Harry Potter’s second year at Hogwarts preluded with an unexpected visit from a most unlikely creature, Dobby the house elf, who brought with him ominous tidings and a warning not to attend the wizarding institution for his own good. Despite Dobby’s numerous interventions Harry with the help Ron, and his twin brothers, escaped not only Privet Drive but the duo also worked around the block barrier of Platform 9 & 3/4 in a most interesting fashion.
The plot is centered around the legend of the Chamber of Secrets and the Hier of Slytherin who has not only access to it but also the beast that resides within. It officially began with the first victim Mrs. Norris, the caretaker Filch’s cat, who was found hung petrified by her tail in the halls next to a chilling message scrawled on the wall in red lettering.
During an implemented dueling lesson led by the woefully incompetent and absolutely rank git Gilderoy Lockhart, latest DADA professor, an incident involving Harry, Draco Malfoy and Ernie Macmillan led most of the student body to suspect that Harry was the Hier. Where Voldemort fits into this? That’s an excellent question.
All the signs were there but I, like most I imagine, was too anxious and curious to take the time to analyze much in my first reading. Subtle hints, such sneaky writing has never delighted me and at the same time invoked a sense of sadness before.
We’ve met the glorious Apollo in the first Percy Jackson books, with his good-natured arrogance (if that’s a thing), and is basically full of himself and selfish but benevolent about it. After the fiasco in Blood of Olympus, Zeus had to find someone to blame and Apollo happened to be the perfect scapegoat, brought him down to earth. Literally, the dude landed in a dumpster in New York.
There he met a ferocious garbage wielding twelve-year-old demigoddess Meg. If you recall towards the end of the last series the Oracle of Delphi was silenced, therefore prophecy was cut off, meaning no quests.
Somehow connected to it all an ancient power that is slipping out of the shadows from which they’d lurked during the Second Titan War and the waking of Gaia. It is up to Apollo and Meg to reclaim the Oracle, of course with the help of our favourite demigods!
The most satisfying part of it all was Apollo’s character progression. I’d known it was unlikely Apollo was that oblivious after four thousand years. He had had his share of pain and regrets that still weighed on him, it was much easier to live beneath this mask of perfection, good cheer and narcism and some willful ignorance.
I reread this gem last year and the feels are still incredibly strong. Long story short this is a coming of age story of teenager Aristotle (told entirely in his point of view) during the 1980s set in El Paso, Texas, and spans two years.
The summer was hot and humid, the rain was like a veil into different emotional dimension I kid you not. And the birds, well they were there crapping on people in a real way. Oh, just read the thing and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s raining as I’m writing, and usually when it does I’m reminded of my summer boys.
And I’ll be straight with you, dear readers, this is a novel I cannot formulate a coherent sentences worthy of a decent review so I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for this mass of fangirl babble. Ari was at the awkward age where he’s coming to terms that his body is changing, he’s occupied with thoughts of his veteran father who’s in another world most of the time. Added to that he’s somewhat obsessed with an older brother who he barely remembers.
He meets the soft spoken and bookish Dante (one of the cinnamon-iest cinnamon roll I’ve read so far) one day at the pool. A loner by choice, Ari begins to find his company an education.
The friendship that grows between these two … it’s simple yet it’s not. For better or for worse they change each other. Simply by being there they challenged themselves with facing the hard questions, the kind of questions that makes them realize just how vast and painfully tangible the universe possibly is.
What I loved
Sáenz didn’t mince words, let me tell you. When I first read it I was confused and uncomfortable but then I got it. This was Ari’s voice: raw, undiluted and straightforward. Also the writing gets poetic, which I expect from a book with a guy named Aristotle in it. Not that he’s poetic. Hmm, well he does get poetic but he doesn’t think he is.
Ari. I like him. A lot. Full of angsty pubescent emotions, foul mouthed (as much as a fifteen year old can be in YA), a natural born smart ass, and an actual decent human being. Cute too, did I mention?
Dante, another smarty pants. He’s the yin to Ari’s yang. Gentle, fierce, kind and forever curious. If I recall correctly, he has identity issues with his Mexian ancestry, having not been immersed in it as much as Ari. He’s terribly brave when it comes down to it.
Note to people who’ve never listened to to podcast: I will not tell you that you can only enjoy this book if you listen to the episodes, though it would help. From what I understand it’s marketed as a stand alone. Personally, I don’t mind if you disliked it. Only too easy to be confused and feel like an outsider. It’s a poor reflection of the podcast so please don’t let this discourage you from listening.
