Friday, August 5, 2016

The House of Hades

I started buying Rick Riordan's books with the intention of using them to read to my son, who was 5 yrs old at the time. My "plan" was to show him just how much fun reading (or having a book read to you) is & how a good book could capture your mind.
It worked. We stated with the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, quickly moved on to The Kane Chronicles & by the time the Lost Heroes of Olympus series was starting my son, now 8, reads them himself. As a child diagnosed with ADHD at age 5, my son loved that all the demigods had ADHD & the reasoning/explanations that came with it.
Normally, as a bibliophile I am 1 of "those people" who has the next installment in a book series in my hands the day it comes out. My work schedule has been hectic so the release date of The House of Hades came & went without my notice.....UNTIL I was wandering through a store & there it was on the shelf. I bought it immediately, all the while kicking myself that I'd forgotten. See, I started buying them for my son, but I quickly came to adore the books as much as him, reading them in quick succession.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS In my opinion, Riordan has done it AGAIN. I gotta tell you, this man is BRILLIANT. I'm always blown away by the fluid nature of his writing, the way Riordan seemingly has endless ideas that pour forth in his books. As a reader, just when you start to think, "there's not really anywhere else he can go", BAM, he pulls a new & terrific storyline out of his hat. Impossibly, it's always more exciting than the last.
I've read on a few blogs & book boards that the next installment in The Lost Heroes of Olympus may be the final tome in the adventures of Percy & friends. If this is true, I'll be deeply saddened & will miss Percy & his cohorts deeply, as will my son. But like J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, there comes a point where story lines, even those with beloved characters, must come to a close. Should the 5th book in TLHO series be the final one, I'll be sad, but Percy & his friends have had an epic run, I'm just glad I was able to share in it.
The House of Hades picks up where The Mark of Athena left off, you have Percy & Annabeth endlessly falling (at least to them, it feels that way) to Tartarus. The rest of the crew Leo, Piper, Jason, Frank, Hazel, Nico & Coach Hodge are left to stop the the Greek/Roman war between the camps AND reach the Doors of Death in the Mortal world, helping to rescue Percy & Annabeth while closing the Doors of Death to Gaea forces.
As usual the POV is switched up between characters, with Nico being the only 1 to not have a POV chapter. Sure, Nico is featured many times in others POV, but never his own. We get to know Hazel quite a bit more this time around, learning exactly how important her presence IS to this mission. As not only a child of Pluto/Hades, she also is strongly connected to Hecate & can influence the Mist & magic.
Piper shines in this book as well, this time around she's no longer a "damsel in distress" but a young lady learning her way in the world, seeing her value as a fighter & asset to the quest & not just another pretty face. I'd say that this installment really shows off some girl power, developing Hazel & Piper beautifully. This time the girls don't need rescuing, they're saving themselves, as well as the boys.
Frank finally comes into his own here too. No longer a chubby, awkward kid who can turn into various animals, Frank embraces his true power & transform into his true self. Thus results in a stronger, more certain Frank, a leader, not a follower. Frank also experiences a physical transformation as well, almost like he went through puberty to older teenager in an instant. This occurrence really helps Frank to be more confident & embrace his heritage as a child of Ares.
Leo grows up as well, finally meeting a girl to take his mind off the unattainable Hazel when he's catapulted to Ogygia by Khione & meets Calypso. At first Calypso isn't impressed & due to a magical "defect", the island won't provide a raft to take Leo away from the island. What results is Calypso learning to care for Leo as he falls for her, ending in a raft taking Leo away from Calypso with Leo swearing on the River Styx he will come back to get her, even though according to Calypso, no man finds Ogygia twice. The end result is a more mature, heartsick Leo, still a joker, but obviously more grounded. His focus removed from Hazel, Leo & Frank actually become friends after this.
