So far, this has been my favorite book in the Percy Jackson series. To quickly recap the series, the first book (Lightning Thief) was a great introduction and did a nice job of character and world/plot development. The second book (Sea of Monsters) was a cool follow up and an intriguing semi-retelling of parts of the Odyssey while also introducing plenty of new elements in Percy's world. Book three (Titan's Curse) continued to build upon the curse hovering over Percy's life as well as bringing in some more cool elements.
With Book Four, we're taken into the Labyrinth. Specifically, war is approaching in the form of demigods, humans and others supporting either the cause of the gods of Olympus or the Titan Kronos. It seems there's an entrance/exit to the labyrinth tucked inside Camp Half Blood thus giving Kronos's army the potential to invade the training ground of Olympus's army.
I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics of the overall struggle play out while at the same time making sure that this single adventure had the strength to stand on its own. The central characters continued to be well developed though at times I had trouble deciding if they were developing/growing too fast or too slow. There were times that it seemed like they were doing things above what I expected and other times that it felt like they were behaving far below their capacity.
I found Daedelus an intriguing character as well, especially the way he was first and finally introduced to us. It made me want to go back and reread segments to see if we'd been given any hints previously to lead to the events that come to pass. I liked the morality tale that came from Daedelus's story.
I found the "romantic" element interesting...the tension caused by the introduction of another potential love interest for Percy. I was glad that Riordan made Percy somewhat oblivious to Annabeth's jealousy and made him nervous and unsure about his emotions. I was also pleased that the romance stayed mostly in the background. At the same time, it was sometimes troubling to see Annabeth getting so flustered over the whole thing...as the daughter of Athena, her head should certainly rule her heart, especially when she's placed in her current role...still, she is a teenager and it's understandable for there to be tension and jealousy. I hope we get to see more of Rachel Elizabeth Dare in the final book of this series.
I enjoyed the narrative arc and the general structure. However, I felt a little "jipped" sometimes since the narration follows tightly over Percy's shoulder and leaves us in the dark about other events happening concurrently. When Percy is separated from Grover and Tyson, I would have prefered some interspersed chapters following their adventures rather than just a quick sum-up when they got back together. I also would have been interested to have some scenes show what was going on at camp. Still, I applaud Riordan for staying true to his chosen form...to change now (in book four) may have been disorienting.
The adventure was fairly straightforward....sometimes the challenges facing Percy seemed to be overcome too easily. He is our hero, but sometimes his heroics seem even much for a demigod. I'm glad he survived another adventure, but would have liked to have seen him get into a little more trouble.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the conclusion of the series. It's been a lot of fun to read through these with my kids. They're family friendly and make for entertaining adventures.
4.5 out of 5 stars
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