Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Lost Hero [Review]

Title: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Series: Heroes of Olympus, #1
Genre: Fantasy
What They Say: 

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god. 

What I Say:
Okay, so. Not-so-secret: I love love loved the Percy Jackson series. Oh boy, where to start? When I was in the 9-12 age-range, there were never any good books to read (I mean, sure there was Harry Potter, but even that got old to me), so I’m extremely impressed by Rick Riordan, who came out with a kids’ book series that 1) promotes childhood awesomeness 2) teaches culture-deprived American kids about Greek Mythology, and 3) transcends age-groups and reading levels with its mind-bending awesomeness. I’m completely serious, if you haven’t picked up the Percy Jackson series, go do it right now. Anyway, The Lost Hero is the first book in Riordan’s new series, set in the same world as the first. It’s got blond amnesiacs, neurotic weathermen, and may induce vertigo. That said…

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
(So, first off, if you've never even heard of Percy Jackson, you probably won't might not understand any of this. That's cool. Read about it anyway, haha.) Meet Jason. He's kind of like Jason Bourne in that he just woke up on a bus and has no idea who he is, he's in constant danger, and he's a bit of a badass. He's unlike Jason Bourne in pretty much every other way. So, he's on this bus on a field trip at a school he's never heard of with two best friends (Piper and Leo) he's never met. Suddenly, they're being attacked by mythical creatures and their gym coach is a satyr and - weirdest of all - Jason kind of understands this stuff, despite having absolutely no memories. The three are quickly taken to Camp Half-Blood, where demigod children spend their summers. Yeah, one of each of their parents is a Greek god. And again, somehow Jason knows something about all this. When a goddess goes missing and dark stuff starts stirring up again, the three are sent off on a quest to save her, at possibly great personal cost. Great cost like their lives. And that's just the beginning.

Among Rick Riordan's many talents is his knack for telling a story. Some authors have this thing where they try to have at least one interesting point on each page, to hold attention. Well, on average, there are at least three interesting points on each page of The Lost Hero. Especially if you know a little Greek/Roman mythology on the side. Ooh, did I say Roman? Why would I say that...? (You'll see, tee-hee.) Like always when reading a series, I can't pass too strong judgment on the plot because I don't know what's going to happen next. But book one sets you up so throughly for book two that I can't believe it's a year until the next one comes out. So not to spoiler all over the place (I'm getting better at this!) these kids come close to death at least twice as often as Percy and Annabeth ever did. But maybe that's because of their modes of transportation...

Characters: wow
Now I like a mysterious badass. It takes a lot of skill, though, to toe the line between intriguing and Oh my god, you have so many secrets! I don't even care anymore! Luckily, Jason is intriguing without being a headache, which may be attributed to the fact that, with the rotating point-of-views, we get to see inside his head every once in a while. He's lighter on the snark than Percy, and he has to be saved a lot more. I'm waiting on the next book to see his inner badass finally unleashed, as I'm sure it will.

Piper. While I very quickly tired of her Noo, I have to betray my friends! angst, there is something oddly gratifying about girls defying gender-norms. And I haven't seen a character called Piper since Charmed went off the air. So kudos.

Oh Leo. The Brock of this series. And the Ron Weasley. Crazy for girls when girls never even notice him. Shadowed by the general greatness of his best friend (which I'm glad was lampshaded early on so it won't be a pesky plot device later). Also - and come on, this isn't really a spoiler - fire powers are awesome, but always such a source of angst. Except, I guess, for the human torch guy from Fantastic Four. Broken homes are also sources of angst. And dead parents. Yeah, lots of angst.

Relationships: ooh
Jason and Piper - A note about Rick Riordan: he is all about the teasing and not about the pleasing,and he is also all about the boys-can't-be-cool-when-talking-to-girls-no-matter-how-badass-they-are thing. So do we get a Jason-Piper kiss? Or even a Jason-Piper confession of True Like? Child, this is only book one, so of course not! But stay tuned, because if this series follows Percy Jackson's love schedule, we should be seeing some awkward hand-holding by at least book three.

Special Features: WHOA.
So, as I mentioned earlier. Both the Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus series focus on Greek mythology. In my twelve years of education, my classes taught Greek mythology for a week in second grade and a week in eighth when we read The Odyssey in English class. So these books, while being thoroughly entertaining, also taught me quite a lot about it. I feel all warm and fuzzy thinking of all the kids who are getting to learn this stuff through Riordan's books, so yeah. 'WHOA' is right.

Parting Quotes:

“It’s too dangerous,” Jason said. “You shouldn’t go by yourself.”
“Ah, I got duct tape and breath mints. I’ll be fine," said Leo.
The thing about these books is: I could quote, like, every other sentence.

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