The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan
576 pages. (hardback)
Percy Jackson fans can rest easy: this first book in Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus spin-off series is a fast-paced adventure with enough familiar elements to immediately hook those eager to revisit his modern world of mythological mayhem. Clever plot devices–like gods who shift back and forth between their Greek and Roman personae–keep the book from feeling like a retread of Riordan’s previous novels. Jason, Piper, and Leo, three students at a wilderness school for troubled teens, are transported to Camp Half-Blood after an unexpected encounter with evil storm spirits on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Not only do they discover that they are the offspring of ancient gods, but they also learn that they are three of seven demigods mentioned in the Great Prophecy uttered by Rachel in The Last Olympian. Wasting little time acclimating to their new lives, the three embark upon a quest to preserve Mt. Olympus and the divine status quo, by rescuing an erstwhile enemy. Rotating among his three protagonists, Riordan’s storytelling is as polished as ever, brimming with wit, action, and heart–his devotees won’t be disappointed. Ages 10 — up. (Oct.) Publishers Weekly.
I can’t say much more, as Publishers Weekly summed up Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero beautifully. Although, I suppose I would add to the second sentence. The “clever plot devices” mostly “keep the book from feeling like a retread.” I cannot criticize a successful formula (as I enjoy the comforts of a few myself) and Riordan is working from an old formula, the hero’s quest.
The shifting between the Greek and Roman personae is very clever, and the premise from which Riordan is working from surpasses the first Olympus series. Also, Jason is not annoying (as I found Percy to be).
Besides the length of this first book in a new spin-off series, 576 pages to The Lightning Thief’s 384 pages, the series differs in the shifting of point-of-views. In The Red Pyramid, the first book of the Egyptian Myth Kane Chronicles Series, Riordan made the move to alternating narrators, proving he is successful at maintaining voices. Readers also found that the story unfolded rather nicely, garnering information unique to each character while maintaining the suspense when the Reader had to wait for narrators to change to learn something potentially important.
The Lost Hero shifts between Mythological personae and three different characters. Riordan is not hard to follow. He lets you figure things out, while holding a few cards for his own. Using lesser know Myth Stories doesn’t hurt. Though, how Piper knows more than we were supposing early on in the story, I can’t figure out. Her little bit of research seems to have been enough. And again the “I know things” female role (in the trio with two boys) goes to Hermione Annabeth Piper.
The Lost Hero unapologetically hurtles itself toward the next (I’m guessing) two books maybe three? I know the next, Son of Neptune, is announced for Fall 2011. The reader is reminded of the prophecy that Rachel Dare imparts at the end of the Percy Jackson series. The greater plot is set in motion, and the pace is as precipitous as Riordan books have proven over and over. No rest for the weary, especially when there is a lot to pack in. That he can still be entertaining, that he can still provide character building, is to Riordan’s credit. The characters are spared complete cliché status—yet again. Riordan is getting better.
I have to say, The Lost Hero is better if you’ve read the Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series. Riordan informs the reader of past occurrences easily enough, and I don’t think the read would be indecipherable without the first, but it would be more enjoyable. Your emotional investment would be higher as well. For those who love Percy Jackson, you are an immediate audience for this series.
So, new heroes, new twists, a new Quest that promises greater action.
A few things I appreciate about this The Lost Hero:
Leo is a strong character, not merely side-kick to Jason. He is a hero as well, and important. Also, I like that he is Hispanic (and he isn’t white-washed on the cover). He is the comedian of the group, but that he isn’t relegated to the side-kick role, and is still a source of charming humor is marvelous.
Piper is part Cherokee. I like that Riordan uses this to include Native American Mythology into the story. He draws parallels and so not only do the Greek and Roman have shifting personae, there are Native American ones as well; the same with constellations.
The ending of the book. A perfectly timed, well worded, launch into the next book. I was determined to finish the book, grumbling over the formula, but I found myself invested in a few of the characters. And then there is the part where I am very much intrigued by some of the probable conflicts to follow in the next books. The last sentence is the sort where the screen goes black and you are given the half-minute pause before the credits roll. I have to wait until Fall 2011?!
So, 576 pages are a lot. But Riordan is good with action, he is charming with the romances, and his sense of humor is sharp and perfectly suited to his audience (middle-grade & up). He is a good writer and storyteller. He has this annoying capability to be informative and entertaining, all while communicating themes we need and like to hear…and he is only getting better.