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4 Stars: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan is the second book of the second series and continues the story of young demigods who must forge friendships and figure out to use their unique gifts in a race to save the world …. again.

When I (Barbara) finished The Lost Hero, I knew I would be working my way through the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.  I had minored in classical studies during college and appreciate Riordan’s modern extension of the Perseus archetype into a light but engaging series for young adults. This book was my personal copy, and there aren’t any spoilers for The Son of Neptune, but there are some for The Lost Hero. If you haven’t read the first book, check out Anya’s review of The Lost Hero instead.
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Title: The Son of Neptune
Author: Rick Riordan
Length: 513 pages
Genre-ish: YA Fantasy (set in our world)
Rating★★★light and easy read

Setting: In The Son of Neptune, not only are the Greek gods real, but so are the Roman ones.  While they are technically the same gods, the Roman aspects of the 12 Olympian gods are more stern, serious, and disciplined — but they still fall in love with mortals and have demigod children.  The young Roman demigods, like the Greeks we met in the first series and in the Lost Hero, inherit traits and powers from their godly parents, speak Latin like a senator in the forum, have a special, secret camp, and are the favorite snack of monsters.  Mere mortals are kept unaware of this by the Mist, which obscures reality and keeps us unaware of the battles between the gods and various powers that want to destroy the world and its inhabitants.

Premise: This time, Percy Jackson is the one with amnesia and monsters hot on his tail.  He ends up at Camp Jupiter where he is as out of place as a Greek among Romans. One Roman in particular remembers who he is … and that he is not exactly on her favorites list.  Still, Percy makes friends and ends up on a trip to Alaska to save the world.  As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Juno/Hera is putting together a dream team from BOTH Camp Jupiter and Camp Half-Blood to defeat Gaea — the personification of the earth — who will threaten Mount Olympus itself before the end of the series.

Strengths:

  • Riordan’s writing is wonderful to read.  He is descriptive without being too wordy, immersing the reader in the scenes he weaves.  We come to see the world through the points of view of each of the major characters, which are interleaved without confusion.
  • Riordan also uses humor to good effect in The Son of Neptune to keep the tone of the story light.  If the heroes are joking in the face of adversity, how bad can it be, right?
  • I love the friendships that develop between the heroes.  They feel right and develop at an appropriate pace out of shared principles, choices, and actions.
  • In The Son of Neptune, each character has his or her strengths and weaknesses.  Often the heroes complement each other, which shows young readers the value of collaboration and valuing one’s own gifts.  But the heroes also show that you don’t necessarily have to like doing what you are good at.  The son of the god of war does not particularly like what he inherited from his father – but these abilities are used wisely save the day on a number of occasions.
  • Although the Son of Neptune occurs at about the same time as The Lost Hero, it was not repetitious.  The two stories run parallel until the very end when the two sets of heroes meet, leaving the reader to wonder who will comprise the seven heroes of the prophecy.

Weaknesses:

  •  The formula is beginning to be a bit too repetitious.  The frantic journey of less than a week to get somewhere, find something, and save the world at the last minute is exciting but … tired.  And having a hero with a guilty secret – again – seemed definitely like a lazy way to bring in dramatic tension. 
  • The female characters are strong and gifted, but after a series and two books, I’m hoping that the third book will really let Annabeth shine as the daughter of Athena.

Summary:

If you have been enjoying the two series up to this point, you should enjoy The Son of Neptune as well.  It has some interesting variations to throw at you but keeps the winning formula intact.

- Barbara

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

© 2013, Guest. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. Great review, especially the strengths and weaknesses sections. My daughter loves these; I loved the first series, but I’m trying to hold out until this series is complete before reading them. I may not make it!

  2. I loved it because The Lost Hero just amped up how much I was looking forward to reading about Percy again, and I was not disappointed. I missed Percy being awesome, and you have new characters getting to relate to him (or hate him haha) as the goofy sassy kid he was at the beginning of the series instead of some big hero, but slowly realizing how awesome and powerful he really is. I’m a huge fan of these books because of the characterization. Sometimes the story might be a little repetitive, but the characters make it new, fresh, and exciting every time :D

    • I know. I should have given it 4.5 stars. I love the way the kinda nerdy kids get to be heros … and Riordan shows that not all “weaknesses” really are so – in the right circumstances, the heros shine because of their unique qualities.

      These came out too late to really be formative for my daughter – I think Hermione Granger gets the credit for being the brainy heroine in her childhood – but I hope parents share these books with their kids to spark the imagination and inspire them.

  3. I agree about the formulaic stories – though I think Riordan’s skill is getting better since the first Percy Jackson books. Hopefully he’ll break out of his formula soon, as well.

    • I’m also quite looking forward to Riordan trying something outside of this series formula to see what he comes up with ;-)

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