Friday, February 6, 2015

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

It has been a 10-book journey with Percy Jackson, the demigods of modern time, and the gods of Olympus. I've been with them the whole way, first as they saved the world from Kronos and then as they defeated Gaea. It has been a long ride, but so much fun. The good thing about it being a 10-book experience is that I feel satiated with the series ending. I don't need another book to add any more to the shape of the characters. This ending feels right and I can let everyone go on to live the rest of their (fictional) lives without intruding further. 

The final book in Riordan's second series involving mythological Greek goods puts Roman and Greek demigods on the brink of civil war as Gaea rises to destroy everything. The gods aren't any help as each wars within themselves between their Greek persona and their Roman. As long as the demigods are against each other, Gaea will rise unopposed and win. It's up to two groups of demigods who were able to look past their heritage to come together - to become a family. One team sails to Athens to try and stop Gaea from rising even though it has been prophesied that their blood will aid in her ascension. The other rushes to the front lines of battle at Camp Half Blood, a gigantic statue of Athena in tow, the only thing that can stop war from breaking out. It takes the skills and talents of both Greeks and Romans working together to win the day.

As big as the story is on one level - the world ending, large groups of people going to war, traveling around the world, etc. You're only following a few main characters so you really feel like you're a part of the action. And although I sometimes had trouble remembering who was who as far as back-story went, Riordan does a great job of jogging the reader's memory as he goes along with the story. There wasn't anyone I didn't like as far as the good guys go and they were all very different in personality. I hated the bad guys, cheered for the good, and was properly annoyed by the gods' inability to get themselves together. The action-packed final chapter definitely delivered, and after such a long investment, it was a refreshing change to not be disappointed at the end (see Hunger Games.)

Action-packed as all these books are, there's never really a dull moment in the story. Even when a character is taking a minute to reflect or process some new knowledge, there is so much coming on the horizon, you, the reader, don't really get to take a breath. I like that in a book. I appreciate how hard it really is to come up with so much and not make it feel forced. It doesn't feel forced in this book. Things have to happen fast, time is running out.

This is the longest I've stayed with one character in a series that I can recall. I more often go for the trilogy - keeping it short and sweet, but this has been worth the investment. I know these are YA novels and I know the movies of the first two Percy Jackson books may leave something to be desired, but the books are just great reads overall. They're fun and powerful at the same time, focusing on bigger issues of friendship, finding your place in the world, figuring out who you are as a person and being okay with that person, accepting differences in others, and finding strength when life throws you those crazy curve balls. I would definitely recommend these books to the YA reader's out there, regardless of your actual age. It may take some time to get through them all, but it's worth it.