Middle grade

[Review] The Blood of Olympus – Rick Riordan

The Blood of Olympus

The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)

Author: Rick Riordan

Publish Date: October 7th, 2014

Series: The Heroes of Olympus #5

Number of Pages: 516

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.


Review

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

I’ll put this out there right now. Please don’t kill me for it.

I finished this series only for Nico.

In my honest opinion, the first series far outshines the spin-off. For one, the characters and writing were both better in the Percy Jackson series than in this one.

So now, The Blood of Olympus.

I felt like the characters were different. This might be due to my foray into YA more than Middle Grade in the past year, but this time around, I felt like they were much more childish and out of character than I remember them being. Leo’s humor was much more obnoxious (to the point that it wasn’t funny) than I personally remembered. I felt like their characters were so unlike what I remembered them being. And Nico. Although I loved finally getting to read his POV, I couldn’t help but feel like his personality was originally portrayed as being so much more complicated than it ended up being. On top of this, he kept teasing us and saying that there were characters that were going to die and we all kept bracing ourselves for the heartbreak we’d feel when one character died. We were all expecting to cry and feel the pain BECAUSE of what happened in The Last Olympian. We expected sacrifice and pain.

I got none of that.

Riordan killed off none of the seven. Leo “died” but drank the potion. His sacrifice was supposedly “noble” and enabled him to be able to return to Calypso, but as a friend, shouldn’t he at least give his pals back at Camp Half-Blood a heads up?

But honestly, this wasn’t the most prominent issue it had.

The Blood of Olympus was very very dull. It takes forever for them to get into the battles and all of the individual problems. I’m pretty sure the only thing that kept me reading were Nico’s POVs. The buildup is so big that the payoff is disappointing. Obviously we knew that Gaea was going to be raised. If not, then the big battle would not have happened. But the way that Gaea was raised, due to Percy’s nosebleed, was so anticlimatic. The entire book was anticlimatic. I was expecting something like The Last Olympian, a great long book all about the battles and desperation of war. I was not happy with the one to three chapters, from like THREE POVs, out of all of the ones in the book. The entire book felt rushed and like a cop-out compared to what everybody in the fandom had been expecting.

Speaking of which, that ending was so not okay. There was literally no falling action that showed what happened after the battle. I mean, yay for summarizing everything, but I would sincerely like to know what the characters do. Some of them had great endings, but the rest? Not so much. What happens to Percabeth? What happens to Hazel? What about Frank? Please tell me.

I understand the appeal of a dramatic ending but this is the LAST book. I need some closure.

I also had a problem with the writing. It read like a fanfiction in some places and it felt like there had been no planning. Personally, when I try to write stuff that has many characters I do try to get a description of what every person is doing, but sometimes, it just ends up being tedious. In The Blood of Olympus, every single character’s actions during a battle were described in great detail. I love having the ability to visualize everything, but in this case, I felt like it detracted from my overall enjoyment of that particular scene and ruined the feeling of the battle.

If you don’t get what I’m talking about, here is my lovely demonstration.

The giants were coming. The ground shook as they rose from their positions and advanced on the demigods.
Frank (insert action and something to do with an animal transformation)
Percy (insert lengthy action and reasons why this POV thinks he is amazing)
Annabeth (insert action something about her fierce eyes and dagger)
Leo (insert action about tools)
Nico (insert something about dark shadows and skeletons)
Jason (insert action and something about power of Zeus)

Continue that for every single character in that battle and you get a good idea of what the scene ends up looking like.

Nico’s ending is fabulous. A little OOC, but I really liked that Riordan gave him a happy ending.

Now I’m always refreshing the Solangelo tag on Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net

Leo’s ending is also great but I didn’t like how the book cut off right after it. I wanted to see him return to Camp Half-Blood and have a similar return to how Percy came back in Battle of the Labyrinth. Either way, he and Calypso are so adorable together.

If there is any indication of the quality of this book, it’s that my ten-year-old brother didn’t get through half of it because he was bored.

2/5 Stars

The School for Good and Evil – Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

Author: Soman Chainani

Series: The School for Good and Evil #1

Publish Date: May 14th, 2013

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

New York Times Bestseller * Indie List Bestseller * Soon to be a Film from Universal Pictures * A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2013 * Waterstones Children’s Prize Nominee * Children’s Choice Reading List Selection

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.


