Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

We Can Be Heroes, Forever and Ever

Mandy W. heads back to Camp Half-Blood with The Lost Hero, Book 1 of Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus series.

We Can Be Heroes, Forever and Ever

BOOK REPORT for The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus Book 1) by Rick Riordan

Cover Story: Epic
BFF Charm: Yay, Eventually, and Heck Yes!
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Straight Up Alternating Omniscient
Bonus Factors: Mythology, Diversity, Loyal Pet
Relationship Status: Keeping It Fresh

Cover Story: Epic

Awww shizz -- Rick Riordan and the Camp Half-Blood demigods are back! And of course, so is illustrator John Rocco! I loooooved his covers for Percy Jackson & the Olympians, but he's stepped his game up even more for the encore. Rocco's artistry is really on display with the intricacy he pours into these covers.

Along with one of my absolute fave parts of this book (FESTUS!!), this cover depicts our three new heroes -- who, with the exception of Leo, seem far too chillaxed. But it's Rick Riordan and John Rocco and demigods et un château québécois and A FREAKIN' BRONZE DRAGON! Of course I'm in.

The Deal:

While this book report has no spoilers for the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, the book itself contains appearances by existing characters in the Camp Half-Blood universe, and the two series feature common mythology and locations. Technically, since this series starts by following three new characters, you can read The Lost Hero without having read the first series. But if you're interested in this book, I have no idea why you wouldn't read The Olympians too. Anyway.

Jason has just woken up on a school bus en route to the Grand Canyon. Which would be a pretty cool deal, since that shizz is spectacular. Except Jason has no idea who anyone on the bus is. Not even Piper or Leo, who are supposed to be his girlfriend and best friend. In fact, Jason doesn't even know who he is. But he doesn't have time to worry about that now -- he and his 'friends' are being attacked by some super strange creatures. And then a flying chariot (!?) arrives to take them all to a place called Camp Half-Blood . . .

Anddddd THAT'S IT. That's all you get! The official blurb is way more detailed, but srsly -- the less you know, the better. (Well, other than reading Percy Jackson & the Olympians beforehand. You really should do that first. In any case, do not skip the books for the movie. That helps nothing but to bring tears to Argus' hundred eyes.)

BFF Charm: Yay, Eventually, and Heck Yes!

Given the relationship dynamics of this new trio of heroes, it's not surprising that I had initial fears of them being Percy/Annabeth/Grover: The Next Generation. While there are definite similarities, those worries subsided BUT FAST.

Jason's totally tabula rasa, so I'm taking a page out of the Backstreet Boys' playbook and not caring about who he was, where he's from, or what he did. Nowadays, he's a bit solemn and serious -- but I mean, the guy has forgotten about everything in his life, and he's just discovered that he's a demigod. Not to say Jason doesn't have a lighter side, too. But he's far more calm, cool, and collected than any fifteen-year-old in his sitch should be (in a good way). Jason's a natural leader, and I'd follow him into battle any day.*

*Note to Jason: I'd be really useless in battle (plus: it'd be scary), so please don't take me up on my offer.

Piper took some time to grow on me. There are a lot of things to like about her: she's smart, she's brave, and she stands up against bullies. She can be strong willed to the point of stubborness; while not exactly an admirable trait, I can def. empathize. But she doesn't start off with a lot of confidence, and oy with the poodles already -- I got so tired of her insecurities re: Jason. And then I remember that she's fifteen and has a loooooot on her plate, so I should cut her some slack. Esp. since Piper recognizes her cool self before I needed to stage a One Direction intervention letting her know what makes her beautiful.

Oh Leo! I thought about adopting him (even though he does have a parent, although an absentee godly one), but he's managed to take care of himself for half his life already. Anyway, Leo uses humour to dull the pain of his past, but he also knows when to reign it in. His natural inclination for tools and machinery (his mom was a mechanical engineer!) is responsible for FESTUS!, for which I will be forever grateful. And bless his little heart, Leo's afflicted with the Joel-from-Eternal-Sunshine syndrome (i.e. "Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?").* Leo sometimes worries about how he doesn't really fit in with his demigod siblings or how he doesn't measure up to his fellow questers. He def. could use some good friends; while he's already got them in Piper and Jason, I too volunteer as tribute!

