Friday, November 3, 2017

A Book Review of the Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

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Jason has a problem. He doesn't remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently she's his girlfriend Piper, his best friend is a kid named Leo, and they're all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for "bad kids." What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea-except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he's in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn't recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on? 

Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What's troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper's gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all-including Leo-related to a god. 

Series: The Heroes of Olympus (Book 1)
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; Reprint edition (April 3, 2012)
Page Count: 592 pages

I love Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I read his books as a teen and thoroughly enjoyed them. I loved guessing what the monster or god would before it's revealed and I literally laughed out loud at Rick's great sense of humor. I'm so happy he's written more and I've finally gotten to reading the sequel series! I forgot how much I enjoyed reading this man's writing.

The Plot: I was held all the way to the end. The plot had a very forward momentum and I didn't feel like it stalled. Each scene had a part to play in the overall plot, I felt anxious to see what Greek or Roman mythological figure Riordan would bring in next, I laughed literally out loud many a time, and I was very satisfied at the end, yet hungry for more. This book is also friendly to newcomers to the series. Of course, it's better if you read the original, but you can jump in if this is your first Rick Riordan book.

The Characters:
Unlike Percy Jackson and the Olympians, this story focused on three main characters: Jason, Piper, and Leo. Each had very distinct points of view and each character was engaging. I never felt like I wanted to read one characters' POV over the others'. Each had an essential part to play and brought great skills to the table. By the end of the book, I felt like all of these characters were my friends. 

Immediately when Jason started referencing Greek figures as their Roman names I was interested. I'm still interested to see what all Jason has in store. He's a fun character with great ties to the original series.

Piper was unique and I loved her backstory. Riordan really fleshed it out and made her seem like a real-life character.

Leo has to be my favorite of the three. I love his Olympian parent. Trying to stay spoiler-free here, but he's my favorite Greek god below Artemis. I loved his connection with Festus the Dragon (the cover shows him riding the dragon so no spoilers there). It reminds me of Toothless and Hiccup.

There also was a wide variety of great side characters including old favorites such as Chiron, Thalia, and Annabeth then new characters such as Coach Hedge, King Midas, Hephaestus, and Cal. I also really love how Rick Riordan describes faces in such quirky detail.

The Setting: 
Riordan still manages to keep his settings fresh yet tied to the original series. The plot takes the characters to places such as San Francisco and Detroit and even out of the USA to Quebec, which is the first time the books have gone outside the United States up to this point. I love how he fuses Greek settings with modern settings into a unique and quirky conglomeration.

Epic Things:
Where do I start? I'm a big Greek Mythology buff, so I enjoyed seeing a lot of lesser-known Greek figures highlighted and discovering many I didn't know about and those are few and far between. Also demigod powers and a freaking steampunk dragon. Nothing can beat a steampunk dragon in epicness. 

The Theme:
Trust is a big theme. Three kids that know little about each other have to learn to bond to reach their goals.

Content Cautions: This is middle grade, so any content was super mild. Perhaps some violence and peril? That's just about it. If you're bothered by magic then this isn't the book for you but I think the premise is telling enough.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

1.) Flashbacks - This book has A LOT of flashbacks. Entire chapters were dedicated to them. Many a time this can be a hindrance to a story, but I felt like this really worked for the story. In the previous chapters, the story built up with questions where only a flashback would be satisfying enough to answer them then this flashback became essential to putting together pieces for the rest of the story. None of them felt like shoe-ins or like they slowed down or stopped the story.

How this can be applied to writing:
Flashbacks can be a big no-no, but in this case they really work. If you want to see how flashbacks should be done, give this book a read.

2.) Dumb but Lovable Characters - Many characters are so dumb they make me roll my eyes, but others are so dumb you can't help but love them. This is what I felt about Cal. He couldn't say words longer than two syllables and wanted to destroy everything, but it was so funny I was chuckling to myself. Rick Riordan well-timed his lines to insert humor into a tense moment and make him humorous as opposed to annoying.

How this can be applied to writing: Have you ever wanted to write a dumb character? Many dumb characters can be some people's favorite characters such as Hei-Hei (Moana), Spike and Whitie (Flushed Away), and Kronk (The Emperor's New Groove).

2.)  Limiting Magical Items - Magical items can easily feel too convenient. They can make the characters' lives too easy and make the readers feel jipped. Leo gets a magical tool belt. By reaching into the pockets he can be pulled out almost anything. Almost. It does have its limits and if he pulls out something very big then it has to have time to cool down. This adds more tension in perilous situations when he has to choose wisely what he can take out of the tool belt.

How this can be applied to writing: Remember to not make your magical items limitless! Weaknesses can be great plot devices!

Conclusion: I loved this book and I can't wait to read the next one!

About the Author:
Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. In 2002, Saint Mary's Hall honored him with the school's first Master Teacher Award.

While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre - the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children's fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

Today over 35 million copies of his Percy Jackson, Kane Chronicles, and Heroes of Olympus books are in print in the United States, and rights have been sold into more than 35 countries. Rick is also the author of The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones, another #1 New York Times bestseller. 

Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.

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