Rick Riordan continues to mine the rich mythology of the Greek and (now) Roman empires for his various Percy Jackson series as The Son of Neptune, book two of The Heroes of Olympus series. brings back the hero from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (spawned by The Lightning Thief). The setting is mostly a Roman camp for demigods, with the backdrop of a Prophecy of Seven that will bring Gods and Demigods together to save the world (later in the series, apparently).
I enjoyed The Son of Neptune as a read-aloud with my seven-year-old son and as in the first book — The Lost Hero — we appreciated the sense of adventure, humor and camaraderie of the three main characters that Riordan focuses in on: Jackson, who has lost his memory but is slowly gaining it back; Frank, the son of Mars with an ancient bloodline and a power he only discovers at the end of the book; and Hazel, the daughter of Pluto, who has come back from the dead and doesn’t care to go back.
Riordan doesn’t really break any new ground here. If you like the Percy Jackson books, you’ll like this one. (In an interesting twist, I was reading Son of Neptune aloud to my son while reading The Lightning Thief as a novel with some of my sixth graders.) If the first books were not your cup of tea, then don’t bother.
My son didn’t mind the rehashing some plot ideas (three friends get Quest, work under deadline, save the world), but I found it a bit old after a while. The strength of the book is the development of the characters, though. Percy is older, a bit more wiser, and we’re not quite in his head as much as we were in the first series. He’s a bit more mysterious, as he grapples to understand his present, his past and his unfolding future. Frank and Hazel’s stories, and their simmering friendship, give a nice depth to their characters, too — my son and I talked a lot about what might happen to these two, and if they would survive.
There are some nice modern touches to the narrative, too. After they succeed on their quest to free Thanatos (the god of death), the god pulls out his iPad to see who is “on the list” for returning to the Underworld (one part of the plot is that the dead don’t stay dead because Thanatos has been held captive by a giant.) I had this amusing visual image of Death with a device. And, thanks to chapter numbers in Roman Numerals, my son now can decipher Roman numbers. Thanks, Mr. Riordan!
My son and I are looking forward to the third book, due next year. I’ll bet you have a few students who would like this book in your class library (or school library).
Peace (in the myth),