Monday, February 3, 2014

February 2014 Book Review: The House of Hades


By Rick Riordan

~Book Review~


Warning! Major spoilers for The House of Hades and earlier Percy Jackson/Harry Potter books!

*CHEST SWELLING with extreme happiness*

Everyone knew not to approach me while I spent several blissful hours devouring The House of Hades. My faves Percy and Annabeth fighting and out-witting their way through the pit of ultimate darkness, Tartarus? Check. Hazel coming into her own as an independent heroine and Frank overcoming his securities to become a badass? Double check. I loved those two as much as the endearing Leo, who finally gets a serious love interest in this book. It’s not who you’d expect. But Riordan had convinced me within pages that yes, I am on board *grins*.

Jason and Piper are still hanging around, and although Jason impressed me with his maturity in this book and his brotherly relationship with Nico grows, Piper is still just kinda “there.” Ah well, six out of seven demi-gods hitting the mark is pretty damn good.

Even more than Percy, Nico has always been that “I heart you” character for me—he’s the type who has had such a depressing life, even for a son of Death, that you just want to gather him up and give him a big hug (of course, he’d probably shove you off with a clever sarcastic response). His sister Bianca’s death was one of the most touching moments in the earlier Percy Jackson books. That being said, I loved how Riordan broached the topic of Nico’s sexuality and revealed that for something so simple as liking another boy, the politics and implications of embodying such an identity in a hetero-normative society are complicated. He gently asks us to consider why things are that way. Again, really appreciated Jason’s response and support. Popular author JK Rowling implied that Albus Dumbledore was gay in the 6th and 7th books of the Harry Potter series, but only confirmed it after the series ended in an interview. Here, Riordan is acknowledging that “Hey! Gay people exist!” during, which is fantastic to create a multi-layered fantasy world diverse in racial and sexual identities to which many more readers can relate to and join the conversation. Parents reading to younger readers can have a gateway to discussing the topic with their child, instead of living in fear of slippery slopes.

Since I’m kinda a huge “underworld” fan, I really enjoyed Percy and Annabeth’s journey through Tartarus and the monsters—some old faces, some new—that they encounter along the way. Riordan proves all over again that he is the master of suspense, because in the face of all the odds against our young heroes, you’ve really gotta wonder if they’re getting out of there or not. Percy in particular questions some of his “heroic” acts in the past after encountering old enemies post-destruction, and I enjoyed the “world is gray” viewpoint he comes away with.

For those who lit the torches after the last book’s cliffhanger, rest assured that The House of Hades ends in a resolute place—perhaps we’ll be less impatient for the last book in the series, The Blood of Olympus, because it’ll be time to say goodbye for a little while to the rich Greek/Roman-inspired mythological world we’ve come to know and love so well *sniffs*. Highly recommended.

Recommended for fans of: JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins

Upcoming February Book Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

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