Review

I was very very excited to read this one. It was a well-received break from all of the chick-lit and contemporary books I’ve been reading lately.

The School for Good and Evil was an interesting take on fairy tales and what might go into the creation of them in an alternate universe. I really liked it. It took a boarding school and fairy tales and put them together! How could I not like it?

I’m a sucker for books set in boarding schools. I might have bypassed this book if not for the fact that it revolves around oh what do you know? A boarding school. Nevertheless, the book had a very unique premise compared to other fairy tale books.

It begins with an introduction of our two protagonists, Agatha and Sophie. Sophie is a girly, pretty girl who believes that she’ll be the next in line to be kidnapped to attend the School for Good and Evil. Agatha on the other hand, is an ill-tempered girl with a liking for frumpy black clothing. Many believe her to be the candidate for the evil school. A series of events occur in which the two are snatched, not going along the plan that had originally been laid out. The two’s positions are switched, with Sophie entering The School for Evil and Agatha entering The School for Good. Agatha, determined to get her and Sophie home and away from the nightmare, begins formulating a plan to get them back to their beloved Gavaldon. From the beginning, anybody can tell that friendship will be a central idea of this book. I like that it had friendship as a bigger overarching theme than romance.

I liked this book right up until the last few chapters. Agatha was my favorite character from the beginning with her snarky, logical, anti-social personality. It was pretty clear who was evil and who was good even if the characters stubbornly refused to see it. But what annoyed me about the book was that in the end, Agatha changed from her personality. She was no longer the lovable, snarky girl that I had liked going into the book but instead, had become a little similar to the Sophie from the beginning of the book.

The romance was developed poorly. There was a total of two possible boys that Agatha and Sophie could have dated and one of them had a 0.000000000000000000000000000001% chance of actually getting the girl. So in  other words, there was a love square. Now where’s the fourth person you may ask? Oh it’s just Beatrix, another girl that happens to be at the school. So much of the romance is chalked up to the fairytale soulmate crap that there’s absolutely no evidence of development between the characters. I expected that even though this was fairytale based book, that there would still be at least some development. Nope. One minute they’re enemies, the next they’re soulmates. The same lack of subtle development was seen in the way that Sophie became evil. I personally think that it would have better for small details and cracks in her persona to reveal the ugly personality she had inside. Just like the jumps from enemy to soulmate, Sophie jumps from nice to evil.

The ending was disappointing. It was rushed, felt disorganized, and lacked the compelling storytelling that the rest of the book had had. But I do feel that Chainani ended the book in a good place. It sets it up really well for a sequel.

In conclusion, Chainani wrote a unique book but executed it poorly. Development isn’t executed well on all aspects from plot to his dynamic characters. Even so, I enjoyed reading this book and will definitely be picking up the sequel.

3/5 Stars

The Forbidden Stone – Tony Abbott

 

The Forbidden Stone

Author: Tony Abbott

Series: The Copernicus Legacy #1

Publish Date: January 7th, 2014

Genre: Middle grade, Adventure, Sci-fi, Mystery

Summary

The Copernicus Legacy has everything middle-grade readers love-an international adventure, a compelling friendship story, and a mission that draws on history and astronomy. Readers who loved Percy Jackson will be eager to follow our heroes on this six-book, six-novella journey and excited to enter a sweepstakes to participate in a real-life scavenger hunt hosted by Tony Abbott that lets the reader become part of the story.

It all began when four friends-Wade, Lily, Darrel, and Becca-received a strange, coded email from Wade’s uncle Henry shortly before the old man’s sudden death. They set off for Germany to attend the funeral with Wade’s father, Roald, and discover that Uncle Henry left them yet another baffling message that they suspect is the key to figuring out how and why he died.

The message leads to a clue, and the more clues they discover, the farther they travel down a treacherous path toward an ancient, guarded secret. Soon they are in a breathless race across the globe, running for their lives as a dangerous shadow organization chases them around every corner. Their only hope of saving themselves-and the world that they know-is to find twelve magical relics from a hidden past that will unlock the Copernicus Legacy.


Review

Did not like. At all.

