The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
So I was super excited about reading this book. Son of Neptune (the previous in the series) was good. Obviously Percy Jackson is way, way, way better than The Heroes of Olympus but you know, for a spin off series it was going well.
Or so I thought.
The story (which was quite wonderful) goes something like this. Annabeth, Leo, Piper and Jason go to camp Jupiter to pick up Percy and the other two heroes needed to go on the quest to stop Gaia from rising (for once this story didn’t anger my feminism because Gaia from ancient Greece WAS evil – I mean sure the myth was founded on centuries of misogyny but one of the neatest things about Riordan’s books is how relatively faithful his Gods are to the crazy ones in myth). There’s something like an international diplomatic incident which leaves Camp Jupiter invading Camp Half Blood and the seven heroes racing to get to Rome in time to stop the giants from killing Nico di Angelo and destroying the ancient city. And then sometime after that Gaia rising to break everything else. In the mean time, Annabeth is also charged with following the Mark of Athena on a quest that hundreds of her siblings have died trying to complete. No stress.
And it did have a lot of all the good things I love about the others. Zany monsters, Percy Jackson, mythology jokes, they were all there. The story itself is great – fast paced, filled with neat twists and turns, and beautiful moments.
But while Riordan is really good at writing from the perspective of a dyslexic ten year old boy on a quest who is motivated almost entirely by love for his friends and family, he’s just not that good at writing sixteen, seventeen year old girls who are in love. I’m pretty sure that’s what it comes down to.
The book is narrated by Percy, which is really great, Leo which is (almost) equally great, Annabeth and Piper. Which means that about half of it fell into the “teenage girl in love” category. And I didn’t buy it.
That’s a lot of pages that I’m not sure worked out. Like a lot. Like close to 300.
In Annabeth and Piper chapters the fact that they are in love with their boyfriends just overwhelms all other aspects of their personalities. Piper used to shy but awesome. Annabeth used to be smart and noble.Now they’re just mushy all the time. Even when Piper is being her most heroic, which is kind of lame, she’s mostly thinking about Jason. I mean – maybe I just missed out on the experience of being a teenager so in love that I lost my personality. But something tells me Rick Riordan has never been a teenage girl in love at all, and somehow isn’t empathizing with them in a real, genuine, believable way.
And there’s another problem with these books. Some writers seem perfectly able to write from seven perspectives and maintain a unique, compelling voice for each of them. That’s starting to fade a little. Leo sounds a lot like Percy. Annabeth and Piper are slowly becoming almost interchangeable. Jason never had a lot to start with and Frank could use a bit more, leaving poor Hazel as the best attempted real person person and she doesn’t even get to narrate.
Presumably her time will come in the next book.
Hopefully for that one the lovey-gooey bits get a little more realistic, character filled or important to the story (which will probably happen if Piper and Annabeth aren’t narrating), Jason becomes a little quirkier and Frank finally comes into his own. I’m looking forward to it, but not nearly as much as I was looking forward to this one. That’s all.
Last movie I watched: Part way through Prometheus. Don’t like it. Started off interesting. Ended up dumb. But Michael Fassbender is so incredibly good it’s scaring me.
Last TV episode I watched: Hard one – haven’t watched TV in ages. Probably a Teen Titans. For the record, not my favourite show about Robin.