Friday, May 26, 2006

Review: The Sea of Monsters

Percy Jackson is back in The Sea of Monsters, the second volume of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. And, guess what? You'll hardly believe it, but The Sea of Monsters is even BETTER than The Lightning Thief.

Percy makes his way back to Camp Half-Blood after another disastrous school year. Annabeth arrives to rescue Percy and a young homeless boy named Tyson after Percy inadvertently (a battle with giants) sets the school gym on fire.

When Percy arrives to Camp Half-Blood, he discovers a couple of disturbing facts. First of all, the homeless kid he befriended at school is actually a Cyclops. Second, Chiron is gone and has been replaced by Tantalus, whose idea of fun are chariot races to the death. Also, when the camp debates where to house Tyson the Cyclops, Poseidon claims him as his own son! Meaning, Tyson is Percy's half-brother.

Before long, Grover (the satyr from The Lightning Thief) begins invading Percy's dreams and Percy learns Grover is being held by Polyphemus, a huge, ancient Cyclops guarding the Golden Fleece on an idyllic island in the Sea of Monsters.

Percy and Annabeth present the situation to the campers, who cry for a Quest. Tantalus selects Clarisse (daughter of Ares) to undertake the Quest. But, needless to say, Annabeth, Tyson, and Percy also set out to rescue Grover, take the Golden Fleece and save Camp Half-Blood. And, Percy has help this time from from Hermes, father of Percy's nemesis, Luke.

The Sea of Monsters is a faced-paced adventure story. But it's also more than that. Riordan has really hit his stride with this one and I found myself dog-earing the book on pages with particularly funny passages. Here's one that made me laugh out loud:

  • We did all the standard camp numbers: "Down by the Aegean." "I Am My Own Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandpa." "This land is Minos's Land." (p. 89)

Or, when Annabeth gives in to the Sirens' song in order to learn about herself, the following dialogue takes place between Annabeth and Percy:

  • "My fatal flaw. That's what the Sirens showed me. My fatal flaw is hubris."
  • I blinked. "That brown stuff they spread on veggie sandwiches?"
  • She rolled her eyes. "No, Seaweed Brain. That's hummus. Hubris is worse."
  • "What could be worse than hummus?" (p. 199)

And how can you dislike a book with the chapter title, "We Meet the Sheep of Doom"? You can't. It's that simple. This book rocks. Big Time. And, it's a Favorite of 2006.