Monday, October 14, 2013

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan

Riordan explains myths in a way that makes sense to young readers with funny mnemonics and galloping action. The strength of the story lies in this formula and he sticks to it with every book. What I am not liking so well with this series is the deluge of characters that has watered down the development of each of them. As the series has progressed there seems to be a snowball effect of  many characters telling their feelings more than showing them. While the book is entertaining, I am not lovin' it as much as the first two books in the series.

Percy and Annabeth have to hike through Hades trying to breathe poison air and dodge every monster that they've ever killed in the other series. (Reminds me of my trip to Beijing and trying to breathe. An entrepreneurial man was selling bottled fresh air on the streets.) They are trying to get to the Doors of Death before the other five demigods seal it to keep the giants from escaping and raising Gaea, the Earth goddess. Great action along with plot twists have the two trekking through the Underworld with exciting adventures. Percy's internal change is the realization that he takes people for granted and uses them to serve his own purposes whether it is Bob or Calypso. Bob was the most interesting character who has a moral dilemma of choosing good over evil. Percy hasn't changed much since the first series so it was interesting to see a bit of growth as a leader.

Other characters that change are Frank who becomes confident and decisive. Hazel learns to use her powers and believe in herself. Leo falls in love and stops teasing others in a way that hurts feelings. Jason struggles with his identity as a Roman influenced by the Greeks, and Piper still has issues with self-confidence. Nico has the biggest change but we never have his point of view; instead he sulks and withdraws from everyone. Jason is the only one who can interact with Nico because he knows what it going on with him.  Jason reacts with such tolerance and maturity it didn't come off as authentic for me, but didactic. I would have liked Jason to struggle internally with Nico's revelation. Coach Hedge changes from Mr. Reckless to Mr. Careful and for a good reason. I won't tell and spoil it for you. I know that the heroes are going to come out on top so I like it when the tension is not only in the action but with complex character development. Riordan tries with Nico, but it fell flat in my opinion.

I like the gods and goddesses best. This is where the creation myths and the unique mythical personalities are woven into the plot in a fascinating way. Hecate and Frank's ancestors pull in Greek and Chinese myths while Percy and Annabeth deal with creepy mythical creatures and monsters. The symbol of Hazel being at a crossroads and having to make a choice, as Hecate presents her options is a nice representation of the choices people make in life. If you liked "The Mark of Athena" then you'll like this one because it is quite similar to it.

Reading Level: 5.7
3 Smileys

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