Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Score: 5 stars (out of 5)
Review: Despite my initial prejudices, I admit that I was thoroughly enchanted by the first Percy Jackson novel. So much, in fact, that during my New Year’s vacation in NYC, I braved the blustery cold of Manhattan and took the 6 Train down to the Penn Station Borders to buy the second book. I know, reading a book while visiting New York? Blasphemy!
I was completely satisfied with my purchase, particularly since I had a 15+ hour day of flights and layovers ahead before I would be home.
In Percy #2, we are fast-forwarded almost one full school year from the first book’s conclusion. Percy has nearly completed the seventh grade without mythological monster incident. His spotless record, however, gets a big black mark when a group of burly dodgeball opponents turn out to be Laistrygonians (giant cannibals, as the all-knowing Wikipedia describes) sent to kill Percy with their cache of explosive dodgeballs.
With the help of friends both old and new, Percy survives the attack and escapes to Camp Half-Blood, where he learns that the great tree that protects the camp from monsters has been poisoned. Our hero faces opposition from both sides of Camp Half-Blood’s waning magic wall, but with some unlikely aid from a godly source, he sets off to restore the camp’s protection and save a loved one who’s gone MIA.
This second trip into Riordan’s modern-day twist on mythology is even more delightful than the first. The story is fast-paced and lighthearted, with plot developments that, while oftentimes predictable and/or convenient, are still fun and fitting.
One of the more touching points of this book is Percy’s epiphany on true friendship and loyalty and the value of such virtues over peer pressure and acceptance. (I won’t disclose too many details, since I don’t like spoilers.) It’s a didactic moment squarely aimed at Riordan’s childhood audience, but it’s a heartwarming refresher course for readers of all ages. (I promise I didn’t cry; I’ve only cried twice while reading a book.)
Fans of Percy #1 will find more to love in The Sea of Monsters. Be sure to have the Internet or a Greek mythology professor handy, though; Riordan includes some references that are less mainstream this go-round.