The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan The Sea of Monsters in the second book in the Percy Jackson series and despite it's less than spectacular start, I'm pleased to say I enjoyed it just as much as the first one. Usually, I tend to find the second book in a series somewhat of a letdown. In a trilogy it's to be expected since it's the middle book but even in longer series I've always been somewhat letdown by the second offering in a series. Often the novelty of the first book has worn of, but the story hasn't gotten into it's stride yet. To be perfectly honest, I was a little worried when I started The Sea of Monsters that it would indeed fit into my experience with second books; especially considering it was a book that would take place largely at sea. Now don't get me wrong, I love sea/sailing adventures and most of what goes with it (pirates, water, exploring, treasure) but I feel they can get bogged down with too many 'ship technicality' details. Either that or the actual sailing bits get too drawn out and become boring. I mean if a ship crew is at sea for months on end as can often be the case, there's only so many entertaining things that can happen. So yeah for a second book dealing with an 'at-sea' adventure 'The Sea of Monsters' was surprisingly enjoyable overall.

Like I mentioned, the beginning of this book wasn't all that great. There were quite a few unfavorable changes to Camp Half-Blood. Some unlikable new characters were added(ahem, Tantalus anyone), and some old favorites were missing Grover and Chiron, two of my favorites from book 1. All this combined to the issue with Thalia's tree set a much darker tone early on for this book. However, as soon as our hero's set off on their quest, things instantly picked up. The sea voyage bits were very well done, never dragging or boring. Percy's gifts or powers become more developed and detailed especially considering he's the sea god's son and they were at sea. The adventure was well balanced, offering a healthy mix of earth-bound intrigue mixed into this ocean adventure. However, the ocean bits really stood out for me; a fresh take on an oft-formulaic setting. The Hippocampi were enjoyable and quite unique; definitely not your run of the mill mythological creature. I thought the part with the Sirens was intense and chilling as was the bit about the 'one mortal flaw'. I did wonder what Percy's mortal flaw will end up being though my best guess is that it will draw on the already numerous similarities between him and Mr. Potter...come on, green eyes, dark messy hair, hero see it too!

All joking aside, I do have some issue with lack of originality where Percy is concerned. Too often he comes of as a replica or imitation hero. Aside from his dry wit and the very specific type of power he wields, everything else brings of up feelings of deja-vu for me. However, among the slew of 'lesser-Potters' as I like to refer to them, Percy is still easy to like. His humor, and especially his inner-dialogue are quite enjoyable. Annabeth was a lot easier to like this time around; though as was the case with Percy and the rest, I felt the character development somewhat lacking... especially for a second installment. I hope it gets rectified as the series continues. I'm also hoping for a lot more Grover from here on out; I love that little guy!

Everything else pretty much unfolds similarly to book 1. The narration is straight forward and simple; nothing lyrical or poetic in the writing style or tone. Some of the plot twists were set up almost mirroring twists in the first book. As in the minute the twist started I could see it was a trap cause it had happened that way in book 1. Again the originality wasn't there; not enough to keep me fully invested. Overall it was still a entertaining read. I look forward to seeing where Rick Riordan will take the series in the next books and how the events set up in book 1 & 2 will unfold down the line.

PS- I wonder if I'll ever review a children's/YA book without referencing Harry Potter or J.K.Rowling in some way? My guess is, probably not!