House of Hades by Rick Riodan (Disney-Hyperion , October 8, 2013)
Listed for 10 year old and up.
Now in our house new books by Rick Riodan are looked forward to with great excitement. I will admit I bought this as a pre-order so I could have it the day it came out. I read the first several pages and put it down…. for several months. There is nothing perticularly wrong with the book. The characters we have all come to know and love are still there.
- Percy Jackson son of Poseidon
- Annabeth daughter of Athena
- Nico son of Hades
- Hazel daughter of Pluto
- Leo son of Hephaestus
- Jason son of Jupiter
- Frank son of Mars
- Piper daughter of Aphrodite
- Coach Hedge – satyr who believes in solving problems with his fists
Along with countless other supporting characters: gods and goddesses, titans, giants, Greeks, Romans… fortunately they provide a 14 page glossary so if you do forget who Medea or Geryon is you can look it up. Did I mention there are a lot of characters?
My first problem was the perspective jumping. I generally do not like books that are so complex that you need to jump from perspective to perspective, there are often better ways to tell a story and if it is so complex it needs that many perspectives, then maybe editing is needed. First chapter Hazel, then Annabeth, then Leo, Percy, Frank, in fact just about every character has a chapter where the story is seen from their perspective. It makes for a choppy story. It worked in Riodan’s Egyptian series “The Kane Chronicles” because it was only two kids, a brother and sister, but Hades swaps between five or six perspectives.
Fair Warning, Spoiler alert, so if you don’t want to learn more about the story, stop now.
The second issue with this Junior Fiction series is after nine books and almost as many years the characters are no longer young kids and the issues they face are not really kid friendly issues. Compared to the Percy Jackson series, Heroes of Olympus is a much darker series. The social issues are more complex. And it is Hard to keep a series going this long and keep it fresh. At one point I thought Percy was going to ask Annabeth to marry him, and when they meets the arai in Tartarus Percy gets to experience curses from those he killed which is pretty deep stuff for a ten year old.
And in something else that might, Might, be above a fourth grader, is the fact that Nico had a crush on Percy, and his unrequited love has driven him almost to madness as is his fear of rejection from everyone he knows if they discover he is gay. Riodan throws in a minor god who confesses to killing the man he loved as to why “love is a savage monster” in Cupid’s temple right before Nico screams out his love for Percy. I could not decide if Nico’s plot twist helped the story or not. To me this is the sort of emotional conflict better suited to a YA novel. It does help Jason to understand Nico and quit teasing him.
My last complaint is the entire book is about getting Percy and Annabeth out of Tartarus. Not that that is not enough of a task, but the issues between the Greek and Roman camps are still boiling, and we have two weeks until Gaea rises, a giant statue to deliver. etc.. So almost 600 pages read, and only two weeks covered and nothing resolved. I have seen many long running series have a similar problem where either growing story complexity, or a desire to make more book$ (yes the dollar sign is intentional) result is massive books that cover very little story time. (Robert Jordan’s “Eye of the World” series is a perfect example: 1000 page books that cover 24-48 hours)
So is it worth reading? Yes. definitely. My quibbles overall are minor mostly in the appropriateness of labeling this a JF book. It is still a fun read and if you have been reading the series, you need to read this book.