Friday 30 January 2015

Book Review - The Son of Neptune

The Son of Neptune
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Heroes of Olympus #2
Genres: Mythology, Urban Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 4th October 2011
Publishers: Puffin
No. Pages: 513
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, God of the Sea, has woken from a very deep sleep and come face to face with two snake-haired ladies who refuse to die. But they're the least of his problems. Because Percy finds himself at a camp for half-bloods, which doesn't ring any bells for him. There's just one name he remembers from his past. Annabeth.

Only one thing is certain - Percy's questing days aren't over. He and fellow demigods Frank and Hazel must face the most important quest of all: The Prophecy of Seven.

If they fail, it's not just their camp at risk.
Percy's old life, the gods and the entire world might be destroyed..

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

Well well well, it's.. interesting to have you back Percy.
After what was a highly enjoyable first instalment to Riordan's Heroes of Olympus series, I had expected great things from it's sequel, especially after hearing and later understanding that Percy would return and would, in many ways, be following a journey similar to Jason's, but I must confess to feeling a little deflated with The Son of Neptune's turn of events, and it's feel and vibe. In comparison to The Lost Hero, The Son of Neptune just didn't feel as strong as it should have and this, understandably, made me a little sad.

Unlike with most novels where there's a stand out issue that effects the level of enjoyment I have with a novel, The Son of Neptune had quite a few, almost minor issues, that when combined, resulted in something not so minor. The first of these minor issues, was in fact, (please don't hurt me) Percy, and I honestly think this is entirely understandable. Unlike with Jason in TLH, where we learn more about him at the same time he remembers things about himself, reading about Percy going through the same thing was more frustrating than fascinating because, as somebody who had already read and enjoyed Percy's previous adventures in the Olympians series, I already knew close to everything he actually had to remember about himself, which in turn made those moments drag a little - definitely not what you want in a sequel following a high action read. The second issue was that both Hazel and Frank's backgrounds which are told to us further into the novel felt a little - well, information dumpy. In a little of cases, I can handle information dumping, it's easier, quicker and in some cases, better to drop a specific level of information onto the reader, and then delve into this information slower further into the novel, but with Son of Neptune already feeling slower and less active than it's prequel, this information overload really did not compliment Riordan's style in previous reads. The third and final issue I had with Son of Neptune was that it wasn't, in comparison to TLH, the high action read I had hoped for. I understand (and explain in a few minutes) that Percy, Hazel and Frank were the perspectives we had in order to learn more about and experience Camp Jupiter, but I do feel as though the exciting action scenes that Riordan writes so well were directly affected by this, and this also, played in a part in why Son of Neptune felt like a much slower read for me.

However, what Riordan traded some of these scenes for, the education and learning of Camp Jupiter, was actually really quite intriguing and I admit to really enjoying the difference and comparison between Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter. Learning more about Roman Mythology, more about how the gods changed and were influenced by the world they later lived in, was really, for a mythology obsessed nutter like myself, really exciting, not to mention learning more about the skills their demi-god children acquired, and more about the history of legacies, myths and of course, even more mythological creatures was just fantastic. Nobody can take away Riordan's talent for mixing the mythological with the urban 21st century world and I cannot deny that what Riordan does, his talent for creating characters (we'll get to them soon) and a world so vivid and believable, is absolutely world class, because it is, and it's foolish to think otherwise.

Yet what Riordan, in my opinion, excels at on the same level as creating his worlds is creating his characters and not only that, but always referring, linking and creating understandable, logical and even almost real-to-life connections between the characters, their histories and even to mythology that has been documented; there's no denying that Riordan does his research. It's no surprise that I did still enjoy Percy's perspective and being back in his perspective was welcoming in some ways, but reading about him developing and changing with the influence of those in Camp Jupiter, of Frank and Hazel, was the most enjoyable feature. At the end of the Olympians series, Percy was still young and child-like, but he had already experienced a lot of expectations and lost so much previously, yet in Son of Neptune, he felt and seemed different and this was in many ways both good and bad - good because he was finding himself again and becoming who he wanted to be, delving deeper into his powers and skills as a demi-god, but also learning that being the Son of Poseidon isn't what gives you a claim to fame for everyone, that sometimes you need to be yourself, yet bad because he felt like a different person, he had less sarcasm and less snark, therefore connecting easily to him was difficult. Hazel and Frank however fell much in line with Jason, Piper and Leo in TLH - they were new characters and learning more about them, watching them develop throughout the novel, becoming themselves and learning to be more than their parents children, using their past experiences as something to push them forwards, it was wonderful, not to mention how beautiful their friendship (and romance!) was and just how much they confided, understood and relied on one another, it was really a wonderful feature to read about. Seeing Hazel become confident, brave and upstanding, not only for herself, but for Frank and Percy was wonderful, and watching Frank sacrifice his life literally for his friends, his family and his future was just as wonderful. Even seeing the touches of family continuing throughout the novel and Riordan's writing, the connection between Hazel and Nico, Percy and his Mother (no matter how fleeting) and Frank and his Grandmother, this feature is always such an important one, and I love that Riordan continued to use it.

While the Son of Neptune didn't feel as strong as TLH was, it did have it's own positives; it delved deeper into other cultures and other races more than I feel Riordan had before, (maybe this was complimented by his writing Kane Chronicles during Heroes of Olympus), which was so utterly beautiful to see, and it created and introduced characters that I have taken in instant liking to and developed connections too. Riordan's Urban Fantasy world is always superb, as it his use of molding the myth and legend with the world of today, so continuing to recommend his work is almost second nature to me, yet there's one thing Riordan always succeeds in - creating a need and want to read anything that follows, and I have a funny little feeling that seeing the characters from both TLH and Son of Neptune come together might just result in one very happy, very giddy Amanda.

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