Monday, March 10, 2014

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan | Audiobook Review

(Great cover for this book.  It meets the demographic who will enjoy it and it has the main character in an icy land with the golden eagle, which all pertain to the story.  Love it.)

This is the second book in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.  So, obvs, there will be spoilers for The Lost Hero but I'll avoid spoilers for The Son of Neptune.  I am listening to this series on CD during my commute and I love it!  It makes me laugh out loud.

Percy Jackson has very little memory of his life before he woke up in the wolves' pack led by Lupa.  Lupa told him that he was a demigod and taught him to fight.  And then he made his way to Camp Jupiter.  He kind of arrives with a bang... being chased by three Medusa-like monsters who are just refusing to stay dead when Percy slays them.  Once in camp, with the monsters dispensed of, Percy joins the same Roman cohort team as Hazel and Frank.  Hazel is quiet and nervous; she is supposed to be dead and believes she may be cursed.  Frank is a big klutz, which makes him a little shy too.  Percy hasn't exactly joined the All-Star team.  Then Mars himself (the god of war) shows up in camp, claims Frank, and gives the campers a quest.  Percy, Hazel, and Frank must travel to "the land beyond the gods" and defeat Gaia (the earth god) to free Pluto (the god of death).  (That's why the Medusa-like monsters wouldn't stay dead; Pluto was being kept captive in the land beyond the gods and so no one has been guarding the exit door of the underworld.  People & monsters have been escaping.)

There are so many things I loved about this book!  It's still a lot of character introduction, being that it's only the second book in the series and it's nearly an entirely new set of characters from the first book.  But I really like how Rick Riordan builds his characters.  They're all so three-dimensional!  Like, we all know that Percy Jackson is kind of the star of the show from Riordan's previous series, but I feel like Hazel and Frank get equal "screen time."  All three of them have their weaknesses and their strengths; they all have back story.  And I love how well they all work together.  In a way, this series feels a little "Harry Potterish" to me.  There's three kids; two boys and a girl.  They all have the ability to do supernatural things, but the supernaturality is still very new to them, like they haven't all grown up surrounded by magic.  And they have a quest to complete.  The "Harry Potterishness" is not a negative at all!

Another reason that this is a fantastic series: anyone and everyone ages 8 to 98 can read this and enjoy it.  Seriously!  I'm listening to it on audiobook and I do not have to keep reminding myself to "be kind; it's a youth book written for youth."  Nope; I'm just outright enjoying it!  At the writing of this review I'm already listening to the third book in the series and enjoying it just as much.  It's just silly enough and just short enough for younger readers but it's got great humor and depth of characters for older readers.  Like, has anyone watched any of the Toy Story movies as an adult?  They're still great and still hilarious but in different ways.  Same with these books.  They'll make you laugh and keep you interested because there's all these different layers to the story.

Finally, the narration:  FANTASTIC!  Joshua Swanson gets ten out of ten stars for his narration.  He does different voices for different characters, the cadence is very comfortable and natural, and he's very engaging.  In fact, I will probably purposefully seek out more audiobooks narrated by him.

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