Rick Riordan is the bestselling author of the YA series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. His low fantasy books based in modern-day America follow the lives of demigods, the offspring of immortal Gods and mortal humans. The Percy Jackson series was based on Greek mythology, and in The Lost Hero, the first book in the sequel series The Heroes of Olympus, Riordan expanded from that to include Roman mythology as well. (Riordan has also started writing a companion series, The Kane Chronicles, set in the same fictional universe and in the same time period, which follows two descendants of Pharoahs and is largely based in Egyptian mythology.)
Jason, Piper and Leo are a group of “bad” kids sent to a camp in Nevada for rehabilitation. While on a field trip to the Grand Canyon, Jason wakes up with no memory of who he is or anyone else. His first inkling of his past pops into his head when the three are attacked by storm spirits and a gold coin in his pocket turns into a gold sword. Soon after they are rescued and brought to a place called Camp Half-Blood by Annabeth, who is searching for the missing Percy Jackson. The mystery of who Jason is and why Annabeth was directed to bring him to camp permeates throughout the book. It isn’t too hard to figure out the basics through Riordan’s hints but I really liked his reasoning and the worldbuilding behind it.
Piper is hiding a secret; she’s been having nightmares about her dad with a voice saying if she doesn’t do exactly as she’s told her father will die. She spends most of the book trying to do what’s right while also trying to save her dad. She’s a reluctant double agent for the other side. Leo, on the other hand, feels like a third wheel. His joking nature is a shield to protect himself and disguise a big secret: he can not only tinker like nobody’s business, creating all sorts of machines, but he can also call fire and believes he murdered his mother. Both are well-crafted characters who need a kick in the tush. Obviously if Piper told her friends about her dilemma, they would do anything they could to help. And obviously Leo didn’t really murder his mother; he was tricked at a very young age into calling the fire by the big baddie.
Mother Nature is Evil!
The book is a set-up for the new series and it shows. The Quest is designed to let us get to know the first three members of the seven foretold in the Great Prophecy and the “big bad” Gaea, or Mother Nature herself. Even the Gods are afraid of her and the only way to defeat her is to keep her asleep. While the group gains a small victory at the beginning of this new war, they obviously need to find the final four if they hope to defeat her. At the end of the novel they discover why Jason’s mind was wiped and where Percy Jackson is being kept. Is Percy okay? What will happen when Jason’s old memories merge with his new memories?
While Riordan always creates strong female characters, he seems to have a predisposition for the male gender. In the Percy Jackson series, his three main characters were Percy, Annabeth and Grover. In The Heroes of Olympus, his three main characters are Jason, Piper and Leo. I think Leo would have been fabulous as a female and I’m disappointed Riordan didn’t push the envelope farther. I would really love to see more strong females who aren’t in traditional roles that can show young women reading his books that it’s okay and even cool to be different and take on “male” roles and interests.
Why should you read this book?
It’s no secret this is a Young Adult book and is written for that age group, but the book is full of adventure, humor and solid wordbuilding that will interest readers of any age. It’s a quick read that will make you impatient for the next installment. If, however, you prefer deeper books that make you think, this is not the book for you. It’s more like brain candy, easy to eat and a little sweet.