Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus Book 1)
Rick Riordan
Pages: 553

Jason has problems. 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 his best friend is a guy named Leo. They’re all students at the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids,” as Leo puts it. What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly? Jason doesn’t know anything- except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret. Her father, a famous actor, has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare about his being in trouble. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits during the school trip, 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, whether she wants to or not.

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, and some camper who’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them- including Leo- is related to a god. Does this have anything to do with Jason’s amnesia, or the fact that Leo keeps seeing ghosts?

~description taken from book jacket

I’m a long time fan of Rick Riordan. I started his Percy Jackson series when it was first released, as proven by my copy of The Lightning Thief which has the hideous first edition cover before the publishing company decided to redesign it. I’m happy to say that the first installment of The Heroes of Olympus is just as good as the Percy Jackson books, if not better.

Before I start, I should give a caveat to readers- it’s probably not a good idea to start this series unless you’ve read the Percy Jackson books first. A ton of names and plot points from the Percy Jackson series are mentioned in quick succession at the start of The Lost Hero. Even as someone’s who’s read them but hasn’t picked them up in a couple of years, it was confusing. It’s definitely still possible to thoroughly enjoy The Lost Hero without this background, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

The Lost Hero alternates between the three new characters Jason, Piper and Leo. Each one is given two chapters and then the point of view switches to the next in line. Riordan doesn’t deviate from this pattern, which causes some problems in the first half of the book. For example, events from Jason’s sections will be recapped in Piper’s. Then Piper’s experience will be told again in Leo’s chapters. For a large chunk of the book I felt like I was just rereading the same thing over and over again, and it could have been fixed with some editing. Considering this book is exceedingly lengthy these passages would not have been missed. However, Riordan picks up his stride later on and this problem dissolves by the second half.

One thing I love about Riordan’s books is that he fills them with memorable, quirky characters. Normally when I read books that rotate narrators I find that I attach to one more easily than the others and often want to skip to that character’s next chapter. In this case, I loved all of them. I’m especially happy that the author included a female narrator in a series marketed predominantly towards boys. Riordan has always creating strong, smart female characters in his books, but writing about one in the first person takes it one step further. I’m sure a lot of middle school girls will be happy to read the story from Piper’s own perspective rather than just experiencing her through a boy’s eyes.

The Lost Hero is a fantastic start into a new series, and I’ll be first in line when the sequel comes out in October!

4/5 Stars

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