The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #3), by Rick Riordan
When ordering this book and a couple of others from the library, I was unaware that this book was out of sequence from the first book of the series, but that is not overall such a big problem given the way that this book can stand on its own even if it is part of an obvious series. Percy Jackson is still the same sort of rebellious but somehow successful character he was in the first novel, and a little older if not very much wiser as a result of his experiences. He finds himself baffled by the deference shown to him by various sea creatures and even seeks to defend an innocent seacow from being used by Kronos in his evil plans, and even finds himself holding the weight of the sky on his back before managing to trick Atlas back into holding it. Again, the author finds himself borrowing from the mythos of the Greeks and not doing anything particularly exciting about it, and the stakes don’t seem quite as high as the author seems to make them out to be, showing himself to be only a modestly talented writer, even unable or unwilling to give detail about how it felt for a teen to hold the weight of the atmosphere, something that should have crushed him.
This book, of about 300 pages, has a familiar feel to it. Percy is back to living at the camp for demigods, and somehow manages to finagle his way onto a quest with a mixed group of fellow campers, including one who is part of a trap and who ends up sacrificing herself for the others, and another who was one of the maidens who were supposed to guard the apples of Hera and failed in her task thanks to Hercules and who speaks with a stilted and old-fashioned accent. The quest involves traveling across the country and rescuing people, including the narrator’s love interest, and saving Olympis from the plans of the evil Kronos and his supporters, all of which is pretty familiar, even stale, by this point. For whatever reason, the narrator wants himself to be the hero of a prophecy which apparently resolves the series as a whole in the fourth volume of the series, if I get around to reading it. As far as derivative fiction goes, this is not the worst waste of time but it’s no great literature either.
Overall, though, this is not a story really worth the amount of time that one can spend wondering about the sudden hostility of Nico when he finds out that his sister is dead, or wondering why Percy the numbskull doesn’t tell any of the adult authority figures that Nico and his sister were children of Hades born before the pact between the three of them not to have any more kids. Again, as was the case previously, this book is based on a worldview that provides moral space by having flawed authorities at its peak who need, in many ways, the help and support of human beings and demigods like Percy. The series is designed to appeal to teens who feel different and don’t fit in and wonder if there is something special about them that separates them from others, the same sort of appeal that makes all kinds of teen books and YA fiction like this (and like Harry Potter and Divergent and many, many, many others like them) popular to this audience. But even though the author knows what appeals to his audience, he doesn’t have the skill to make his borrowed world all that effective or interesting to people who aren’t a part of the target demographic he is aiming at.