Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review - Sea of Monsters

Being the second novel in the Percy Jackson series (currently 5 books in length), I expected some more plot depth and character development. At the same time, this book is aimed at a younger audience of readers and as such it's risky to get too intricate or there's a risk of losing some of the audience (something I feel happened to the Harry Potter series).

In this second Percy Jackson adventure, we are again taken on a wild ride that showcases the wonderful creativity of Riordan. Similar to the debut novel, we begin in "the real world" with Percy at school encountering monsters. This time, when he gets to camp, he finds things have changed drastically. Another quest is in the works and, even though Percy isn't explicitly assigned the quest, he has personal reasons for secretly being involved.

The narration was humorous and well crafted. I genuinely felt like this story was told me by a teenage boy (albeit a demigod teenage boy). The mythological elements were well integrated and I feel like this book, and the series thus far, do a good job of teaching kids (and adults) about some of the ancient Greek myths while also portraying them in a modern light that allows readers to contemplate their relation to our own society.

While some of the characterization felt a little flat at times, I think it was well done for teen, pre-teen and younger readers. The mental decisions they have to make and the morality workings felt natural and realistic for young characters and they were described well from the perspective of a younger narrator.

In addition to really enjoying the core plot of this particular novel, I really loved the setup for the rest of the series (or at least the next book or two?). The resolution to this particular adventure in the Sea of Monsters was conclusive and convincing. However, it also opened up intriguing and well-crafted plot points that will provide plenty of excitement for future stories. And just when I thought the surprises and/or "cliffhanger" moments were done, the final moments under the tree at camp provided a bigger twist to be worked out.

This is a great series and a lot of fun. It's definitely a youthful adventure so any adults looking for a deep epic fantasy series may be disappointed. However, anybody that enjoys well crafted adventures following the vein of Greek myths will enjoy this book. Riordan has delivered again. Furthermore, he's set himself up to continue this great series by opening Pandora's Box or hanging up the Sword of Damocles to be used in future novels.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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