#34 A Review of The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series #2) by Rick Riordan

Cover ImageAbout 5 months ago I was introduced to the world of Percy Jackson.  I was extremely excited when I first began reading the series, for it contained two things I love: a good adventure story and Greek mythology.  I was a huge fan of the first novel in the series (see my review here), and I was interested to see what else Riordan had in store for Percy and his friends.  I really love how Riordan brings Greek mythology into the spotlight, as I feel that it isn’t touched upon enough in today’s media even though the stories hold important lessons in life and morality.
Life has been going great for Percy Jackson.  He’s made it through a full year in one school, he’s made a friend, Tyson, and he’s headed back to Camp Half-Blood where he’ll continue his training as the son of Poseidon.  All seems to be going well until three Laistrygonians (enormous fire wielding monsters) show up and begin attacking Percy and his schoolmates.  After narrowly escaping the attack, Annabeth appears and helps Percy and his friend Tyson get away to Camp Half-Blood.  During the trip Percy realizes that Tyson is a cyclops and sees that Annabeth is incredibly uneasy around him.  Their arrival at Camp Half-Blood brings sorrow as they find that Thalia’s tree (an important piece of the camp’s protection) has been poisoned, and as it dies it slowly drains the protection of the camp away.  Will Percy be able to figure out a way to save the camp?  Will Annabeth reveal secrets of her past to make Percy understand her uneasiness around Tyson? 
The Sea of Monsters is an awesome follow-up to The Lightning Thief.  Riordan does a fantastic job at introducing mythological creatures and stories in a way that makes them fresh and interesting.  He is revitalizing the world of Greek mythology for a new generation.  For example, The Sea of Monsters is heavily influenced by Homer’s The Odyssey.  Percy must cross the sea of monsters, and at one point encounters the Sirens much in the fashion that Odysseus did.  Percy also faces a run-in with the same cyclops that Odysseus outsmarted.  Hopefully these references will make teens want to read Homer’s work, and spark a rebirth in interest in classic literature.
I really enjoyed seeing the friendship and trust grow between Annabeth and Percy.  After their dealings in the last book, it was a good choice on Riordan’s part to begin taking their relationship to the next level.  I was also really happy that he found a way to include Grover in the story.  Upon completing the first in the series I was nervous that Grover wouldn’t be appearing in the later novels due to the plot line his character was a part of.  It’s good to know that Riordan will be keeping our old favorites around while including them in new ways.  My only complaint was that I wish we had more time to spend with Hermes.  Hermes comes up to Percy while still at Camp Half-Blood and tries talking to him about his son Luke.  (Those who read book one will remember Luke as the main villain).  It was fascinating to read Hermes discuss his feelings on the subject of his son, who had gone rogue.
All in all the book was a stellar follow-up: jam-packed with action, adventure, monsters, and the bonds of friendship and family.  There is something to be learned from each of the books in the series, and for that reason I highly recommend that parents encourage their kids to read them.  If I’m 25 and eagerly anticipating the third book.  If that doesn’t tell you the books are good, I don’t know what will!
4 out of 5 Stars
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Hyperion/Miramax Kid Publishers (2006)
Paperback 304 pages

My Top Ten…Villains (Part I)

Many apologies for the delay in my top ten list this month!  Everyone loves a good villain.  Well maybe not everyone, but this blogger does.  I love a villain whose characterizations sometimes beat out the protagonists. My top ten list this week is composed of my top ten most memorable villains! Enjoy!

10.) The Volturi from The Twilight Series

Dark and foreboding, the Volturi are the major ruling family of the vampire world in the Twilight series.  Originally appearing disinterested and detached from those whom they rule in the beginning of the series, they soon show their might and anger when finding out that Bella knows the inner workings of the vampire world.  Ruthless and efficient, these villans are especially dangerous because they employ humans to go out into the world and bring additional humans back to the Volturi as a food source.  Now that’s blood chilling!

File:Cronos armé de la faucille (harpè) contre son père et divers médaillons pierre gravée crop.jpg9.) Kronos from The Percy Jackson Series

According to Greek Mythology Kronos was the leader of the first group of twelve Titans that overthrew their parents: the leaders of the Golden Age of mythology.  Kronos and the other Titans were then overthrown by Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades and locked away in Tartarus.  He is usually pictured with a scythe, which he used to kill his father Uranus!  In the Percy Jackson series Kronos is responsible for coordinating plans to take down Zeus and the Gods on Mount Olympus.  It’s up to Percy to figure out the plans and keep Kronos in his prison in Tartarus.   This villan has it all: a classic tale, lofty ambitions, and mythic tales.  You could call him the father of all villans!

8.) The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland

Any character whose motto is “off with their heads” deserves to be on this list in my eyes.  The Queen of Hearts is an absolute crazy bitch!  She orders everyone around, forces people to do her bidding, and abuses animals so that she can play croquet!!  Her dominance over the kingdom is absolute, and her evil cunning is unmatched.  However, her dark sense of humor provides some respite from her cold heart and makes her all the more memorable as a top villan.

7.) Wickham from Pride and Prejudice

Wickham is an absolutely horrid person.  He is a gambler, cheat, womanizer, liar, and so much more.  He leaves debt behind him  and sullies women’s reputations wherever he goes.  In Pride and Prejudice, he lies about the type of person Darcy truly is to make the residents of Meryton like him and give them his sympathy.  He is one of the worst types of villans, one who hides his true identity behind a face of compassion that changes at the last moment possible.  The fact that Wickham got most everyone to trust him except for Darcy shows how sly this fox really is!

6.) Grendel from Beowulf

For those of you who have never read Beowulf do it! Grendel is an enormous monster beast that has been terrifying and destroying the kingdom of He0r0t.  He eats soldiers, destroys buildings, and is just a royal pain in the butt.  Although his motives aren’t explicitly stated, a general need for revenge and greed drive Grendel to be the angry monster that he is.  Eventually killed by Beowulf, Grendel puts up quite a fight and is just a generally disagreeable monster.  His mom is also a pretty worthy adversary for Beowulf a well, but you have to read the book to find out about her!

Join me tomorrow for my top five villains!! Until then, happy reading!