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, Laistrygonians (a kind of man-eating giant), the Fates, Colchis bulls, Tantalus, Polyphemus, Stymphalian birds, Jason of Jason and the Argonauts, Hippocampi, Hydras, Charybdis and Scylla, Circe, Sirens, and cyclops. Many references to Odysseus' sea journey and the Golden Fleece and one to the book The Lord of the Flies. Some details on chariot races and why they're so dangerous. Some descriptions of what it's like to have dyslexia and ADHD.
Hermes reminds Percy that families can have their difficulties, but you don't give up on your family. Strong messages about teamwork, friendship, resilience, resourcefulness, and bravery in the face of danger.
Positive Role Models
Percy is embarrassed of Tyson, his half-brother, and admits it's because he wants others to see him as cool and Tyson isn't. But by the end of the book he's ashamed of his behavior, apologizes, and sticks up for Tyson. He also sees the quest he's on from his rival Clarisse's perspective and does a very selfless thing to help her succeed.
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, girl characters are the smartest (Annabeth) and the most battle-ready (Clarisse). There's one Black character mentioned at this early point in the series, Charles Beckendorf.
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Violence & Scariness
Skirmishes with monsters using swords, fists, cannons, and arrows. One monster spits acid, others fire dodgeballs and boulders, some monsters threaten to eat people, Sirens use their powerful song and mental manipulation, a flock of evil birds pecks away at a crowd of people. Half-blood injuries are healed with ambrosia, monsters die and turn to dust. A ship explodes and one character is thought dead and mourned. People are turned into animals. Someone punches a bullying school kid. The Fates share one eyeball that gets dropped on the floor of a cab. Many crashes and injuries in two chariot races. Two characters are held captive by a monster, and one is almost cooked for dinner. The story of a character kidnapped by monsters who tie up and almost eat her friends. Tantalus reminds everyone of the ancient story of how he was cursed after feeding his children to the gods.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A kiss on the cheek. Much talk of gods having affairs with mortals and their resulting kids, the half-bloods. A special mention that Percy is ashamed that his father got "moony-eyed for a nature spirit," which resulted in the birth of his cyclops half-brother, Tyson.
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One "damn." A bullying kid has choice words for his prey: "freak," "retard," "loser."
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Products & Purchases
Many mentions that Mr. D drinks Diet Coke. Plus the drinking of Coke and Dr. Pepper by campers.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rick Riordan's The Sea of Monsters is the second book in the Percy Jackson series. They made a movie of it, but the book is better (of course). Like the first book, The Lightning Thief, you'll find plenty of action in the way of monster skirmishes, but this time the fighting is more often on ships and islands teaming with mythological creatures. One monster spits acid, others fire dodgeballs and boulders, some monsters kidnap and threaten to eat people, Sirens use their powerful song and mental manipulation lure prey. Half-blood injuries are healed with ambrosia, while monsters die and turn to dust. A ship explodes and one character is thought dead and mourned. A bullying schoolmate calls kids "retards," "losers," and "freaks" and eventually gets punched in the face. There are many characters from Greek mythology included in the story, especially the ones you find in The Odyssey, but also Tantalus, the new camp director, who reminds readers of why he was cursed: because back in the day he fed his own children to the gods. Yuck. Expect lots of mentions of Coke products and references to how half-bloods came to be -- because the gods had/have lots of affairs with mortals. Also, expect some more great things from our favorite ADHD, dyslexic hero, Percy. He learns lessons about honoring friendships, even with kids who aren't considered cool, and sets aside rivalries to do what's right.
Is It Any Good?
Young demigod heroes fight mythological creatures in this thrilling, fresh, and funny seafaring quest. It's full steam ahead in this sequel to The Lightning Thief, which will launch many more Percy Jackson sequels and spin-off series. The journey through monster-infested waters will remind the older classics fans of Odysseus' quest -- same monsters, Sirens, and man-hating sorceress -- but without all the pathos and 10 years of wandering. Instead of 10 years, Percy and Annabeth have mere days to save their friend Grover and return to camp with a certain magical object of lore. And then there's the added complication that they're banned from leaving camp at all -- this is Percy's rival Clarisse's quest, and crossing any child of Ares is always a bad idea. But when Percy gets a surprise visit from Hermes and some magical parting gifts, he knows there was no question he would be going.
While this story could have stuck to monster madness action, it has a heart, too. Percy has to accomplish something almost more difficult for a middle schooler than fighting a giant cyclops: staying loyal to someone uncool in the face of peer ridicule. Author Rick Riordan, a former middle school teacher, really gets the social monsters kids this age must deal with and how sometimes they have to make the wrong choices in order to learn. He also writes about Percy and Annabeth's friendship with a true understanding for the awkwardness of first crushes. After The Sea of Monsters, readers are sure to want more of both the wild mythical monsters and relatable characters. Luckily for them there's a lot more to come in the world of Percy Jackson.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.