by Rick Riordan
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4
Percy Jackson isn’t expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.
In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos’s army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth – a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.
The book opens perfectly, with picked up threads and demon cheerleaders (but PLEASE, fantasy writers everywhere, I implore you, can I kindly get a portrayal of the Goddess Hecate that is NOT negative? Goddess of Magic and Queen of Witches need not automatically equal “bad guy”.)
*rant over. we now return to your regularly scheduled review*
[Edit: Since writing this review, I’ve read subsequent Riordan books in which Hecate gets a proper representation. Yay!]
Then we get to camp half blood, and THIS happens:
“You are okay?” he asked. “Not eaten by monsters?”
“Not even a little bit.” I showed him that I still had both arms and both legs, and Tyson clapped happily.
“Yay!” he said. “Now we can eat peanut butter sandwiches and ride fish ponies! We can fight monsters and see Annabeth and make things go BOOM!”
I hoped he didn’t mean all at the same time, but I told him absolutely, we’d have a lot of fun this summer.”
TYSON! Tyson is amazing. Possibly even as amazing as fish ponies.
We get to go into the Labyrinth! I want one. Okay, so it’s super-dangerous, full of monsters, nearly impossible to navigate and makes you go crazy? So what! It connects the whole country and has crazy adventures around every corner.
Annabeth finally gets to lead a quest! Against tradition, she chooses three, not two companions. Percy, Tyson and Grover. Tyson and Grover are both kind of scared of each other, which I found rather adorable. Inevitably they have to learn to work together and mutual respect develops, and it is a nice process to watch unfold. It felt like everyone really grew in this installment. Especially Grover.
Nico is freaking amazing. He got such a raw deal, but he’s so likable and such a bad-ass. I love how much of a presence he has in this book, his personal story-arc. Awesomeness.
Things are rather frenzied (in a good way!) in the Labyrinth. More Gods are met (excellent!), monsters are fought, volcanoes explode…oops, getting ahead of myself. It is neat how they go in and out of the Labyrinth as it transects the country. And eventually they go back in with…
Rachel: You’re a half-blood, too?
Annabeth: Shhh! Just announce it to the world, how about?
Rachel: Okay. Hey, everybody! These two aren’t human! They’re half Greek god!
(Naturally, in NYC, no one bats an eyelash.)
Rachel is great. A mortal who holds her own, and is just an intriguing character in herself. She bothers me as a potential love interest, and the fact that she and Annabeth don’t get along (while understandable) and that her presence causes friction between Percy and Annabeth (also understandable) makes me sad. I hated to see Percy and Annabeth at odds.
The ending was intense. Really sets the stage for what’s to come.