Out of all the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" books, this one is my big, long-lasting favorite. Why? Well, first of all, it is the quickest read of the entire adventurous series (first time I read it, took me only a day to finish it). Second, it is chalk-full of rib-cracking hilariousness, gripping fun and never-ending excitement, with an overwhelming cliffhanger to top it all off in the end. And third, I just love the cyclopes that enter into Percy's chaotic, adventure-filled life; two of them come into play in this novel in two very different ways.
Percy Jackson, our half-blood protagonist with ADHD/Dyslexia, is back in school for a year before he can return to Camp Half-Blood, a safe-haven for demigods (children of the Greek gods) located in Long Island, NY. After cannibalistic giants interrupt PE class with fireballs, he and his intelligent, resourceful friend Annabeth set out for Camp Half-Blood for safety, where they learn about the great troubles at their camp and the need for a quest to solve them. The rest of the novel is full of the duo's adventures on the way to an island out in the perilous Sea of Monsters, with their best friend, Grover's, rescue from that island in mind.
Rick Riordan must be pretty talented to have the ability to craft an exhilirating, myth-filled novel with extraordinary depths into such a short book. He has the powers of a vignette writer: short, direct, and brim-full of meaning. Hardly a word is wasted in the epic story, which further expands on the broader series plot about the uprising of the wrathful titan Kronus, and how the Olympian gods and their half-blood children. His story, however, doesn't just reach to the heart-pulsing tale of the uprising; it shows the coming-of-age of Percy, Annabeth, and all of the major characters (taking all of his novels to do so), and gives lessons of family, love, loyalty, friendship, and so many other things.
There are very few negative messages in this novel, and all the villains are usually, in their own ways, hilarious and not very frightening. The characters (the ones that aren't necessarily villains) tend to be very good role models: Percy is courageous and loyal, Annabeth is flawed yet able to get past them and recognize them, Grover is good-at-heart and a true friend, Chiron is wise and long-suffering, and even buff Clarisse, though mean and sometimes unappreciative, will sometimes appreciate and be helpful to Percy and his friends. Not to mention, she is a born, literally, and strong fighter. And even that quality isn't pro-violent, don't worry parents!
The violence in this novel is frequent, yet not graphic (all the monsters turn to dust when killed and eventually return to the world at some point in time). Any injuries that are received in the novel are usually quickly healed. There is a d-mn and some name-calling in the novel, as well as some Greek curses, but otherwise not much to be worried about. There is hardly anything in the way of sexual content, except for the fact that probably every half-blood, or demigod, in the novel is an illegitimate child, and that Annabeth has a girlish crush on one of villains in the novel. Complicated! And this is one of the most down-to-earth characters in the novel, going after the way older villain. Well, she is just a teenage girl, I guess I can cut her some slack. No alcoholic content, that I can remember. Trust me, this is a rather clean novel.
If you or your child loved Rick Riordan's "The Lightening Thief", they will absolutely love this stunning, memorable sequel. They will be itching to read the next book in the series, "The Titan's Curse", which, I warn you, is both a slight downer and thoughtful installment of this applaudable series.