The Battle of the Labyrinth: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4
By Carrie R. Wheadon,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Thrilling fourth Percy Jackson sets war in motion.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Many references to characters and creatures in Greek mythology and their stories: the major gods but especially Hera and Hephaestus; the Titans, especially Kronos; the minor gods such as Janus (god of beginnings, endings, doorways, and choices), Nemesis, Pan, and Dionysus; non-gods and immortals such as Daedalus and Icarus, Theseus, King Minos, Calypso, Geryon, and Ariadne; and scary monsters such as Empousai (possible origin of vampire myth), the Sphynx, Telekines, the Minotaur, hell hounds, Kampe, and Anteaus. Some details about Alcatraz, New York City, and the Colorado Springs/Pikes Peak area. Some details on what it's like to have dyslexia and ADHD.
Consistent with the series so far, strong messages about teamwork, friendship, resilience, resourcefulness, and bravery in the face of danger. In this particular book, letting go of grudges, accepting responsibility for wrongs. Also, we must all do our part to save the wild places of the world. Dionysus tells Percy that, "A kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword."
Positive Role Models
Percy continues to be a brave hero who dives into dangerous situations and thinks quickly on his feet, especially when there are friends to save. He's patient and understanding with Nico, who holds him responsible for the loss of his sister. He works to repair their relationship while helping Nico through his grief. Percy is not so in tune with his feelings for girls and what they feel for him, however, but he's only 14, and learning quickly.
There's good neurodiverse representation here: All kids with one god parent (Percy and all other Camp Half-Blood campers) have dyslexia and ADHD. Also, Annabeth, leads this quest and is the smartest in the group. There's one Black character mentioned at this point in the series, Charles Beckendorf, and a Hispanic character, Chris Rodriguez, both half-bloods at camp.
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Violence & Scariness
Skirmishes and all-out battles with mythological monsters using swords, arrows, Greek fire, fists, rocks, explosions, and lava. Some monsters drink blood, some shoot poison, all come from deep within Tartarus to kill demi-gods. Two half-blood campers die in battle, one nearly dies of madness, one has his body possessed by a Titan. Most other half-blood injuries -- including shooting out of a volcano -- can be cured with the nectar of the gods. Some fighting in a skull-adorned sport arena with swords, nets, shields, and tridents -- a monster and a centaur die and turn to dust. Flashbacks to the story of Daedalus and how he loses his son, Icarus, and then how he kills his nephew and helps kill a vengeful king. Much talk about how a boy lost his sister on a quest the year before. Plenty of death imagery: the raising of spirits, including ghosts that talk, and there are many old skeletons in the labyrinth and talk of Cretans in the old days sending in human sacrifices.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple of kisses, a short-and-sweet romance, and talk of boyfriends and girlfriends at camp. Much talk of gods having affairs with mortals and their resulting kids, the half-bloods. Some talk of Zeus' infidelity specifically, and in front of his wife Hera.
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Hades said instead of hell.
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Products & Purchases
Mr. D drinks Diet Coke and Hephaestus drinks Pepsi. Plus mentions of Dippin' Dots ice cream, Froot Loops cereal, McDonald's Happy Meals, Wal-Mart, Toyotas, and the Nature Channel.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rick Riordan's The Battle of the Labyrinth is the fourth book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Like the first three books, you'll find plenty of monster-fighting action. This time, the monsters coming out of Tartarus with designs to kill all half-bloods like Percy are even bigger and scarier and they wage war with the campers at the end. Two half-blood campers die in battle, one nearly dies of madness, one has his body possessed by a Titan. Most other half-blood injuries -- including shooting out of a volcano -- can be cured with the nectar of the gods. There's also some fighting in a skull-adorned sport arena with swords, nets, shields, and tridents; a monster and a centaur die and turn to dust. The quest takes place in the labyrinth, originally designed by the inventor Daedalus, and flashbacks reveal the tragedies of his life: the death of his son and even murder. Expect more great things from our favorite ADHD, dyslexic hero, Percy Jackson. He will do anything to save his friends. Also expect the goddess Aphrodite to continue messing with his love life. There's much more heartache, jealousy, and confusion than actual kissing -- sorry, Percy.
Where to Read
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Excellent war setup has action, violence, language
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What's the Story?
In THE BATTLE OF THE LABYRINTH: PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS, BOOK 4, Percy just wants to go to his high school orientation, take Annabeth to the movies, and head to Camp Half-Blood for the summer. Nothing goes as planned, because -- monster-cheerleaders. After Percy catches the band room on fire trying to get away, Annabeth decides they better skip the movies and head right to camp. Percy's usual joy at being in his favorite place is short-lived. Everyone is worried about the imminent invasion of Kronos and his monster army. Once Kronos reforms and drags all the worst monsters out of Tartarus to fight with him, he could be unstoppable. But he has to find a way into Camp Half-Blood first. During a training exercise with some nasty giant scorpions, Annabeth and Percy duck into a mysterious cave and find exactly the way they can get in: an entrance to the labyrinth, designed by the inventor Daedalus so long ago, but expanding all this time on its own under the U.S. Of course that means a quest is in order, but this time Annabeth is the leader. It's up to her, Percy, Tyson, and Grover to find Daedalus in his workshop at the center of the monster-infested maze and find a way to keep the Titans from invading camp.
Is It Any Good?
The second-to-last book in fantasy series are often long setups for the finale, but this thrilling maze quest tale stands well on its own and even offers exciting new characters to follow. The idea of a labyrinth growing on its own under the United States fascinates, and it means Percy and friends can pop in on New York City, the West Coast, and the Rockies without so much surface travel by wild boar or monster cruise ship or Pegasus. They just have to get through a ranch full of flesh-eating horses, a monster-fighting arena, and the demon-infested hot-lava center of Mount St. Helens -- no problem -- and see what part of the country they end up in next. Readers learn more about the inventor of the labyrinth, Daedalus, and his tragic tale. Fascinating layers are added as The Battle of the Labyrinth moves along. Daedalus drives not just the twists and turns of the maze, but of the twists of the story as well.
Daedalus isn't the only tragic, complex character to have an impact, however. Nico, son of Hades, grieving his sister lost in Book 3, and holding a serious grudge against Percy, plays a role in making the quest more difficult. Still, Percy won't give up on helping Nico, no matter how stubborn he is. In this way Percy is perceptive, patient, and astute. When it comes to girls, however, he's rather clueless. Poor Calypso, poor Annabeth. Maybe by the finale, sometime before the Titans' world-ending battle, Percy will navigate this dangerous maze of feelings a bit better.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Nico and how he deals with grief in The Battle of the Labyrinth. Why is he so angry at Percy? How does he begin to accept what happened to his sister? The fatal flaw of the children of Hades, like Nico, is holding onto grudges. Why is that destructive not just to Nico but to those around him?
In the other books you can tell that Percy and Annabeth are starting to like each other. Now they are both 14, almost 15, things are getting complicated. Do you like that this adventure-fantasy has more romance in it now? Do you wish it would stick to quests and battles? If you're a reader under 12, do you think you will like romance more when you are older, or do you think you'll always prefer monsters over kissy parts?
What do you think is next for Percy and friends? The big battle, obviously, but how will the prophecy play in? How can they win against the Titans when the Greek gods won't fight with them?
- Author: Rick Riordan
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, High School, Horses and Farm Animals, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
- Publication date: May 6, 2008
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 361
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 27, 2022
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