Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Lost Hero - 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 Lost Hero. New York: Disney - Hyperion Books for Children, 2010. Print. The Heroes of Olympus 1.
[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/9822197]

Camp Half-Blood is packed, even in the winter. With the addition of new cabins for all the minor gods' children and everyone being claimed by the time they're 13, there are a ton more Heroes roaming around. But things still aren't going swimmingly. Zeus has closed Olympus and is not allowing the gods to talk to their mortal children. Artemis, even, is cut off from her huntresses. And Percy's missing. No matter where Rachel's predictions send Annabeth looking, she can't find him.

But this story isn't about all that, not really. It's about Piper, Leo and Jason. Three half-bloods with special gifts: Piper can convince anyone to do just about anything, Leo is amazingly good with his hands and can make an engine out of just about anything, and Jason, well, at the moment Jason can't remember anything. They've been hidden away at a school for delinquents, all unclaimed even though they're well beyond 13, but chosen by the gods since birth for what they must do now.

The Lost Hero totally fulfilled all my wishes and desires for it. It's still Camp Half-Blood (even if Chiron is especially cranky and unhelpful in this go-round), but it's not just more of the same. We're not so far into the future that Percy and Annabeth are former legends, nor are we so close to the end of the last Percy book that we have to sit around and watch them make out all the time. They're not even main characters in this story, just cameo characters. The addition of the children of all the minor gods makes everything a bit more hectic and crowded and crazy, but the explanations of the various gods and their traits are still there. Not only do we get Piper, Leo and Jason as new characters, but there are a bunch of new potentially important folks back at camp as well. And (this is a bit spoilery, so highlight to read) San Francisco was never really evil! But that last one is probably only important to me.

I couldn't have asked for more, and I doubt other fans of the Percy Jackson books could either.

The Lost Hero is told from the perspectives of Piper, Leo and Jason. While they all kind of sound alike (see my criticism of the alternative viewpoints in Riordan's The Red Pyramid), I never got them mixed up during the story. This may be more because of what is going on in each of their heads rather than distinction of voice. Even though they're all on the same quest and living through the same adventures/dangers, they're not remotely going through the same things. Each of their lives really has been leading up to this quest and they're just now starting to figure out how. Piper is going through all kinds of internal torment because she has been basically told that she'll double-cross the other two (not to mention that all her memories of Jason, who she thought was her boyfriend, are probably a product of some super-potent Mist). Leo is seeing his former babysitter Tia Callida (who encouraged playing with both fire and knives) and is figuring out connections between her, the weird circumstances surrounding his mother's death, and the prophecy he, Piper and Jason are meant to be fulfilling. And poor Jason. He's just trying to grasp hold of his memories: the ones that allow him to be a top-notch fighter, the ones that bring the gods' Roman rather than Greek names to his lips, and the ones that rumble in the back of his mind with every mention of the Titan War.

It's a bit more complicated, a bit more multi-layered, and a bit longer than the Percy books. But then, the characters (and the original Percy fans) are also a bit older. New readers will fare just fine without having read the Percy books (so far), but I have a feeling that won't be the case for much longer. And Percy fans will love the continuation of the Camp Half-Blood story.

Also of note: Leo is Latino and Piper is of Cherokee descent. Leo (very) occasionally uses Spanish words, especially in his memories. Piper reflects on her grandfather's life on the reservation as opposed to the life she's lived in California (her dad's a famous actor). She also bristles at the term "Half-Blood" upon reaching camp (though there is no examination or explanation of why that term bothers her in the text). Riordan doesn't make a big deal about the ethnicities of any of the characters (at least not the mortal half of their ethnicity...), but he still manages to make it matter.

Book source: Philly Free Library where I started out 27th in line for this title a week before its release. :)


GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

One of my teens read this and she said she liked it, but that Rick Riordan needs to stick to first person male narration. :) I'm looking forward to reading this one, I just don't know that I'll get to it anytime soon.

Lawral the Librarian said...

GreenBean - That's a pretty good assessment, actually. Luckily for me, I thought the plot worked well enough that it didn't bother me too much. :)