22 October 2012

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close— the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare. . .
Here I am, eighteen-years-old, and still finding unbelievable enjoyment in Rick Riordan books.  While, for me, the writing is the main thing that demotes it down to a "middle grade" level, everything else can be enjoyed by anyone who wants a good story.  That's why I love it -- the story.  I love the characters and the world and the magic and everything.  I love picking up a Percy Jackson and Co. book because I can never know what to expect, except a good time and a lot of laughs.  In this latest installment of the Heroes of Olympus series, Rick Riordan brings everything to the table to make it the best yet.

The plot kept me glued to my chair.  It's always a good sign when the reader can't figure out how a character is going to wiggle out of their current dilemma.  I'm left in awe by Rick Riordan's ability to slam his characters into corners that seem impossible to get out of and then, somehow, miraculously, they get out.  Barely.  And if something can go wrong, it does.  Most of the time I'm left thinking, How does this story even work when everything goes wrong?  But that's part of the beauty of it.

Much like Harry Potter, the Heroes of Olympus series has a whole cast of characters to fall in love with.  Annabeth had always seemed a bit standoff-ish to me in the previous books (even the Percy Jackson series), but I totally cheered for her in this one.  I still absolutely love how all the characters have their own subplots.  All of them have something dreadful and wonderful going on in their lives and that makes them all real to me.

The Mark of Athena kept me glued from page one. I think this one might be my favorite, but it's a close tie.  All the books are excellent for their own reasons.  What makes The Mark of Athena stand out to me is how the climax of the story stayed with me.  Even now, after having finished it, that scene haunts me.  When a book does that to you, that says the author did something right in more ways than one.

Anyone can love the Heroes of Olympus series.  There are characters and stories within the series that anyone can connect with, all connected by a universal humor.

Bacchus scratched his stubbly chin.  "Ah...yes.  John Green."

"Jason Grace."

"Whatever," the god said. (p. 123)
Frank levitated nearby in a meditation position.  With his chubby face and his grumpy expression, he looked like a Buddha who's achieved enlightenment and wasn't thrilled about it. (p. 284)
"Hercules, huh?" Percy frowned.  "That guy was like the Starbucks of Ancient Greece.  Everywhere you turn -- there he is." (p. 321)
Annabeth wondered if that burning mark was based on a real sacred owl.  If so, when she survived, she was going to find that owl and punch it in the face. (p. 426)
Book Info

  • pages - hardcover, 608
  • published - October 2012
  • publisher - Hyperion
  • genre - fantasy
  • received via - Barnes & Noble
  • rating - 5/5
  • series - Heroes of Olympus
    • The Lost Hero
    • The Son of Neptune
    • The Mark of Athena
    • The House of Hades (coming October 2013)