(And to maintain this boy band theme that I'm apparently cultivating: apropos to nothing, here's some 'N Sync!)

*I feel slightly hypocritical that I found Leo's relationship woes endearing but Piper's annoying. Although his is more of a general malaise and not tethered to one person, whereas hers is more of a "You met him Sunday; it's barely Monday" deal.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

As previously alluded to, these youngsters are riddled with hormones. While Leo falls hopelessly in love with every girl he meets, Piper and Jason navigate a tricky relationship -- in that she's clinging onto a past that doesn't exist for him. Moving forward, there's an undeniable mutual attraction between them. But they know how to prioritize -- quest in progress, imminent danger -- so the swoon never escalates beyond a slow burn.

Howevs, there's also a minor storyline that involves a character going to great lengths for love. (Although maybe that registers more on the heartbreak scale instead.)

Talky Talk: Straight Up Alternating Omniscient

Consistently written in third person, the narration alternates between the perspectives of our three heroes. Not only does that give Riordan greater license to delve deeper into his characters, but we also get a girl's viewpoint for the first time!

As always, Riordan delivers an exciting blend of mythology, adventure, and humour. He includes a few pop culture digs, and omg Rick Riordan is the Oracle of Delphi because he also turns out to be a bit prophetic. Or he's just aware of Hollywood's propensity for reusing stories (OH HAI Sea of Monsters adaptation coming out next month!).

Bonus Factor: Mythology

Like this could never not be a bonus factor! While my devotion has yet to rival that of Alix's for all things Pride and Prejudice and Austentatious*, I still can't get enough of mythology. And this time around, there's quite the game changer. This shake-up sets the course for what's sure to be (and already is) a thrilling new series.

*Though to be fair, I don't think ANYONE could surpass the level of dedication she has for P&P. I mean, mouth plundering, y'all.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

There were small doses of racial diversity in Percy Jackson & the Olympians, but it gets promoted to the forefront in The Lost Hero. Leo's Latino ancestry has always been a part of his identity, to no known strife. Piper's dad is Cherokee, and his own unease with his heritage has been passed down to his daughter. What I love most about these depictions is how they're completely different but both still entirely realistic.

Bonus Factor: Loyal Pet

A bronze dragon automation gone haywire, Festus is quite simply -- oh, I'm going there -- THE BESTEST. Festus is tamed, repaired, and tricked out by Leo, with whom he develops a strangely sweet bond.

Casting Call:

Freddie Stroma as Jason

Where are all the blond, non-bland young male actors? The only ones I could think of (e.g. Austin Butler, Ansel Elgort), I can't really picture in this role with my existing dream cast. And since I can't cast Gabriel Landeskog or Ryan Gosling as the teenage son of a Greek god, I'll go with a reliable FYA fave.

Devery Jacobs as Piper

I've never seen this girl act, and she isn't Cherokee (she's Mohawk), but she's age-appropriate and v. v. pretty. Hopefully she can pull off the paradox of toughness and vulnerability that is Piper.

Jake T. Austin as Leo

This is also a distant approximation, since I actually imagined someone like a Latino Sam Weir: sometimes awkward and misguided, but ultimately a sweetheart.

Danny DeVito as Coach Hedge

Of this casting, however, I have no doubt.

Relationship Status: Keeping It Fresh

I've been with the Camp Half-Blood books for a while now, so you'd think that I knew all its stories by this point. NOT EVEN CLOSE. This book kept me on my toes and definitely left me wanting more. (And there's so, so, SO much more to come. TRUST.)

FTC Full Disclosure: I originally received my review copy from the library, but then I bought a copy for myself anyway, meaning I went traipsing in the children's section FOR NOTHING. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). The Lost Hero is available now.

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.