The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
(Book #2 of The Heroes of Olympus)
This review will contain spoilers for The Lost Hero.
I’m pretty pissed at Rick Riordan right now.
But why, Meg? you ask. Riordan is your favorite.
I ended up listening to the last hundred-or-so pages via audiobook when I discovered that the reader for The Son of Neptune was actually palatable. Around the 30-minutes-left mark, I started to get anxious.
The narrative wasn’t as far as I wanted it to be. This whole book, I’ve been waiting for the characters from The Lost Hero to show up, but there just wasn’t time to do it justice. The minutes ticked away, and I started to verbally cuss at iTunes. By the time the Audible tag played at the end, I was positively fuming.
Yes, I’m mad. Now I have to wait a full year before I find out what happens with that delightful, torturous cliffhanger.
Let me lay it out for you:
The Son of Neptune picks up eight months after the conclusion of The Lost Hero. This narrative parallels the first book in one key way: The main hero has no memory. In The Lost Hero, it was Jason Grace, leader of the Roman demigods. But in The Son of Neptune, it’s Percy Jackson who wakes up with no recollection of who he is.
It is indescribably good to be back with Percy. Though written in third person (unlike the first person narrative of the original Percy Jackson series), the character is just as strong and wonderfully sarcastic as always. He finds himself in the camp of the Roman demigods, a place that is not nearly as friendly as his forgotten Greek home.
That was key to making this story—and this series—work. Readers are already familiar and attached to the Greek characters. To suddenly introduce a whole new regime is a gutsy move in an established universe, but Riordan does it with abandon—chugging on with Roman terms and gods without slowing down to hold the reader’s hand. Because of the full immersion into the Roman world, there is hardly a hiccup in the narrative—at least not yet. What happens in future books, when the two camps meet up, may still be a disaster.
One remarkable thing to note is that after years of waiting to get back in the brain of Percy, I actually found myself positively yearning to know what was happening with Jason, Piper and Leo, the heroes of the first book. It’s either a testament to how strong of a debut novel The Lost Hero is, or it’s because the characters in The Son of Neptune are not quite as engaging.
I enjoyed Hazel, daughter of Pluto (Hades, for you Greek people out there), who was brought back from the dead after losing her life in the 1940s. But Frank, the third character who shares the narrative, was a little too timid for me. Sure, he had brave moments at the end, but it was countered by more than his fair share of self-doubt. He was the least heroic demigod that Riordan has presented thus far, but one who also has great potential. Hopefully, his evolution will become something wonderful later down the line.
When I try to describe the finer points of what the first two novels have set up for the potential story of book three, I realize something. Riordan has cleverly tricked me into reading epic fantasy. There are six—likely seven—heroes that have the potential to share the narrative in the next books. There are love triangles, amnesia, people being brought back from the dead, and historical enemies joining sides to battle the greatest evil of our times.
In other words, it’s setting up to be one badass series. I absolutely cannot wait for next fall.