Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #98: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #98: The Blood of Olympus by Rick RiordanThe Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Series: The Heroes of Olympus #5
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 7, 2014
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 516
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

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.

Recommended by:  Debbus (Snugglus Orangus)

Wooo! I’m done. Two series successfully binged. I even passed Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) who started this series several months before me. This is an achievement of some sort. I would have passed Debby too, only she read it a couple days before I finished so that would not happen. Man, it’s been a long journey, traveling with Percy and company. A good one too. It had its rocky moments, for sure, and today is the day I talk about them. In this review, I’m going to be talking a lot about the series as a whole (The Heroes of Olympus, not Percy Jackson and the Olympians) and some thoughts that have been growing as I went through. This is going to be long.

gif let me list my feels

The Heroes of Olympus series is, in my opinion, not as good as Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I feel like this is true on an objective level, but obviously if you didn’t much like Percy then you might prefer the second series. If you did really like Percy’s voice, you’re going to (or have had) problems. I’ve talked in passing about some of my issues with the change in prior reviews of the series, but now I really want to delve into them.

Percy Jackson has a whole bunch of flaws: he’s not an intellectual giant and he makes decisions emotionally and impulsively. However, he has a huge heart, which is also his tragic flaw, and a great sense of humor. Some of Percy’s jokes are crass or silly or don’t hit, but he’s always trying to lighten the mood. When Percy Jackson is the focal point, particularly in a first person narrative, the dark subject matter is offset by the humorous tone. For me, that sort of juxtaposition really heightens my feels, because the moment when shit is so dark that a joker can’t keep joking slaughters me emotionally.

gif laugh in the face of danger
The moment the laughter stops is the moment the danger might defeat you.

In The Heroes of Olympus, Riordan added five new main characters to join Percy and Annabeth for the prophecy of the seven, which seems to me more like it should have been eight or nine since Nico and Reyna were both instrumental as well, but whatever. In theory, I’m totally cool with new blood. The Roman/Greek divide and the way it incapacitates the gods is really cool. However, I don’t feel like the additional POVs were handled effectively at all. For all that each of these five books are longer than the Percy Jackson series, I still feel like I hardly know anything about Frank and Hazel, for example.

gif wait who are you people jlaw
I really should know by now.

The reader had five books to get to Percy and Annabeth, and a couple less to meet Nico. They spent a couple of books leveling up so that they would be strong enough to fight the evil bosses. While that wasn’t my favorite part, I think that it was essential. I got to see Percy and Annabeth grow up. I got to see their feelings change from frustration to love. I was THERE for it and experienced everything with them. I also don’t question their demigod skills, because I’ve watched them earn them every step of the way.

With this new crop, there’s none of that. Piper and Leo scarcely trained at all before they went off on their first quest. Yeah, jumping into serious plot is nice, but not worth the loss of character development. When did Piper learn to wield weapons effectively? There’s some minor reference made to her training with Hazel, but suddenly she’s kicking ass, which might have been awesome, like when Octavia learns to fight like a grounder, but we just don’t SEE it. Similarly, though the Romans clearly have been training hard and since they were younger, I still have trouble dealing with how young they are, Hazel especially, for this large of a quest. Riordan didn’t send a thirteen year old Percy to fight Kronos. Then there’s the romance between Frank and Hazel, which had apparently been simmering, but we don’t see any of that. It’s just there. None of this is set up in a way that makes me care about the new characters right off the bat. Despite the lack of training, there will always be someone in the cast who has heard of each obscure person from Greek or Roman mythology. Convenient that.

gif how did you know that
Me, constantly.

Then there’s the switch to third person multiple POVs. With the way the quest kept splitting up, in a way that I don’t think ever happened in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Riordan did have to use multiple narrators. The switch to third makes that easier for him, since seven unique POVs would be incredibly difficult. What I question with the POVs is the logic behind which POVs are used in which book. Piper, I believe, is the only character to have her POV in four books of the series. Why? I could not begin to tell you. In The Blood of Olympus, Percy and Annabeth don’t get perspectives but Nico and Reyna do. It was plot-necessary for the latter to have perspectives in this book, but Percy and Annabeth were in key scenes too.

gif her arrested development
HER?

