Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2
Date: April 2006
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Percy Jackson’s seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get . . . well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of Percy’s friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.
In this fresh, funny, and hugely anticipated follow up to The Lightning Thief, Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their beloved camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family—one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon’s son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.
Reviewed by Mary
In “The Lightning Thief,” Rick Riordan updated the hero’s journey and origin story from classic myths. This time he tackles some similar ground with an update of Jason and the Argonauts, as Percy and Annabeth must sail through the Sea of Monsters (the Bermuda Triangle) to find Grover, who has gone missing, and the Golden Fleece, which may be the key to saving their camp.
As the second book in the series, this is the place where many authors will start to lag, or where the action will feel very “in between” instead of a fully realized story. But Riordan avoids that in the best way possible – by expanding on the actual characters and their relationships. Percy makes a new friend at his latest school, Tyson. Tyson turns out to be a cyclops, making him Percy’s half brother, and a monster that most of the demigods don’t trust. This gives us a chance to see a new side to Percy and helps draw the life of the demigods into a world that’s familiar to the reader – siblings that you love and can’t stand at the same time.
Annabeth has to challenge her fatal flaw when they meet the Sirens, as well as dealing with the fallout from discovering her friend Luke had betrayed Camp Half Blood and sided with Kronos. Luke’s betrayal also gives the reader what becomes one of the most interesting relationships in the series, as we finally meet Luke’s father, Hermes. In addition, camp bully (and daughter of Ares) Clarisse is given more to do and we get to know her when she’s awarded the quest for the fleece. In the process, we learn more about her and her relationship with her father.
Like the first book, there is so much action and so many things to do throughout this book that it seems impossible to have fit it all in. Because of the nature of the story, Percy often has to play the clueless lead (so that Annabeth can explain something to him and the reader) and also balance being the clever one so that he can save the day. That’s a very hard line to walk, and Riordan usually manages it though sometimes you really do want to smack Percy. The good news is, this gives him a place to grow from.
Even though it would have been simple for Riordan to have just made this a bit of a filler on the way to a bigger conflict, he managed to really expand the mythology of the world and give the characters more depth. Plus, the cliffhanger ending is definitely motivation to move on to the next book.