are other gods there. i see this as an establishing moment wherein the characters in this series are affirming that it’s in the same universe as the other series. and i for one am looking forward to a crossover event–or even just a moment. wouldn’t it be funny for the kane siblings to suddenly bump into percy jackson in one of their journeys? the kanes are in brooklyn and camp half-blood is just over at long island. it’s impossible that they don’t bump into each other sooner or later.

do i recommend the book? definitely. especially since by book’s end,  there are no immediate mysteries that one must quickly have the answer for. i mean, there are hanging story threads–but not like the ones in THE DREAMHOUSE KINGS series by robert liparulo that would keep you sleepless for a few days while you wonder what happens in the next book. but they’re intriguing enough that you definitely know that you’ll be buying the next book in the trilogy as soon as it’s released.