I Just Don't Think This Book is So Great
7 December, 2010
*** Warning: This review contains spoilers! ***
I was disappointed in this final book of the series. I gave previous books in the series from 2 1/2 to 4 stars, but this one I really thought was the worst. I know it was written for a younger audience, and maybe my expectations were too high, but I just felt it was lacking in so many ways.
As usual, there was too much re-cap in re-introducing characters. I guess there's value in making each book a stand-alone book, but I still think it could have been done more naturally, less explicitly.
As the series progressed, both Annabeth and Percy became torn between two love interests, and I think Riordan did a good job portraying their feelings. However, Annabeth's hypocritical behavior was nothing short of bitchy. I am loath to use profanity, but that is honestly the best word to describe her. By the end, I was rooting for Rachel (who, by the way, became one of my favorite characters). Even after all the back-and-forth with Annabeth's emotions, the closing scenes didn't give her enough credit - with a repentant Luke dying in her arms, she tells him she didn't love him, even though she pined for him through all five books?! Whatever.
Rachel's new-found clairvoyance was a nice development, but did Riordan have to do it à la Isaac Mendez from Heroes?
All the characters remained too one-dimensional, and Riordan unfortunately passed up opportunities for some real character development. Clarisse is given a soft side via Chris and Silena, but she remained unapologetically hot-tempered, stubborn, and proud. Silena, for her part, made a valiant eleventh-hour push to help the heroes, but her role as spy was completely brushed aside, chalked up to her naiveté and Luke's manipulation. Apparently, since she was otherwise well-liked, there was no need to be concerned about the deaths her espionage caused, including that of her boyfriend Beckendorf.
There was a definite annoyingly Harry Potter-esque moment when Percy wanted to contact Rachel but didn't know how to do it. Apparently, the most common means of mythological communication - the Iris-message - slipped his mind.
Throughout most of the story, the heroes are fully engaged in a war with the Titans, and much of the book describes one battle scene after another. Unfortunately, rather than making the reader feel as if he is caught up in the action as well, the battle descriptions read more like matter-of-fact reporting. And, as usual, there's a lot of being saved at the last minute by an unexpected third party.
At the close of the series, I was unimpressed with the entire story arc. The Titan lord Kronos was re-formed only because of Luke's actions, and in the end, it was Luke himself who saved the world from Kronos. It just seems kind of lame that the potential ruin of the known world, and it's savior, came down to one person changing his mind.
Finally, there was quite a bit of discussion about fate in the book, and how nobody, including Hermes, could have stopped Luke's fate. Love of friends, good education, not even better parenting could have helped Luke to make better decisions. This type of defeatism really bothered me, especially since the intended audience is middle schoolers; I don't like the idea of giving impressionable youth the message that no matter what they do, no matter what their parents do, no matter what path they take in life, they have one undeniable and immutable fate.