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 is the second book in a spin-off series to the very popular Percy Jackson books. Percy is back in this one but has lost his memory and ends up in a Roman camp filled with heroes descended from the gods' Roman aspects -- making this a rather painless lesson in how the Greek and Roman gods differ. Two heroes traveling with Percy on his quest are constantly reminded that death could claim them at any time; one is also dealing with the recent loss of his soldier mother. There are many monster battles with fearsome creatures, but, as in all of Rick Riordan's books, the tension is broken by plenty of humor, and the heroes' bravery and loyalty always win out.
What's the story?
Pursued by gorgons and with no memory of who he is or how he got to California -- or why, after killing the gorgons more than once, they won't just stay dead -- Percy finds his way to the entrance of a secret camp. Camp Jupiter is a special place for Roman demigods, organized neatly like an ancient Roman army. Percy arrives just in time for some serious warnings from the gods: Gaea the earth goddess is waking and has a force of monsters on the way to attack the camp in just four days. And even worse than that, Thanatos -- who usually guards the gates of death -- is chained in Alaska, where an ancient giant is also awakening. With no one to control death, no monsters will ever die. Can Percy and two new Roman friends, Hazel and Frank, make it to Alaska, free death, and get back in four days? Even for Percy, that's a tall order.
Is it any good?
Readers meet two new heroes here, Hazel and Frank; they're not as lively and fun as Leo and Piper from the first book, but they're even bigger underdogs who really come into their own.
With the introduction of Jason in the first book in the Heroes of Olympus series, fans of Camp Half-Blood got hints that somewhere, there was another special place for heroes. It's fun to see the differences between the Greek and Roman camps, their war games, and their ways of making predictions about the future (all those poor stuffed animals!). And Frank's big mystery gift is pretty cool.
There are some slow moments during the heroes' travels to Alaska and a few too many detailed flashbacks, but Riordan makes up for it in the final rush for Percy and friends to save the day.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the return of Percy. Is he the same, even with his memory gone? Did you miss him in The Lost Hero? How are Jason (from The Lost Hero) and Percy similar? Different?
Talk about what you learned about Greek vs. Roman gods. Were you surprised by all the differences? Were the details hard to follow? Did it make you want to learn more?
What makes a fantasy series stand out? Which are your favorites, and why?
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