Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #86: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #86: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick RiordanThe Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 7, 2009
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Mythology
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

Percy Jackson isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to diabolical.
In this latest installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos's army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop them, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth-a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn. Full of humor and heart-pounding action, this fourth book promises to be their most thrilling adventure yet.

Recommended by: Who else? Debby (Snuggly Oranges)

Four down and one more to go. I can’t believe I’m almost done with the Percy Jackson series, which is exciting on several levels. What the series has now is a more cohesive storyline, what I wanted in the first couple books in fact, that means not immediately going on to the next book is really hard. *kicks schedule* At any rate, I should be done with The Last Olympian by this time next week. Deep breaths, people. The Battle of the Labyrinth was full of intense twists and reveals and the stage is set for an intense final chapter.

The star of the show continues to be the world building. I mean, the characters are great too, obviously, but holy shit this world building. In every book I’m more impressed with what Rick Riordan has done to breathe fresh life into old mythology. Greek mythology was one of my favorite things as a teen and his twists on the stories are simply incredible. I was talking with Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) about this series and how many similarities it has with Harry Potter, and we both agreed that, though that was obviously an influence, Riordan’s world is so unique and so much his own that those influences don’t matter. I also have a private theory that maybe all of this was born because he was a Harry/Hermione shipper, but I can neither prove or disprove this.

I don’t want to spoil the whole plot of the book, but I do want to talk about two examples of how awesome Riordan’s take on Greek mythology is. In The Battle of the Labyrinth, Percy meets Calypso, best known from The Odyssey for trying to keep Odysseus as her love slave. Obviously, Rick Riordan didn’t have her ensnare a fourteen year-old the same way in a middle grade novel, because that would be highly uncomfortable and so not the tone of these books. In essence, the idea is the same: Calypso wants someone to stay with her and love her. However, Calypso knows that Percy has a life and she doesn’t pressure him or lie to him. She ends up being a really kind force and a really tragic one too. Rather than making her a villain, a lady trap, he makes her into a character that you can’t help but feel for. Then there’s the sphinx, which Riordan cleverly turns into a commentary on the modern educational system in a way that is completely hilarious.

That’s probably my favorite thing about Riordan’s characterization actually. There aren’t many characters that you can simply dismiss as evil. Everyone’s complex and dealing with motivations pulling them this way and that. Even though we’re just in Percy’s head, he manages to show us so much of where other people are coming from. Even Luke, who’s been the bad guy through most of the series is not shown as being impossible to redeem. There’s a lot of hatred towards Nico simply for being a child of Hades, but he too gets to make his own choices, which could lead him in any direction. To that point, Hermes is one of the good gods and yet Luke turned. Riordan’s very clear in his message, without overtly stating it, that it doesn’t matter who your parents are or what you’ve been through; only you decide your path. He manages to do this, even though each book is laden with prophecy. The prophecies turn out to be true, but they leave a lot of wiggle room for things to play out, because often they could have more than one meaning.

Percy remains charmingly the same throughout the series. He’s grown up a lot for sure, but in his core he’s the same. For one thing, the boy still isn’t the brightest. Thinking is not his strong suit. Acting is. He’s impulsive and very much needs Annabeth along on his quests for long-range planning. In a battle, Percy can do amazing things, because they’re all about instinct. In romance, not so much, because he is not great at reflection and emotions involve a lot of reflection. Percy often realizes what’s going on much after the other characters and the reader has. Often, this is a problem in middle grade, but in Percy Jackson I think it really works, precisely because the other characters already knew what was up and mock Percy in a loving way for being a seaweed brain. It’s very clear that though Percy does amazing things in each book, he could never have done any of it alone.