Jason, well, I feel I know his character the LEAST of all. He has POV chapters & the most impact filled scenes with Nico, but other than that? All I can tell you is that Jason chooses the Greek side, away from his Roman roots, changing his role in a key battle at the end. He's Pipers boyfriend. Other than that, don't really understand his character. I wish he was written in a way that I'd connect to him better.
Percy & Annabeth, oh I LOVE THEM. During their shifting POV monologues, the majority of the time they are struggling together to survive Tartarus to find the Doors of Death. Instead of the headstrong, always has fight in him Percy & the calm, can talk/think her way out of anything Annabeth, we see a much more reserved duo. Several times you think they might be ready to give up, but they always pull it out, in many cases, the nick of time. With the help of former foes, Percy & Annabeth are able to keep fighting to their goal.
Coach Hodge, I really like this over the top saytr. While he doesn't have a POV chapter & is still in the background, he adds much comedy relief to his appearances. We definitely learn more about Coach Hodge & that NO, fighting is not the only thing in the world to him. Something (someone) else means more. !!!!!!!BIG FREAKING DEFINITE SPOILERS!!!!!!! Nico, oh my poor misunderstood Nico. This next part of my review is a BIG hot button topic, one plenty of parents were very upset about. In previous books, we thought Nico was so standoffish to Percy/Annabeth BECAUSE Nico liked Annabeth & was jealous of Percy. Nope. We were wrong. Now flip that. In a POV of Jason Grace, Nico accompanies him to retrieve a scepter & they end up having to see Cupid to get that scepter. A god Nico is terribly afraid of. Because Nico has a crush/thing/love for PERCY. One he has to admit to Cupid, in front of Jason Grace.
Yep, Nico is GAY. Personally, this isn't a deal breaker for me. I have no intention of boycotting or burning my Riordan books. I will still recommend them to friends w/ children my sons age or younger. I think people are getting out of hand being so upset about this. There isn't a graphic fantasy love scene, just the reveal. Many parents are complaining because they have 5, 6, 7 year olds reading the books & didn't want to have "that" conversation yet, b/c at 10, the age Nico developed the crush, parents are saying it's not possible to "know" if you're gay. I can't answer that, but I do know that many studies have shown that it's an inborn thing in the brain. You don't choose it, you just are or aren't. It's just a part of the persons being. As to explaining to your younger kids? I had that conversation when my son started kindergarten. Only because these days, kids are discovering things earlier & I'd rather my son know the truth, not some horribly incorrect version a friend tells him. Because they do THAT TOO. I didn't go into huge detail, but I did explain the difference between hetero & gay. I also asked him what mattered most, the type of person you want to date or the type of person that you ARE. I have several gay friends & they are some of the loveliest people I've ever known. I asked my son, "isn't that more important, that they're good, kind, loving people"? Doesn't that mean more than who they choose to love? He totally agreed & understood the concept, at 6 years old. Parents, you don't have to get into gory details/explanations to make a point or explain something. Simple is best.
You could also use your common sense & think, Percy's adventures have been getting darker as he gets older. The kids who started with the first series are in their teens now so heavier subject matter is to be expected. Plus the reading age is 10+ in the description.
I don't think Riordan is "jumping on the bandwagon", I think he's representing a sampling from all backgrounds. You have Caucasian, African-American, American-Indian, Asian-American, Latino, it's covered. Making Nico gay wasn't to be risqué, it was completing the tapestry of diversity Riordan is so accomplished at creating. I applaud him for it, my hat is off to you sir.
Parents- you need to remember that your children learn SO MUCH from YOU. Most importantly, TOLERANCE. Then understanding. If your afraid of this reveal of a story character being gay, you're telling your children that your afraid of gay people. A group that's done nothing to you. Your teaching your children to be afraid of it, to be un-accepting of it, to have no TOLERANCE or UNDERSTANDING. Not just of gay people either, this lesson could extend so much farther & deeper than you imagine. So don't teach it. Explain to your kids in a short, concise, matter of fact way what being gay IS & leave it at that. Don't teach them it's okay to be afraid of it or to shun people who are. That wrong on so many levels. Besides, wouldn't you rather your kids learn important things like this from YOU? All in all I LOVED THIS BOOK

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