Review: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Hidden Oracle by Rick RiordanThe Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Narrator: Robbie Daymond
Length: 10 hrs, 40 mins
Series: The Trials of Apollo #1
Published by Listening Library on May 3, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Mythology
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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three-stars

How do you punish an immortal? By making him human. After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disoriented, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favor. But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters, and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go... an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

At this point, I don’t think I have much to say about Riordan’s novels that I haven’t said before, but here goes. The Hidden Oracle has the same basic formula as all of the books that have come before it. The continue to be most interested in white males, to have forced diversity that you can basically feel Riordan applauding himself for, and to be rather fun in spire of all of that.

I preferred The Hidden Oracle to Riordan’s other offering this year, The Sword of Summer, though that may have been down to the talent of Robbie Daymond, the narrator of this audiobook. His voice for Apollo is absolute perfection, delightfully snobby and know-it-all. He does some good voices for others, including Percy, and I highly recommend the audiobook if you’re planning to read this one.

With newer Riordan, I can feel my patience eroding, with the end result that I find it hard to care about anyone who wasn’t part of the original cast. As such, the only characters I really cared about were Percy, Nico, and Will. At least one or the other of them is there for most of the book. I was pretty eh about Meg, and, while Apollo’s kinda funny, I’m not sure how I feel about him as a narrator. It’s also annoying that he could appear as anything but of course he appears as a white male. Like, fucking of course.

Nico and Will continue to be adorable, but Riordan’s way too proud of his one non-het relationship. Everything would be fine if he didn’t feel the need to justify it. When Apollo realizes they’re a couple, he breaks the fourth wall to be like “you might be wondering how I feel about this” and actually I wasn’t because I’m not a douchebag. This book is so determinedly heteronormative, which is annoying because Riordan’s trying so hard to establish Apollo specifically and the gods in general as open to all kinds of sexuality. The end result is something that sounds both preachy and unsure.

The plotting of this one is not Riordan’s best. His plots tend to run a bit simple anyway, because, though he’s been writing more towards a YA audience in his character ages, he definitely still writes down to middle grade. You will figure everything out way before it plays out, and that’s just how that goes. Meg’s parentage is so obvious but not revealed until about halfway for no reason whatsoever. Apollo has memory loss since he’s stuck in a mortal brain which can’t process all of his memories. All that means, though, is that Apollo forgets stuff to create obstacles and then conveniently gets them back just in time to save the day. It’s massively lame.

Apollo’s problems with being made into a mortal are simultaneously the strongest and the weakest aspect of the book (not counting the appearances by Percy, Will and Nico, which are obviously the best). Weak because holy crap that amnesia of sorts is awful. Strong because Apollo’s stuck in this weird place character-wise. He’s suddenly able to change in a way that he can’t do as a god, because he has new perspective and understanding. He’s simultaneously sixteen and awkward, and thousands of years old and overconfident. Riordan does a pretty good job with this. However, this is one place where I hope there’s no romance, at least for the lead character, because it feels so creepy whenever he thinks about how hot one of the teens at Camp Half-Blood is.

If you’ve enjoyed Riordan’s previous work, you’ll probably enjoy this one too. The audiobook is fantastic. I just continue to wish that Riordan had more to offer than the standard white male patriarchy. Unfortunately I think this will be the formula forever and ever amen. I’m constantly considering quitting his books, but I’ll probably stick it out through at least this series if Daymond continues to narrate.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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