Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan: Salute your shorts...or toga

The Sea of Monsters. Rick Riordan (2007).
NY: Miramax/Hyperion Books. ISBN: 978-1423103349

In honor of book 5 aka
The Last Olympian dropping like it's hot AND because there is going to be a movie starring a ton of famous adult actor people (including a Hollywood crush of mine, Kevin McKidd, as Poseidon), I present to you, my pretend audience, my two cents on the second Percy Jackson book. I think I reigned it in pretty well in the review below, but my inner 12 year old fangirl is totally digging Percy Jackson, and I'll let my freak flag fly a little bit here before I start said review. I mean...what's not to love? Greek mythology? Check. Exciting fight sequences? Check. Interesting, personable, realistic protagonists? Check. A sense of humor and mucho jokes? Check.

For a chick who as a middle schooler used to stay in to watch Xena, who attended summer camp well into her 20's, and who still loves D'Aulaires book of Greek mythology, Rick Riordan has struck me with the literary equivalent of Cupid's Arrow. Looooooveeeee. Again, I say much of this below, but my love is not redundant. I love you, Percy Jackson. I'm sorry if that is weird because you are 12 or something. You just can't fight a love like ours, okay?

Just a heads up...if you haven't read The Lightning Thief (aka book one in this series, stop reading now!).

We did a recent election in the Children's Room where I work to coincide with the presidential election. Instead of voting for a presidential candidate, kids were asked to vote for their all time favorite book. Not so shockingly, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series won in a landslide with kids grades 4-6. Not just a blow to the
Series of Unfortunately Events, this is a book that needs only the fanfare of the first book and the word of mouth popularity that it has generated to convince the majority of kids to read it. I flippin' love this series too, and I can read at well above a 6th grade reading level (not to toot my own horn, kiddies). I'm not sure if the fact that I used to obsessively watch Xena Warrior Princess has anything to do with my chortling over the way Riordan cleverly inserts heroes, monsters and gods into this modern story (Aries looks like he's boss of a biker gang).

The Sea of Monsters is the second book in this awesome adventure series, which is yet unfinished (obviously now it is). Each of these takes on the shape of a Greek epic quest; this one is the Odyssey. Like the first book (The Lightning Thief), the story follows Percy Jackson, the demi-god son of Poseidon and a human woman, who has only recently learned that he's not just your average 7th grader. After the excitement of discovering his true identity, attending Camp Half-Blood, (a summer camp for the children of the Olympian gods) and surviving an ordeal to recover Zeus' stolen lightening bolt with his fellow demi-god Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and bestie Grover (who just happens to be a satyr), Percy has had a fairly normal school year for the first time in his life. Things go awry on the last day when a normal game of dodgeball turns into a fight for his life. Annabeth appears to save both Percy and his new bud, Tyson, only to let them know that things are looking pretty bleak down at Camp Half-Blood too; the magical borders that protect the camp grounds are shrinking. Percy, Annabeth and Tyson are catapulted into an adventure in the Sea of Monsters to save Camp Half-Blood, and along the way, Percy is bound to find out some more shocking things about his mysterious family.

Best for:
Everyone. Even you, old people like me. Basically, if you liked Harry Potter, and you like adventure, and you like or know anything about Greek mythology, you'll probably enjoy these books. As my roommate says, "They're basically New York style Harry Potter." Well said, sage roomie.
4th grade and up for independent reading, but younger children will probably enjoy being read these books as well.

Book talk hook: I'm not entirely sure one is necessary…it is Percy Jackson and all! I think I would probably rather book talk the first rather than the second book, since it is a series that builds on itself, and I don't know that I would recommend just one random book out of it over recommending the whole shebang.

*And when the hard cover complete set of these books drops, I want to be the first to know, Amazon!

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