Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters – Rick Riordan
Percy’s eagerly anticipated return to Camp Half-Blood comes sooner than expected when Annabeth suddenly appears at his school to help him and his new friend Tyson evade an onslaught of monster attacks. The trio barely manages to make it to camp, only to find that the camp can no longer guarantee solace to the demigod kids who live there because someone has poisoned Thalia’s Oak, the special tree at the top of the hill that enforces the magical boundaries of the camp. Meanwhile, Percy has strange and persistent dreams that his old friend, Grover, is in trouble. Percy relays the cryptic messages from Grover to Annabeth, who realizes that Grover is trapped on an island in the Sea of Monsters with the Golden Fleece and the fierce Cyclops that claim ownership over it. New camp leadership authorizes Clarisse, a long-time foe, to set out on a Quest for the Golden Fleece, but the trio knows that Clarisse alone will not be enough to save Grover, the Golden Fleece, and Camp Half-Blood. At the risk of being expelled from camp for life, the three journey out to sea with hopes of saving their friends, the Fleece, and the future of Camp Half-Blood.
“The Sea of Monsters” is the second book in the Olympian series by Rick Riordan, and an excellent follow-up to the first book. Riordan builds the complexity of Percy’s family relationships when he introduces Tyson as Percy’s half brother, and one that Percy struggles to accept. His portrayal of Percy as an adolescent boy that stands up against bullies for a friend in need lays the foundation for a humble role model. Percy proves himself deserving of this title as he recognizes the hypocrisy of being embarrassed by Tyson and actively works to overcome this embarrassment. In his storyline, Riordan continues to intertwine the classic with the modern and explains anomalies like the Bermuda triangle with updated Greek mythology. “The Sea of Monsters” offers a pop culture spin on “The Odyssey,” resulting in a narrative that is both familiar and relatable. The way Riordan mixes classic and modern brings a sense of whimsical fantasy to the story, and makes for compelling, accessible, and plain old fun reading.
My thoughts on this novel are pretty much the same as the first novel. The action moves so quickly that I feel like Riordan doesn’t provide sufficient time for substantial character or plot development between adventures. But I appreciate the compassion Riordan imbues his characters with, and I very much enjoy the wry humor involved with updating Greek mythology. And I obviously found the storyline compelling enough that I went back to the library and immediately picked up and read the second novel in the series (and also compelling enough that I stayed up past my bedtime so I could read the last 5 chapters in one sitting). Certainly worth the read.