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 and especially Artemis and her hunters, manticores, Ariadne, the Nemean lion, the Erymanthian boar, the giant Talos, the Hesperides, Hercules, the Ladin dragon, the Ophiotaurus, Nereus, and Atlas and other Titans. Some details about Sopwith Camel airplanes during WWII, the Smithsonian museums, the Hoover Dam, San Francisco and Marin County geography, and the rival cities of Mt. Othrys and Mt. Olympus. Some details on what it's like to have dyslexia and ADHD.
Consistent with the series so far, strong messages about teamwork, friendship, resilience, resourcefulness, and bravery in the face of danger. In this particular book, overcoming loss and resisting the temptation of power that comes with a horrible price. Athena warns that evil is easy to fight; lack of wisdom, less so.
Positive Role Models
Percy's mom tells him to trust his instincts and do what he thinks is right, what he thinks his friend Annabeth would do to help him, even if it's dangerous. It's clear he would do anything to protect his friends. He also is not interested in power the way some other young half-bloods are.
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 skilled in battle (Zoe). There's one Black character mentioned at this point in the series, Charles Beckendorf. Annabeth is from a blended family with a stepmom and half-brothers who are Asian.
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Violence & Scariness
Skirmishes with mythological monsters using swords, arrows of all kinds, throwing knives, burritos, and poison darts. Undead warriors tracking the heroes shoot guns -- they also get limbs lopped off and reformed the way zombies do. One hero gets electrocuted in a metal giant and is thought dead. Another main character dies from a poison bite, slowly, and is heavily mourned. Two characters fall from cliffs and one major character is kidnapped and tortured (has to hold a heavy weight and nearly collapses). Thalia tells a story of how her mother died drinking and driving. The story of how an innocent creature was sacrificed for power, its entrails pulled out.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Much talk of gods having affairs with mortals and their resulting kids, the half-bloods. A special mention that Mr. D, Dionysus, got in trouble for chasing a wood nymph.
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The chapter that takes place at Hoover Dam is called "I Have a Dam Problem" and there are many jokes that follow about going to the dam snack bar, etc. Thalia calls Zoe a "conceited little brat."
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Products & Purchases
Mentions that Mr. D drinks Diet Coke. Plus mentions of Target, Cheez Whiz, many luxury car brands -- Apollo's chariot appears as a Maserati. Percy borrows a VW Bug from Annabeth's dad. Bands mentioned: White Stripes, Led Zeppelin.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of a death from drinking and driving and that Dionysus wanted to hand out red wine to campers and it changes to Diet Coke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rick Riordan's The Titan's Curse is the third book in the Percy Jackson series. Like the first two books, The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters, you'll find plenty of action in the way of monster skirmishes using swords, arrows of all kinds, throwing knives, burritos (yup), and poison darts. Undead warriors tracking the heroes shoot guns -- they also get limbs lopped off and reformed the way zombies do. The bigger deal in Book 3: One major character is kidnapped at the beginning of the story and two characters die on the quest to save her. One we assume dies after a metal giant she's inside is electrocuted, and the other dies slowly from a poison bite and is heavily mourned. There's a running joke at Hoover Dam that uses the word "dam" a lot. Expect more great things from our favorite ADHD, dyslexic hero, Percy. He will do anything to save his friends and is not tempted by anyone offering him power.
Is It Any Good?
While the monsters are getting deadlier and the stakes higher in this third book in the series, there's still plenty of fun to be had in Percy's third adventure. Zombie-like gun-toting warriors are on the chase across the country, but can be easily distracted by a good burrito fight. And in the middle of the desert in a very dangerous scrapyard, Aphrodite pops by with some astute warnings and, of course, embarrassing love advice for poor Percy who never asked.
These are all great distractions from the dire prophesy and all that wondering the reader will inevitably do about which two heroes will be the ones to die. The identity of the doomed is never clear, nor is it clear who the mysterious General is or why exactly the San Francisco Bay Area is such a dangerous place for half-bloods, not until the nail-biting finish. Author Rick Riordan's mythological world continues to build in intriguing ways, always headed straight toward Book 5's inevitable Greek gods vs. Titans showdown. And with all the burrito fights and other fun detours, readers will be in no hurry to see the saga end.
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.