The middle grade romantic drama is beginning to come to a head here. I’m not sure why I don’t ship it like burning. Perhaps because Percy’s still fourteen and I expected the romance to be a bit more based on all the flails? Anyway, I do think Percy and Annabeth’s crushes and inability to deal with them are cute, but I’m not dying of feels from it yet. I say yet, because there’s always hope. I’m a bit torn because I do actually love Rachel Elizabeth Dare, and, though I know it’s not to be, I wouldn’t mind seeing her end up with Percy either. I am sure Debby and Gillian are giving me WTF faces right now. Sorry, guys.

I am, however, starting to have some real feels in this series, so book five could be intense. The reveals in this one had me on the edge of my seat and all capsing to Gillian because holy shit. Plus, I have a new favorite character, Mrs. O’Leary, who’s the sweetest hellhound you ever will meet. I had some major feels for this poor pooch. I’m also having some definite Nico feels. And some frustration with Percy for being an idiot when it comes to girls, but also that’s just so Percy.

I am super excited to finish the series in the coming week. I’m hoping for a feels-splosion, for some major character death, and for some real romance feels. I’m also hoping that the book is set at least partially not in summer, because the bad guy would not just wait for summers. The fact that the campers only have to deal with the Greek mythology stuff in the summer is getting a bit unbelievable at this point. Like, yeah, the forces of evil will totally wait to start the battles while the kids go to high school. I just bet.

Favorite Quote:

“Percy, lesser beings do many horrible things in the name of the gods. That does not mean we gods approve. The way our sons and daughters act in our names . . . well, it usually says more about them than it does about us.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif hercules our story actually begins
Obviously the story didn’t just begin, but this is appropriate because shit just got real.

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6 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #86: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan”

  1. Gillian says:

    “Riordan’s very clear in his message, without overtly stating it, that it doesn’t matter who your parents are or what you’ve been through; only you decide your path.”

    “Percy remains charmingly the same throughout the series. He’s grown up a lot for sure, but in his core he’s the same. For one thing, the boy still isn’t the brightest. Thinking is not his strong suit. Acting is. He’s impulsive and very much needs Annabeth along on his quests for long-range planning.”

    “It’s very clear that though Percy does amazing things in each book, he could never have done any of it alone.”

    JUST GOING TO LEAVE THSOE AWESOME QUOTES THERE AND STARE AT THEIR AWESOME AND RESIST THE URGE TO TATTOO THEM ON MY BODY

    “I am sure Debby and Gillian are giving me WTF faces right now. Sorry, guys.” UM, YEAH PRETTY MUCH. YOU CRAZY.

    “I’m also having some definite Nico feels.” SOOOO MANY NICO FEELS OMK JUST YOU WAIT UNTIL THE SECOND SERIES which I am convinced will make you SHIP LIKE THE SHIPPING GODS and is also more YA than MG so THERE.
    Gillian recently posted…Book Haul, or the One Where I Give in to TemptationMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I MIGHT BE READING BOOK FIVE RIGHT NOW. SHIT HAS ALREADY HIT THE FAN, GILLIAN. OR EXPLODED THE COUGH AS THE CASE MAY BE.

      I like how it’s a love triangle, but only barely because he’s too busy for figuring out who to kiss. Poor Percy. No kissing time.

      MORE YA. Yes, please.

  2. Oh Christina. CHRISTINA. Just you wait. TLO had me legitimately scared. He really ramps up the stakes.
    Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room recently posted…Rewind & Review (66)My Profile

  3. I’m glad you’re enjoying this series. I really liked it, but I am even liking the second series (The Heroes of Olympus) more.

    I actually think the characters are the best part of the books, not the world building, although I did like the world building. I just think Riordan created such interesting characters, and I loved the personalities is created for the Greek Gods. Awesome!

    Also, I totally ship Percy and Annabeth!
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Audio Review: A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses by Molly HarperMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I suspect I’ll like the next series more, because older. There’s only so much (kissing) middle grade can have. *coughs*

      Well, the world building is also kind of characters, in that the Greek Gods move so far from their stereotypes, so it really all comes together beautifully.

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