Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review of The Heroes of Olympus, Book Four: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

TitleThe House of Hades
AuthorRick Riordan
Publication Date: Oct. 8, 2013
Source: Purchased myself

Quick Summary
The House of Hades continues to follow the story of Percy Jackson (and friends) as he tries to stop Gaea, the earth goddess, from rising and destroying the world as we know it. The previous book left Percy and Annabeth falling into Tartarus, home of the monsters, giants, Titans, and pretty much any enemy the heroes have ever faced before. Their friends above ground are trying to reach the Doors of Death to help Percy and Annabeth escape from Tartarus alive. This story is full of new friends, unexpected twists, and great character development. 

My Thoughts
Most of you don't know me well yet, but one of the first things people find out about me is that I'm a total nerd. I geek out about a great many things, one of which is mythology. I LOVE MYTHOLOGY! Needless to say, when Rick Riordan started publishing his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, I was ecstatic! I fell in love his characters, his sense of humor, his modern twist on Greek Mythology, his voice, and the way he made his books accessible to younger kids. Up until now, I've pretty much worshiped the ground Riordan walks on. However, I am very sad to say that I don't think The Heroes of Olympus series has stood up to my (admittedly high) expectations. 

For starters, it is very hard to tell who this story belongs to. In previous books, we followed Percy through his adventures, seeing the story through his point of view. Riordan knows Percy's voice very well and uses it effectively. I would literally laugh out loud in public places reading his first series. (And yes, I got some strange looks!) But in The Heroes of Olympus series, Riordan tells the story from seven different points of view! It makes it hard to tell whose story you are actually reading, and I think Riordan's sense of humor and voice greatly suffered from it. He knows Percy well, but the other characters' voices come across flat, and the humor forced. 

I also had a problem with the length of this series. The original series was five books, but they were only a couple hundred pages each. This helped reach a lot of young adults that weren't big readers. It made the books accessible and kid-friendly. This second series is also five books, but they are over 500 pages each! While Riordan might be counting on his fan base to follow him, I think the length factor alone will cut out a lot of new readers and a lot of younger readers. The House of Hades is book four, and (though it kills me to say it about one of Riordan's books) I am kind of bored. It is so long that I've lost interest in the story. Sure, there are exciting moments that help pull me back in, but they are few and far between. It just has a sense of monotony. This story could have been told in the same amount of pages as his last one. 

Now, don't worry! There are some redeeming qualities about the book. One thing that is gained by lengthening the book and making it from multiple points of view is character development. In The House of Hades especially, there is a depth of character that we didn't see (with the exception of Percy) in the first series. Riordan has added some serious plot twists and hard sacrifices to mold and shape his characters, making them more dynamic. I don't want to spoil the big surprises, so I won't go into too much detail, but even some of the characters from the last series are shown in a new light. This, along with adding some unexpected allies and a small social commentary on some major topics of today, does help to pull this book up to an enjoyable level. And I am curious to see how Riordan will end it all in the fifth and final book of the series: The Blood of Olympus. 

Overall, I give this book a 3 out of 5 hearts. 
A few flaws, but worth reading. 

I geek out about mythology… What's your geek out niche? 
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