Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Red Pyramid - for Tween Tuesday

Tween Tuesday was started over at Green Bean Teen Queen as away to highlight awesome books for the 9-12 yr olds or Tweens. Any book highlighted on Tween Tuesday also counts for the In the Middle Reading Challenge! This week's book is:

Riordan, Rick. The Red Pyramid. New York: Disney - Hyperion Books, 2010. Print. The Kane Chronicles 1.
[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/9277689]

Carter and Sadie don't see each other often. When their mother died, their mother's parents were granted custody of Sadie, and Carter went with their father. Everywhere. Dr. Julius Kane, Sadie and Carter's father, is an Egyptologist who travels the world doing research and giving lectures. Living with him, Carter has had experiences other kids can only dream about. He's also missed out on some "normal" kid stuff, like learning that it's not cool, or even okay, to wear loafers. Sadie, on the other hand, has had her fill of normalcy and is dying (her hair at least) for a little excitement. When something goes horribly wrong during Carter and their father's annual visit with Sadie, Carter and Sadie must learn to work together and trust each other, an uncle they never knew they had, and a cat in order to save their father from Set, the Egyptian god of the desert. Oh, and the world. They have to save that too.

Rick Riordan has done it again! He's taken kids who could be normal, personality-wise if not in circumstance this time, linked them up with a deity and set them loose. This time, the kids are not children of gods, but the children of former members of a society (of magicians!) dating back to the time of the Pharaohs that is dedicated to serving/controlling the gods of Egypt. Carter and Sadie are more powerful than most because of their lineage, but there is a Harry Potter-esque it-could-be-anyone thing going on that will open up the rest of the series for a lot of interesting sidekicks. At this point in the series there are only a few kids still training in this society, one of whom is already set up as the girl Carter will embarrassingly and awkwardly crush on for probably the rest of the series, but I'm sure Riordan will bring in a whole cast of interesting kids by the end.

The whole story is told from both Sadie and Carter's points of view in, more or less, alternating chapters. I really liked getting to see the story unfold through both of their eyes. The changing point of view didn't bog down the story, really, since everything was still told in sequence with little to no instances of both characters covering the same event. I did wish, however, that their was a bit more of a difference between their voices. When they're actually talking, there is plenty of difference between proper, nerdy Carter and punky, spunky Sadie, but when they're narrating they're not all that different. Every once in a while Sadie, as narrator, gets riled up about something and it's really clear that she's the one telling the story (the name of the narrator is on every page to help with that as well), but for the most part both of them just sound like Riordan.

Something that is mentioned on multiple occasions but is far from a focal point of the story is that Sadie and Carter's father is black and their mother was white. Both of the kids are biracial, but neither of them looks it. They have that mini-me thing going on with their parents: Sadie looks astonishingly like her mother and Carter looks just like his dad. In the beginning of the book, Sadie talks about how, without her mother there, people question her relationship to Carter and their father because she's so clearly white and they so clearly aren't. She talks about how annoying it is, on the few days a year that they get to spend together, that people question whether or not she belongs in her family. This is, of course, complicated because she doesn't feel like she belongs due to the very limited amount of time they are actually on the same continent. Also near the beginning, Carter expresses his envy of Sadie's normal life with their grandparents. He feels hurt and rejected because his grandparents fought so hard for Sadie and not for him. While I was reading, I wondered about that; why did their grandparents only fight for the grandchild that looks like them? There is a magically influences reason for why they only went to court for custody of Sadie, but I didn't feel like Carter really processed that information when he found out. Maybe because he wasn't thinking about it in the same way that I was, he didn't need the cathartic breakthrough that I was looking for. It was enough, for him, to know that without magical influence his grandparents may have fought just as hard to hold on to their grandson as they did their granddaughter. This is all balanced out by Sadie's feelings of abandonment because she was left with their grandparents rather than being allowed on the road with Carter and their dad, so maybe I'm reading too much into the situation.

Family issues aside (and I'm paying more attention to them here than was paid in the book), I love that Carter and Sadie's race was a non-issue. I do wish that both of them had been presented as biracial characters, or that they even saw themselves that way, rather than one white and one black, but I'm glad that this did not pick up elements of a "problem novel" about a biracial family. It is simply a fantasy book with biracial main characters!

Book source: Philly Free Library

1 comment:

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I started reading this one-have yet to finish though! It just didn't grab me as much as the Percy series did. And I agree-there really isn't a distinct voice in the narration-that only comes out in the conversations.