I hated the writing. I hated the ellipses. Oh the ellipses. Nobody should ever use that many ellipses in a book. It was awful. Turn a page. Ellipse. Read a paragraph. Another ellipse. THERE WERE TOO MANY ELLIPSES.

“Darrell, on the other hand…” (page 176)

“The tram made another s-l-o-w stop. Three passengers got off. Probably going to sleep. How much longer…?” (page 177)

“‘Are you ready?’ she whispered. ‘This exact kind of dagger is called a pug…pugnale…pugnale Bolognese-‘” (page 179-180)

“Her heart stopped. ‘Yes…?'” (page 183)

“‘Uh-huh. Really? Was anything…I can’t right now, we’re in… we’re out of town. Yes. Yes. Please. As soon as I can. Thank you.'” (page 185)

“‘In case…of what?’ asked Lily.'” (page 148)

“‘This is like…,’ Lily started, then stopped when she flashed her light on the walls below. ‘Uh-oh…'” (page 148)

“‘Oh my gosh,'” said Lily, staring out the window as the station receded. ‘What…what…what are we going to do?'” (page 199)

“‘Don’t get caught?’ Lily frowned. ‘Ohhhh, man…'” (page 199)

DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN?! I ASSURE YOU THAT I DID NOT INSERT RANDOM ELLIPSES. THIS IS HOW THE BOOK WAS PRINTED.

Not only this but there are multiple grammatical sentence structure errors throughout the book. It was choppy.

But what I really detested about the book was the characters. Every single one of them was a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. I don’t care if Becca is slightly insecure. She’s still a Mary Sue. Somehow, all of them are smart in some way but then they don’t know what a substitution code is? How old are they? In what universe does a fully grown adult allow children to coerce him into flying all of them to a foreign country? In what universe, will ANYBODY be able to find five tickets on a plane to Europe in ONE DAY? The universe practically revolves around them. Becca was the worst. She knows five languages. She knows all type of history facts. She knows science. She knows friggin’ everything. She’s quiet. She’s nice. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH HER. Lily might not be smart, but she is a “fantastic researcher”. But please explain to me how she can get WIRELESS IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY SO EASILY. DID I MISS THE MEMO ABOUT HOW SHE GOT 4G IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY? IT’S REALLY EXPENSIVE THERE. DID YOU KNOW THAT? WOULD YOUR PARENTS BE WILLING TO PAY FOR WIRELESS? OH YEAH OF COURSE THEY WOULD SINCE THE ENTIRE FRIGGIN’ UNIVERSE REVOLVES AROUND THESE FOUR KIDS. DID I MISS THE FACT THAT SHE SOMEHOW MANAGED TO CONNECT TO WIFI IN A TAXI? I’M FAIRLY CERTAIN THAT TAXI’S IN EUROPE DO NOT COME WITH WIFI. AIN’T NOBODY GOT MONEY FOR THAT. PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME. HOW IS HER LAPTOP OR TABLET NOT DEAD YET? HOW? Wade is annoying. He knows science and is just as smart as Becca, but then he always feel as if she is superior. Darrell isn’t supposed to be smart, but then of course he also knows some of the lovely facts that would benefit them on their journey. It doesn’t make any logical sense. They are said to be smart but then do some of the stupidest things I have ever read. If you are trying to maintain secrecy and “stay off the grid” as you have said, DON’T POST BLOG POSTS ABOUT THE ADVENTURE. I’m pretty sure that if they KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE and WHAT YOUR PHONE AND SUCH IS, the they can PROBABLY FIGURE OUT YOU HAVE A BLOG. Secondly, WHO WIELDS A DAGGER AND TAKES IT OUT IN PUBLIC. AGAIN, SECRECY. If you take out a very expensive-looking, dangerous weapon, what normal person isn’t going to notice? Please gain some common sense.

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The plot is inane. Again, since the world REVOLVES AROUND THESE CHILDREN, they can do anything without getting in trouble. They somehow have endless pockets and can come up with fantastic plans that miraculously work. Paired with the terrible writing, the book dragged to the point that I stopped just past the halfway point. I had to force myself to read it. I applaud myself for getting that far.

Lastly, before I finish this lovely rant, the scientific facts are wrong. I appreciate the research, but use more accurate sources.

1/5 Stars