Friday, August 16, 2013

The Mark of Athena (Rick Riordan)

Okay, round three of Heroes of Olympus. I'm going to burn myself out by the time I read book 4, I think. Since this is the third book I'm reviewing in the series in such a short period of time, it feels silly to repeat a lot of what I've said, so I'll try my best. No promises.

The book starts with a bang as the Greek demigods (that is, Annabeth, Piper, Leo and Jason) sail toward Camp Jupiter in the Argo II, the ship Leo has spent months fixing (with Festus the dragon as the masthead). Of course, it's a trireme, AKA a war ship, so the Romans start panicking. It doesn't help matters that after Annabeth, Piper and Jason leave the boat, it starts attacking the camp from the air. They (along with Percy, Frank and Hazel) hurriedly get back onto the ship and head toward Rome/Greece, where the final showdown is supposed to begin.

But of course there are all sorts of side-quests: someone sees something in a dream that steers them in an unexpectedly helpful direction, and there's a surprise run-in with some minor god or something that points them to their ultimate goal. Not to mention the titular Mark of Athena, which is a special quest given to Annabeth by her mother.
That is the book's annoying secret that we are repeatedly told about but not told of. It seems to be a thing in this series that we must be dragged around knowing about a secret without being told. This time is especially annoying as it's the title of the book.

Perhaps the strangest thing about this book was how annoying it was at times. Of course the book is great when it's full of action and battles, but in the book's downtime, especially in the Annabeth- and Piper-narrated sections of the book, Riordan focuses heavily on romance. And it's not done well at all. I loved Annabeth in the original Percy Jackson series--she was smart and funny and driven. Not an airhead at all. So it was quite a shock to finally read something of Annabeth's perspective that makes her sound so...stupid. She is obsessed with Percy, acting as though he is the only important thing in the world to her, that she is lost without him, that she never wants to let him out of her sight. It's offensive and very out-of-character. Piper is not much better, but it's less of a problem because she has always been this way.

But the action is great, the cliffhanger is quite grabby, and it's nice to see Percy and Annabeth together again (even if Riordan has apparently lost his ability to write his characters behaving intelligently). Whatever. I'm still going to read the final two books.

My rating: 3.5/5
The Mark of Athena on Goodreads
See what I've been reading lately!

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