Title: The Lost Hero
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Heroes of Olympus #1
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars
The Overview: Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper, and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly? Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare about his being in trouble. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits during the school trip, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out. Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about, and some camper who’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god. Does this have anything to do with Jason’s amnesia, or the fact that Leo keeps seeing ghosts? -Goodreads
Admittedly, I was a bit late to the Percy Jackson party. I ended up loving PJ enough to purchase hardcovers for all things Riordan, the set for Heroes of Olympus being among my favorite things on my shelves (so pretty!). However, it did take me a long while (5+ years) to get around to reading these, mostly because I was unaware it had anything to do with PJ until my best friend clued me in.
This series is not just a spinoff, it’s a bonafide continuation with a mix of old and new characters! I definitely would’ve started it sooner had I been aware of that. The newby characters were exceptionally well-developed compared to other middle grade series. It actually surprised me how much depth of character I got from their rich backstories. It made their motives and actions have a much bigger impact on the overall arc of the story, which really helped build my enthusiasm for what’s to come.
So, good characters aside, I have mixed feelings about the actual plot of The Lost Hero. Other than the chapters spent in Camp Halfblood (like Hogwarts, I think any time spent in magical establishment for kids is golden material), I found the plot unnecessarily long and repetitive. Meet a new mythical monster, fight it, lather, repeat. It didn’t give me a whole lot to latch onto and I found myself putting it down in favor of other things after getting that “wait, didn’t I just read this?” feeling every time I picked it up. The good characters and some of the other cool components (like the metal dragon on the cover) kept me reading (plus that weird motivation that comes from the mindset that I “should” love this series), but overall it didn’t knock my socks off. It got a pass because it has all the makings of something great, and I know the level of awesomeness Riordan is capable of. Even so, I believe this first book could’ve been pared down a bit for a much more concise and interesting story. Maybe it’s just me.
All that said, I think (it has been a while) I had similar issues with the first PJ book, and ended up absolutely loving the second one and beyond. Now that I know the main conflict of this series (introduced at the end of Lost Hero, which might be part of the initial issue even though I really loved the “reveal”), I like where Riordan is going with the story. I’m hoping to see my ratings increase with each installment.
Recommendations: I think at this point most people interested in this author have already tried him. However if you’re like me and late to the party, I would only recommend this Heroes of Olympus series if you’ve already read (and loved) Percy Jackson. It’s a direct continuation with spoilers abound for the first series. I think the saga is an awesome rec for middle grade readers, and as a bookseller I saw it spark a love of both reading and mythology in kids, which is pretty friggin cool.
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