In this case, my frustration ties very strongly to my dislike of Piper, as well as my meh feelings towards most of the other new characters. Leo alone has a substantial sense of humor of the new characters and, shockingly, he’s the only one I ended up having any feels about (unless you count desire to murder as a feel). The thing is that, even in a third person limited point of view, if the character is overly serious, their POV will be too. You’re following them everywhere and the only jokes happen when they talk to Leo or Percy. That made this series drag in a way the Percy Jackson books didn’t and the tone is very different. In fact, I’ve been saying that I think these books are darker, but I’m now questioning that; I think it’s not that they’re darker so much as they’re moodier. More on that later.

gif joke star trek
This is how good most of them are with jokes.

Now I have to talk about something I really don’t want to say and I really hope that you guys will trust me enough to not take the wrong way. The diversity in this series is a hot mess. I am glad that there are diverse demigods now, of course, but I don’t think this was handled any better than the POV switch. It was so apparent as I embarked on The Heroes of Olympus that Riordan had received (deserved) criticism for the lack of diversity in his books. He addressed that by adding a bunch of new diverse characters with the subtlety of a jackhammer to the face.

On the plus side, the main cast is quite diverse now, though the rest remains pretty white. The thing that really gets me though is that it reads like checking off a list for diversity: black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American. The characters admittedly don’t act stereotypical (except possibly Piper), which is great, but they still ended up feeling sort of token to me. Also, if you’re not a fan of diverse characters being described using food words, um, steer clear. What really gets me is that, until The Blood of Olympus, Percy, Annabeth, and Jason, the three white demigods, were pretty much leading the quest, obviously the most powerful demigods, which the others observe frequently. This is in spite of the fact that so many of the diverse cast members have powers above and beyond the powers inherited by a normal child of their godly parent (unlike Jason, Percy and Annabeth): Leo (fire), Hazel (ability to manipulate jewels and precious metals), and Frank (ability to shapeshift). Piper’s ability to charmspeak feels the same to me, but Riordan sort of retcons that in The Lost Hero, saying that it’s an Aphrodite talent, one that Percy apparently had never heard about. There’s also her apparently innately perfect intuition you learn about later.

gif jlaw shrug

In The Blood of Olympus, Percy and Annabeth are very much shunted to the side. They suddenly become pretty close to the most useless characters in the books, perhaps to offset the fact that up until then Percy had been called by many the most powerful demigod. Suddenly, Piper of all demigods is the most important and powerful. She has, up to this book, been someone that would not have been their first pick in a fight (I think this is joked about even), but suddenly she’s fighting giants like a ninja. She can charmspeak anyone now, even though it used to not work particularly well on gods. Let’s not even talk about her magic singing. Then there’s the fact that now she is the one the group turns to for leadership and planning. Yeah, Pipers gut instincts are apparently much more reliable than Annabeth’s logic. Fucking sure.

gif spock smash star trek
Spock and I do not approve of this betrayal of logic.

Piper should have a character arc. She doesn’t. I’d say Hazel and Frank don’t have much of an arc either, but with Piper it’s much more noticeable. Piper spends several books being selfish, caring only about herself and Jason. Rather than really learning a lesson and having a change of heart or being won over, she’ll be in a scene with another demigod and suddenly go “I love Annabeth” or whoever she’s with. There’s no progression. It’s all telling. The narration says that Piper cares about people now. Um, no, narration, this is not enough.

Though I hate that Percy and Annabeth didn’t have perspectives in The Blood of Olympus and the forced promotion of Piper to best demigod evah, I do like the conclusion of Percy and Annabeth’s story. This ship has been through a lot and I think that the way they sort of begin fading into obscurity with The Blood of Olympus is quite nice. Demigods only keep fighting for so long and Percy and Annabeth were instrumental in two major wars. They’re done and they deserve to be.

Percabeth gif

Um, how amazing is this. SOURCE.

I’ve gone on and on about how I think the characterization is lacking in this series, but, in the last two books, Riordan did make amazing strides. Jason, Leo and Nico all have amazingly powerful arcs. Though I didn’t ever learn to love Jason, I did end up liking him (and feeling like he could do so much better than Piper). Unlike the attempts to make me believe that Piper cares about anyone but herself, the books show Jason coming to care for his fellow demigods and really becoming part of the team. He also comes up with a good cause and a plan for who he wants to be. It didn’t give me the feels, but it was solid.

