Jason has a problem.
He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper. His best friend is a kid named Leo, and they’re all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids,” as Leo puts it. What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea – except that everything seems very wrong.
Piper has a secret.
Her father, a famous actor, 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.
Oh gods, this book. What have I gotten myself into? After The House of Hades and Nico di Angelo came out (see what I did there?) this fall, I said I’d give the series another try, having not made it past the first few chapters.
Now I’m not totally sure it was worth it. But let’s look at the good parts first.
Diversity! Diversity is good. I’m trying to read more books with minority characters, and two of The Lost Hero‘s three protagonists are Cherokee and Hispanic. I’m pretty sure the sequels have more such characters – Hazel, Frank, and Reyna? Anyway, that’s really cool. Whatever I may think about Riordan’s latest storytelling abilities, I can’t ignore that his books are more diverse than, say, the Harry Potter series.
Thalia and Annabeth! Sadly, their appearances were brief so they didn’t get to do much, but without those characters there wouldn’t be many girls in the book, and certainly not any that kicked butt. I’m looking at you, Piper.
Leo! He was by far the best part of The Lost Hero and I wish he’d narrated more than a third of the book. Leo is a son of Hephaestus, can create fire, and was the most complex protagonist in addition to being completely hilarious. I mean, just look:
The camp was overflowing with fine-looking girls. Leo didn’t quite understand the whole related-to-the-gods business, but he hoped that didn’t mean he was cousins with all these ladies. That would suck. At the very least, he wanted to check out those underwater girls in the lake again. They were definitely worth drowning for. (Page 66)
“I don’t know if she’s completely unkillable,” he said, “but she cannot be defeated by toilet seats. I can vouch for that. She wanted me to betray you guys, and I was like, ‘Pfft, right, I’m gonna listen to a face in the potty sludge.'” (Page 276)
A thousand years from now, when this quest was being told around a campfire, he figured people would talk about brave Jason, beautiful Piper, and their sidekick Flaming Valdez, who accompanied them with a bag of magic screwdrivers and occasionally fixed tofu burgers. (Page 384)
I related to Leo on so many levels, you guys. If/when I read the sequels, I will cry if he’s not a major character.
I’ll give partial credit to Riordan for including Medea, King Midas, and the Cyclopes. Although they are among my favorite characters from Greek mythology, I felt their scenes were underwhelming. I mean, seriously. Where was the gold in Midas’ palace / mansion / thing? Why did his touch either make things only gold-tinted or not affect them at all? Wouldn’t his clothes, the floor, et cetera become gold too? At least that’s how I always imagined the myth.
Aaaand I think that marks the beginning of my complaints, so let’s carry on to the bad stuff now.
Piper. Huh? She has no depth. I don’t mind that she’s girly and interested in Jason. I don’t mind that at all – not by itself. But there’s little to her character except her adoration of Jason. I don’t remember what page it was (and I’m not interested enough to flip through the book and find it as I did for Leo) but there was some quote that basically boiled down to, “Piper did [insert heroic thing here] so Jason would notice her and then they would be boyfriend and girlfriend forever and always.”
That’s right, folks. She didn’t do [insert heroic thing here] to save her friends, or because it was the right thing to do. She did it so Jason would see, despite the fact that at that part of the book I’m pretty sure Jason was smiting an earth-giant-thing with his Mega-Awesome Lightning Powers
That Bring All The Girls To The Yard and Piper was probably the last thing on his mind.
So, very disappointing. I mean, a child of Aphrodite should be cool! Being able to use your beauty and charisma to make people do whatever you wish should be much more interesting (and complex) than it was. Please go away, Piper. I can’t believe you’re one of the seven demigods of the prophecy because I really don’t want to read any more about you, and definitely not from your point of view.
And then there’s Jason. He doesn’t do anything exceptionally annoying, but that’s because he just doesn’t do anything. He’s a perfectly nice and polite young man who is also incredibly dull. He has no personality because he doesn’t even remember it. How Jason can be related to someone as intelligent and spunky
not to mention gorgeous as Thalia is beyond my comprehension.
Speaking of Jason and Thalia being related, it really bothered me how Riordan closed his plot holes by pulling things out of thin air. Jason and Thalia have the same dad, only not really? (Zeus was Latin, but it was just a phase.) There’s a version of Camp Half-Blood located across the country and it’s for Roman demigods and it was never mentioned before because… well, no real reason, really? Don’t even tell me it’s due to the Mist, Riordan. Demigods are supposed to be able to see through it. It felt like very lazy storytelling.
(I will admit, though, that I was pleased to learn why Camp Half-Blood demigods are supposed to stay away from the West Coast – it’s not so much that there are so many monsters but another group of campers live there and they fought the Greek group years ago. I liked the explanation, but I didn’t like how it was done, if that makes any sense.)
Most of The Lost Hero felt like very lazy storytelling, to be honest. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was reading a first or second draft – the book needs that much work. Characters have weak motivations, villains are two-dimensional, the dialogue sounds nothing like what “kids these days” would say. The author’s ideas weren’t bad, but he needed to revise. Majorly.
Additionally, many pages could’ve been cut. At five hundred and fifty-seven pages, The Lost Hero was bloated. I’m not saying that the Percy Jackson books were short – my copy of The Lightning Thief is just under four hundred pages – but at least the length of that series felt necessary. Something important, from an action scene to a character revelation, happened on every page.
Here, it was like Riordan was making the story long just to be impressive. But it wasn’t impressive – it was just a paperweight. If I read one more scene in which a character has a long, pointless dream and then spends several pages recounting / analyzing it with their friends, I may have to end my misery by falling on a sword.
With all that in mind, I think The Lost Hero would be most enjoyed by Riordan die-hards. Can’t get enough of Camp Half-Blood? Never take off your orange shirt? Yeah, go for this book. Otherwise, it is an utterly ordinary teen read, lacking in the humor, splendid twists on old myths, and action sequences of its predecessors.
What do you think of The Lost Hero, readers? Would you recommend that I continue reading the Heroes of Olympus series?