Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

In The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan, the Prophecy of the Seven begins to come together as Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel, and Leo are united in a quest that will take them across the ocean to Rome and beyond.

The quest does not begin smoothly. Mysterious forces are at work to ensure that the old conflict between the Greek and Roman demigods persists. The two camps seem to be on track for a deadly battle as the Seven travel together toward the Mediterranean, a sea that is home to legendary monsters and patently unfriendly to demigods. And conflict stirs in the angsty teenage hearts of the seven demigods who travel there, as well. . . .

So, of course I enjoyed this book. Naturally, I would recommend starting at the beginning of the Percy Jackson series and going from there, in order to appreciate all of the backstory, but fans of the series will find this book on par with its predecessors. A few caveats: the ending is more of a cliffhanger than we've seen so far -- not enough to be painful, but certainly enough to make me more than usually impatient for the next book. Also, as I rather snarkily implied above, there's more teenage angst in this book than in any of the earlier books -- mostly a product of putting seven teens together in a confined space, six of whom are couples at various stages in their relationships, and two of whom are boys who are used to being in positions of leadership, and don't take kindly to being put in second place in any given situation. Riordan has created seven strong and distinct characters, but not all of them get to be point-of-view characters in this story, which may disappoint some fans.

On the other hand, I'm always amazed at the depth and breadth of research that the author must do in order to keep coming up with authentic monsters, gods, and heroes to populate this series. I often booktalk the Percy Jackson books to parents and teachers as having a "sneaky educational" aspect to it -- I know I have learned stuff about Greek and Roman mythology from the series! I can't wait to see what happens to the characters in the next installment.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)