Leo’s arc is mostly about him learning to like himself. His jocularity and boasting is a mask for his lack of self-confidence. He’s short, he’s not a great fighter, and he’s the only single person on the Argo II. He acts like he’s all that and jokes around so that the others won’t pity him. Leo tries hard. He ends up saving the day a lot, not in the flashy way that the others do, but in the background. Without the ship and Festus and a lot of other stuff he does with his tinkering, they would have gotten nothing done. He’s probably the most irreplaceable one on the quest, though I don’t think anyone really appreciates that. Thankfully, he finally gets an adorable and feelsy romance in book four. It’s perfection for both Leo and Calypso, who finally falls in love with personality and not looks/power.

gif hercules i won't say i'm in love
GUH, this ship.

I want to give Nico the biggest hug in the world. Over all of these books, he’s felt like he didn’t belong. Much like Leo, he’s been dealing with some serious self-loathing and the feeling that no one wants him around. He’s also gay and dealing with serious concerns about that, since there’d been no mention of homosexuality ever until The House of Hades. View Spoiler »

The ending, as you can probably tell, I loved in a lot of ways. It closed out a lot of character arcs beautifully. However, I also had some serious issues with it too. The non-spoilery version is that a lot of punches were pulled, partly perhaps due to the length of the books not (oddly) being long enough. View Spoiler »

This series has been a mixed bag. I’m still glad it exists and that I read it, but it’s also ham-handed in a lot of ways that Percy Jackson and the Olympians was not. For all my frustrations, I still really would like a third series set in this universe that followed Reyna, because I am so curious about her romantic future after the multiple mentions of the prophecy about that. These two series have been an epic adventure, but I’m glad to be home to rest up for a while.

Favorite Quote:

“Decapitation is not a healthy lifestyle choice.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif collapses on bed
Pretty much how I feel after writing this review and finally finishing the series.

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4 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #98: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan”

  1. I didn’t read this one yet BUT WHAT IF REYNA IS IN THE NEW SERIES? THE ONE ABOUT THE NORTHERN GODS? I MEAN IF THERE IS A PROPHECY THERE HAS TO BE A RESOLUTION RIGHT?
    Bound With Words recently posted…January: ParanormalMy Profile

  2. Jaina says:

    Haha, I think it
    s just about impossible to write a short review of BOO! Mine is also very long. I agree with you that the character developement in the second series was pretty bad. Riordan should have focused on perfecting a few characters, instead of having so many different people and minority groups that they all blended together.
    If you’re interested in reading it, my review of BLOOD OF OLYMPUS is here.
    Jaina recently posted…Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins, 2014My Profile

  3. You know, I read Percy Jackson and the Olympians so long ago, that I’m not sure if I can accurately decide which series i liked better. I know that The Mark of Athena and House of Hades really had me feeling lots of feels.

    I actually liked that Riordan switched things up with regards to POV in this series. Did I miss Percy? Like you wouldn’t believe. But I just felt like this series wasn’t solely about Percy.

    And although I can definitely understand what you mean about how the diverse cast felt like checking all the major ethnicity and race off a list, I still think Riordan did a good job.

    But yay for finishing this!!
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Review: One Perfect Night by Bella AndreMy Profile

  4. “I would have passed Debby too, only she read it a couple days before I finished so that would not happen.”
    HAHA. I’m not childishly competitive or anything. Nope.

    PERCY IS EVERYTHING
    “For me, that sort of juxtaposition really heightens my feels, because the moment when shit is so dark that a joker can’t keep joking slaughters me emotionally.”
    *CRIES FOREVER*

    Frank and Hazel were completely ignored after book 3 I think. =/ SO POINTLESS. Not that I even care. I didn’t even know enough about them to care. THAT says a lot.

    UGH PIPER. (That HER? gif is perfect.)

    “You’re following them everywhere and the only jokes happen when they talk to Leo or Percy. That made this series drag in a way the Percy Jackson books didn’t and the tone is very different.”
    EXCELLENT POINT. It’s not like the plot is that much darker than PJO, but PJO just had constant interjections of humor and that made the series so much more FUN.

    “Yeah, Pipers gut instincts are apparently much more reliable than Annabeth’s logic. Fucking sure.”
    I WILL NEVER ACCEPT THIS. MY HEADCANON SAYS NOOOOOO.

    DEATH BY AMAZING PERCABETH GIF.

    “He’s probably the most irreplaceable one on the quest, though I don’t think anyone really appreciates that.”
    WHY ARE MY EYES LEAKING WHAT IS THIS

    Your spoiler Piper headcanon is perfection and I shall adopt it as well.

    Anyway I 100% agree with all of this, but you knew that. I’m just slooooooooow.
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…2014 FavoritesMy Profile

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