A few weeks ago, I read the first book in Rick Riordan's newest demigod series and was engaged but a little irked. The same is true of book two, The Son of Neptune. I mentioned in the previous review how startled I was by the transparency of the Riordan formula and the same is true of this volume.
It opens with a male hero who forgets his past but quickly finds his way to a demigod camp; this time, it's everyone's favorite guy, Percy Jackson. He finds his way to Camp Jupiter and is very confused--he has a hazy set of memories that contradict a lot of what he's seeing. It's not long before he befriends Hazel Levesque and Frank Zhang, two of the camp's misfits, and the three are sent on a quest to do an impossible thing in an impossibly short time.
Just like The Lost Hero, the book is narrated in turns by three characters: Percy, Hazel and Frank. In book one, there is a romance between Jason and Piper; here, the awkward, budding relationship is between Hazel and Frank. Frank and Hazel both have secrets about themselves that they eventually reveal (just like Piper and Leo), and while the secrets are more interesting, the manner in which the characters will think about but not explain their hidden information for much of the book is just as annoying as before.
In some ways, The Son of Neptune is more tiring than its predecessor because of how heavily it copies the "lost memory new camp" formula (not to mention the "sidekicks with secrets" thing). But in other ways, it's less tiring. First, we have Percy back. That's all I ever wanted, really. I love Percy Jackson, and even though the book isn't narrated in the first person, it's nice just to be around him. Hazel and Frank are a little more interesting and well-written than Leo and Piper, less single-minded/annoying. Halfway through the book, we meet Ella the harpy, who was a total delight. I hope she sticks around.
Importantly, Camp Jupiter is new to us. Part of what was so frustrating about The Lost Hero was how heavy the explanation was about Camp Half-Blood, as if we hadn't already spent 5 previous books learning all about it. There were huge chunks of book one dedicated to the retreading the information we already knew; here, those same passages are explaining the Roman demigod camp, which is very different to what we have already seen. Thus, the information is interesting and I didn't mind reading about it--in fact, I found myself wanting to know more.
And, as every other Riordan book I've read, the quest is exciting and engaging. As I said previously, it's hard to get angry about the formulaic quality when that formula is repeatedly used to make fast-paced narratives that always succeed in drawing me in. I always enjoy seeing how the author is going to find new ways to mix in the pantheon of gods with modern society, and rarely am I disappointed. Riordan's inventiveness and love for Greek mythology are on every page.
No doubt, I'll keep reading. You ought to, too.
My rating: 4/5
The Son of Neptune on Goodreads