A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Mythological creatures abound in the Percy Jackson series and in this spin-off series as well. More heroes emerge with family ties to the gods, and more about the Titans, giants, and other ancient creatures emerges. There are also references to mortals from ancient history like King Midas, Helen of Troy, and Medea. It's fun to take out a map and see where the heroes' travels take them; the author usually includes some facts about each North American location.
Friendship, loyalty, and trust are big themes, and as the series progresses, characters with different backgrounds and talents will need to work together to fight a common evil and save the world (of course). Believing in yourself, facing your greatest fears, and rising to meet extreme challenges are also important -- this is a series about heroes, after all.
Positive Role Models
The three teen heroes -- Jason, Piper, and Leo -- are great examples of loyal friends, risking their lives many times for one another. They all come out more confident in their abilities and more sure of the importance of their friendship. When Piper is burdened with a fear that she will have to betray her friends in order to save her father, she makes the tough choice to confide in her friends, who are determined to help her anyway.
Violence & Scariness
Violence falls into two camps here: First, there are multiple attacks by mythological gods and monsters that include swordplay, spears, and some bloodshed; the three main heroes almost die multiple times in these battles, while the creatures they kill just turn to dust and reform. Then there's the emotional stuff: Leo replays the death of his mother in a fire as his fault, and Piper is frantic over her father's kidnapping and worries that she'll have to choose between her father's life and her friends' safety.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Piper and Jason talk a lot in their own heads about their interest in the other, but there's no kiss just yet. Leo flirts very unsuccessfully.
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Products & Purchases
Peppered with pop culture references and a few product mentions, but nothing except Wheel of Fortune is mentioned more than once.
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.
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.
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