A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Percy Jackson spin-off has the same mix of fast-paced battles, scary monsters, and humor. The three new heroes -- Jason, Piper, and Leo -- are in mortal danger multiple times and risk their lives for one another. These heroes are already in their mid-teens, so there's romance in the air between Jason and Piper, though nothing happens just yet. Just like the Percy Jackson series, The Lost Hero will get kids immersed in the details of Greek mythology ... and hopefully clamoring to learn more.
What's the story?
Jason is pretty confused when he wakes upon a school bus on a trip to the Grand Canyon with no idea who he is or how he got there. Earnest Piper acts like Jason's girlfriend, and goofy Leo thinks he's Jason's best friend, but Jason can't remember either of them. Before he can ask many questions, all three are attacked by storm spirits and rescued by a Camp Half-Blood chariot. The newly revealed heroes have barely broken in their cabin bunks when they're called on a quest to rescue Hera (who knows who Jason really is) from dark forces stirring in the Earth -- giants and much more. Riding off in a metal dragon expertly fixed by Leo (Hephaestus' son, of course), the three seek out the nearly-as-dangerous wind gods to help find Hera. But Piper has another secret quest: Her father has been kidnapped by another giant who wants to trade her friends' lives for her father's freedom -- a horrible choice to make.
Is it any good?
The story set-up isn't terribly smooth, and this is a denser read than the first few Percy Jackson books, but once the action heats up, that's easily forgotten.
It definitely helps to read the Percy Jackson series first. This spin-off uses the same camp that trains heroes and churns out three more intriguing demigods. Whether they're as likable as Annabeth and Percy is still up in the air, but it's a promising start.
Always a draw with Riordan's books is his sense of humor and ingenious mix of myth and modern. Aeolus makes a compelling argument for why meteorologists are wrong so often, and Medea makes for a divine charmspeaking saleswoman (ready to talk you into buying a wide variety of poisonous potions, right this way). This sense of fun and adventure makes every one of Riordan's books a quest worth undertaking.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this series vs. Percy Jackson. Were kids as excited about this new series if they loved Percy Jackson? How is Jason different from Percy? How is he the same?
Talk about the mix of myth and modern. How does the author make it work so well? Did you learn anything about mythology that you didn't know before? Are there other myths that you're interested in exploring?
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