The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan were rereads for me, in preparation for reading the next book in the series. Here's the review I wrote after my first reading of The Lost Hero:
Jason, Piper, and Leo are not your average juvenile delinquents. Leo may be ADHD and a chronic runaway from every foster home he's ever been sent to, but he also has a strange affinity for mechanical objects . . . and fire. Piper may be a bit of a kleptomaniac -- or perhaps she's just really persuasive. After all, is it really stealing if you can talk the sales clerk in to just handing you the merchandise? And Jason . . . Jason doesn't really know who, or what, he is. All he knows is that he woke up in the back of a schoolbus between Leo and Piper, and they seem to have been friends with him for months. Jason doesn't remember any of it, or anything else about his life, including his last name. There are some vague hints, including a mysterious tattoo and a heavy gold coin that turns into a sword when he flips it (a javelin, if it comes up tails), but before Jason can even piece together a few basic facts, he's in the middle of a fight with some nasty wind spirits on an observation platform over the Grand Canyon, and he, Leo, and Piper are fighting for their lives. Fortunately, they are able to hold off until a back-up crew arrives, and they are whisked away in a flying chariot to a place called Camp Half-Blood. Even there, however, Jason finds few answers to his many questions about his identity, his family, and his quest.
Fans of Riordan's Percy Jackson series will be ecstatic to pick up this first book in a new series about the demigods of Camp Half-Blood. Many favorite characters make appearances, but in this book, the action follows the three newcomers -- and there's certainly plenty of action, as the three face new challenges on a (sometimes literally) whirlwind quest to rescue the kidnapped goddess Hera before the Winter Solstice. Meanwhile, the campers of Camp Half-Blood are preoccupied by the disappearance of Percy Jackson. Clever, mythology-savvy readers will be able to piece together the mysteries of Jason's identity, Percy's disappearance, and Hera's capture (and yes, the three are all related) before the big reveal at the end, but whether they do or not, all of Riordan's fans are certain to enjoy the ride. It's best, though not essential, to read the Percy Jackson series before starting this book, in order to obtain background information.
In The Son of Neptune, the focus shifts back to Percy Jackson, but he's not at Camp Half-Blood. Like Jason in The Lost Hero, Percy has lost most of his memories, and he finds himself at a camp that feels both right and wrong. Camp Jupiter is home to the demigod children of the Roman pantheon -- and Rome never had a lot of affection for Neptune and the sea. When Mars appears and issues a quest, Percy and two other misfit demigods set out for Alaska, known as "the land beyond the gods." In the far north, Percy and his companions won't be able to rely on help from their godly parents, and they face challenges from giants and monsters, as well as dealing with their own personal issues.
Like all of Riordan's books, this was a lot of fun to read. The new characters, Frank and Hazel, are sweet and likable. There is plenty of action, of course, and lots of Riordan's trademark humor (the part with the Amazons was my favorite). This is an enjoyable read for fans of the series.
(Reviewed from my personally purchased copies.)