I remember when this novel hit the bookstore shelves, tooting the horn of number one bestseller at "Barnes and Noble" (for only a few days), and radiating an epic conclusion on the slick, flashy paper cover of the hardcovers that sat in stacked droves at nearly every store that had business selling the works of big named authors, such as our beloved, comical author Rick Riordan. In the past, he often provided me with a secretly thoughtful, faintly emotional, and always welcome comic-relief in between loads of homework and blessed sleep in the evenings. And now, in this final installment to this popular series, that seems to be all he is in writing this novel: a simple comic relief, an envisioner of a story where two protagonist siblings work together, and won't seem to grow from their tempestuous relationship into a recognizable bond, to save the world from a traditionally scary, super evil villain. Oh! I am so thrilled, so scared of what will happen! I am so biting me nails right now!
Yeah right. Sorry Mr. Riordan, I can tell that you put a lot of time into this detailed, myth engrossed novel; however, cocky, loyal Percy from your series centered around Greek mythology seriously makes so-so geeky Carter Kane vertically challenged. Not to mention the heroic, romantic myths from ancient Greece clearly boot uninteresting Egyptian mythology out of the spotlight, complete with the inability to remember but a few names in Egyptian mythology.
I sometimes wondered if this whole series came about from the engaging and persistent urging of an editor as a way to put more of Riordan's hilarious, action-packed, and engaging works and ideas out into the market. If it was, it's clear to see why. The books felt heartless, with little emotional connection between the author and the descriptions. The times there were, it was a relief, like a picture's details and colors coming back into focus with more detail than expected before. The story itself seemed to be heard many times before (bad guy want to destroy/take over the world, good guys come to stop him and do, anyone?) so it seemed sometimes that it was a waste of time reading the novel because I already knew from the clearly predictable pattern that Carter and Sadie were going to get out alive, with all their friends safe and happy, and that the bad guy would get blasted into oblivion, never to rise again. I guess the main reason I kept reading was to know how they would stop our beloved bad guy Apophis, a big, red snake who wants to swallow the sun. The characters were okay, one of the better parts of the book. Favorite characters of mine to earnestly watch for are Thoth, the eccentric god of knowledge, slimy Setne, and and hardworking, self-sacrificing Uncle Amos. I do wish Sadie could grow up a bit more and quit calling her older, stressed brother names, and maybe not try so hard to be caught in a Bella-Jacob-Edward love triangle. When that problem is resolved...well, it's a bit cheezy and too good to be true. Carter seems a bit more mature but I think he needs to work things out with Sadie a bit more. Well, I can't be too hard on him, he and Sadie completed so much at the book's end.
I have to admit, the details in how Carter and Sadie Kane, two siblings with Egyptian powers and a need more maturity in their relationship, led the defeat against the might serpent Apophis were pretty interesting and kept you turning the pages. The way in how Riordan wove detailed Egyptian myths into his plot devices was very absorbing, and still fresh, like cool produce right out the garden. That was one of the highlights in this tale, in the whole trilogy even, that I liked: he is still good at weaving mythology into modern day fiction, making even the concepts with the immemorable names interesting.
I like how Riordan seemed to appeal to his teenager audience by making them think about the setting of the Land of the Demons and the place where the Sea of Chaos and the source of Mau't was. I found it very thought provoking. It reminded me of "The Lightening Thief" when the protagonist and his friend were walking through the Land of the Dead (Hades) and passing the all that made up that wretched place, contemplating what they saw. I refreshing, mature section towards the end of the novel. Loved it!
Even with some glimmers of heart here and there, this novel isn't something I am going to think back on fondly. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I easily forget certain plot points. I have already forgotten a lot about what happened in the earlier books of the trilogy. That hasn't happened with Riordan's other books, specifically in the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series; I remember nearly everything that happens in all of those books, probably because I reread parts of them often (of course, in between heavy course loads and bedtime).
This series was, I guess, not that interesting, when it comes to a general point. Besides criticism of the plot and characters, the violence is plentiful but never graphic, language consists of name calling (Sadie is to blame. Sometimes Carter.), and the sexual content is made up of Bella- I mean, Sadie panting for two different boys, Carter thinking about and dating a cute Arabic girl, and a couple of kisses (not described in detail). The usual messages of courage, hard work, and defending what is right and not surrendering to evil, populate the novel. Some brand names are mentioned, but I personally don't think it much about it. I doubt a lot of kids will.
This book, I realize, is perfect for kids 9-12, containing all that they like in Riordan's bestseller series: humor, courage, characters with fighting or intellectual abilities, cool settings (with the shelves and fridges stocked with mounds of candy, stacks of sodas, and other cavity-inducing junk food), and Rick Riordan's magical ability to weave aged mythology into modern times, real emotions and feelings, and gripping plots. Even with this disappointment, though very slight, I still admire him for his talented writing. Remember, don't take everything I say to heart, I'm a picky teenage bookworm. I'm sure your preteen will love this book.
But, I still worry about how Riordan's rumored Norse mythology series will turn out...