When I say that I felt my mind bend several times throughout the book, I am not kidding. For some reason I still can’t put a finger on, I was skeptical about the entire thing. I could suppose that I was so trained to the podcast format that the setup for novel approach was … puzzling. Who am I kidding? Honestly it fell flat for me. There. I said it.
However, I am now satisfied in several respects with regards to the plots of certain episodes. For instance I can now file the away the speculation that The Man In The Tan Jacket is not actually Cecil’s long forgotten brother.
Thanks to The Man and his stupid note, Jackie’s become irritatingly aware of the oddness of her existence. Particularly pissed because because her boring routine life has been unashamedly demolished. The order and the peace of mind it brought, gone. It should be a damn crime.
Diane is more complicated. A single mother having to try communicate with an ever distant teenage shape-shifting son is nothing at all to sneeze at. Between that growing divide is the pothole of all potholes, his father Troy.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read The Mark of Athena as yet, please don’t go any further.
Rated it: ★★★★★
At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?
They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.
Okay. I don’t know what exactly to say (oh but I do), other than that events have certainly heated up, so to speak. The House of Hades is the darkest installment yet, it had me on the edge of my seat and in an almost dire state of emotional crisis. While The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune introduced the new players and had healthy plots; The Mark of Athena saw all of the seven finally assembled aboard the Argo II as well as decent character advancement, this fourth book I observed a greater sense of growth in all of them though at varying degrees, most of all Frank (as anticipated) and Leo (I’m going to relapse in feels). AND ANNABETH AND PERCY ARE IN TARTARUS FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE.
I particularly appreciated how as the story progressed the meaning of the prophesy takes on newer, more clearer and curiously personal meanings, completely different from what I thought before. Hazel is tested on her newfound abilities and after days of seasickness and worry we see her stepping up to the plate as she’s faced with decisions at crossroads and a farting polecat.
Piper really takes charge of her life, with her training and less focus on Jason and I gotta say I’m most pleased with her better sense of self, not as itchy in her role in the seven and as a daughter of Aphrodite. A certain snow bitch goddess didn’t know what she was stirring up.
We finally get a good feel for Jason‘s character, we see him shaping his identity against some of the traditional Roman values he was instilled with, and becoming more of his own man if you can understand that, instead of the guy they think he is and how how he should be. Palpably no longer the man he used to be. Am I happy? Bet your butts I am.
His and Nico‘s relationship (not that kind, shippers I’m looking at you) is especially interesting. No one knew what to make of the son of Hades, the wild card, even his sister. So Jason, understandably apprehensive of the guy, having little choice but to “split” from the crew for a while with Nico had sort of … an education. Continue reading “The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan”→
This was satisfying. Was that an understatement? Probably. We’ve got the POVs of Annabeth, Leo, Percy and Piper; I think Rick did a good job with their individual voices but I feel as if each were lacking the intensity when I compare The Heroes of Olympus to Percy’s in first five books, overall though it was well done.
I am so so happy to see more of Annabeth! I mean after all those years of Percy and here’s the brains of the operations; in wanted in her brains. Wish granted! I can appreciate her fears, not only about who and what she must face on her quest (and the gods know it’s terrifying), it’s the fact that she must do this alone and she hadn’t been that way since she was seven and on the run. Her intelligence and bravery are her knives and shield and she’s got a healthy dose of self doubt to temper her metal.
The Leo, Hazel and Frank dynamic was interesting. I recall a reviewer wondering why Frank, having understood how Sammy played into Hazel’s past, is still at odds with Leo. Okay, the fire thing aside, that Frank should give McShizzle a break. I agree. Thing is, I believe Frank’s intimidated with Leo’s loud personality, his energy and some of the jibes unintentionally that more often than not hit some sensitive spots. Leo is the opposite of Frank and while that may have problems they can prove to compliment each other.
Well to say at the least, things are sure heating up. I do like that we get to see more of the other gods. Titan’s Curse is definitely more action packed and it’s only going to get a whole lot more livelier as the series progresses. I love the secondary characters (new ones!) and how their own back-stories are connected to the various parts in the plot. I’m certain that I am not alone when I say I’ve missed Annabeth. That girl.
I have no hope for Luke. The boy is lost. Is it the power that seduced him in the first place? The bitterness towards his father and the other gods? Both probably, but like most dreams of victory on the ‘other’ side of the battlefield, I think he finally found that Titans and Gods alike laugh at his plans and he’s caught up in a massive sticky spiderweb.