24 October 2010

Book Review Number 3: The Last Hero by Rick Riordan

Ever since I'd heard this book was coming out, I was anxiously awaiting it's arrival.  I was (and am) a huge fan of Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series so to find a new book in the same world set off all my squee buttons.

The book was waiting for me at the library on Saturday and as soon as we picked it up, I started reading it.  Thankfully, Rich was driving because otherwise, it would have been unsafe.  I expected to finish it in one sitting, but life got too busy for that.  Still, it was only the fact that my eyes were closing that made me put in my bookmark and put the book down.

From the very first sentence, the book had me intrigued.  Unlike the first book of the Percy Jackson series, the heroes in this one are a bit older, 15 as opposed to 12.  And it's definitely an older feel as well, which I liked.  The book changes point of view characters with new chapters (though not every chapter changes point of view characters, there are, at maximum, 2 chapters with the same POV).  All of them are third person perspective, which I prefer to first person changing point of view.  

The story starts with amnesia - specifically, Jason's amnesia - and this conviction that he doesn't belong on the bus he's riding on, nor should he be holding the hand of the girl sitting next to him.  But everyone seems to know him.  As the story unfolds, the amnesia plays an important part in who Jason is and why he showed up on this bus.

The other two protagonists, Piper and Leo (and yes, it breaks my brain each time I read it because my brain brings me to Charmed and these are NOT the romantic couple from that show), are convinced that they are Jason's best friend and, despite what becomes revealed through the book, remain that way.  It's good proof that length of time doesn't matter in a friendship - it's counting on one another that is important.

Throughout the story, each of them hold a secret from the rest, but time and friendship bring the secrets to light (by the secret holder, which always seems the better way to go).  And the secrets actually end up strengthening their bonds rather than weakening them.

Many of the characters from the Percy Jackson series return - it's only about six months after the end of the last book.  It's great to see old faces and mourn for those that were lost in the war of the last book.  It's also interesting to see the changes in Camp Half-Blood and what the new heroes bring to that place.

All of the characters, both heroes and villain alike, feel real enough.  And Riordan definitely knows his myths.  Seeing some of the classic characters that were brought back this time gave me little squees of pleasure as I read about them, remembering their stories from my own (not-as-extensive) studies of Greek myth and legend.  

The story ended as climatically as I could have hoped for, with one of the villains being defeated, one being released and one being postponed.  It's a formula that seemed to work well in Percy Jackson, yet didn't feel like a complete retread here.  And the memories that had been taken from Jason... let's just say that while the hints came along through the book and I knew what his background had to be, I wasn't expecting the ultimate reveals.  And it left me wishing that the next book (The Son of Neptune, not due out until fall 2011, per Riordan's website) was already out.

I'm trying really hard not to reveal too much, since this is such a new book, but I'll admit that I REALLY want to talk this over with someone so I can say "Can you believe...?", "Did you expect...?" and "Didn't you cry when...?"  If you've read it and want to have a conversation outside of the comments here, please let me know and we can bring it to e-mail.

But if you haven't read it and are a fan of this world, I suggest you run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore or library to get a copy.  Because it's so worth it.

Currently Reading: Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong and the graphic novel Dragonlance Legends: Time of the Twins by Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman.