Series: The Heroes of Olympus #5
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 7th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.
The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps.
The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.
It’s here. The end of an era. The end of Percy Jackson. NO NO, DON’T CRY, DEBBY. Breathe. In many ways, this was a nice conclusion to the Heroes of Olympus series, but in other ways, I couldn’t help but be frustratingly disappointed. So this review will be a long one. You’ve been warned.
The Blood of Olympus is the climax of the five-book long plot, so obviously, this is where the action really picks up and those mysterious twists are finally revealed. In classic Rick Riordan fashion, it’s complimented with humor, excellent world building, and awesome, quirky secondary characters. Primarily in this one, Nike, the goddess of victory, is introduced. Many lols ensued as the demigods try to convince her that peace is also an option – and if anything, beating Gaea and her giants is more important. Blackjack also returns and steals my heart as always ♥
There are a number of POV characters in this book, but two in particular absolutely stole my heart: Nico and Reyna. The two have partnered up to bring the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood as a gesture of peace and encounter quite some obstacles along the way. Nico manages the journey by shadow traveling, but it slowly becomes a massive and dangerous drain on his energy, and Reyna proves her strength and belief in their cause in spite of broken oaths – past and present. The two gradually become good friends as they share their histories with each other, and I had some major feelings. I friendship them so hard, guys. And Nico fills me with all the feels ever. So when he got a ship(!!) at the very end, my heart rejoiced and I just wanted to skip around my room in glee. Seriously, his storyline was probably the highlight of the entire book for me.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “But Debby, what about Percy and Annabeth???” Well, that’s the problem. They aren’t POV characters in this book. In fact, they are hardly even important to the story at all – except for one element of the prophecy that could just as well have been completed by any of the other heroes. No. I cannot even begin to express my disappointment that there is no Percy or Annabeth in this, the last installment of this epic series. I knew about this beforehand though, because Rick Riordan responded to some outraged readers on Twitter with his reasoning, “There are 7 heroes – it’s never been about just Percy and Annabeth.”
Dude. Okay. I get that. But here’s the thing: there didn’t need to be 7 main characters (plus Nico and Reyna) in the first place. At the end of the day, when I’m now looking back on this series, I’m disappointed in what I believe was a calculated response to critiques that the original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series was not diverse enough. I agree, there could have been more diversity there – it was shamefully white white white. But, I don’t feel like The Heroes of Olympus was a great solution. Now, instead, we have seven main characters that are each from different ethnicities. In essence, YAY DIVERSITY, but in actuality, this didn’t feel organic at all. It’s so calculated and trying so hard to be all-inclusive that it loses its spark – especially because these characters are barely developed at all. (And let’s not get into how he describes some character as having skin the color of toasted bread, which I believe we can all agree on is a diversity no-no.)
Seven (or nine) main characters is hard to do well, because you can’t make them all equally interesting. Some personalities will sparkle more than others, so it’s extremely frustrating that Percy and Annabeth are sidelined in the last installment of the series in some effort to be like, “BUT YAY, THE DIVERSE CHARACTERS ARE EVEN BETTER,” when their personalities are so thoroughly uninteresting. Percy and Annabeth’s voices have always been more developed, more endearing, more humorous, and this book is lacking that. In fairness, Leo is for the most part a fun, interesting voice, and Nico has enough emotional depth to keep me on the edge of my seat begging for more of his storyline, but that’s about it. The imbalance between the POVs makes the pacing feel sluggish and awkward.
It frustrates me to no end that Piper gets such a big part of this book and the series as a whole. I believe if we’d go back and calculate, she’s had the most screentime of everyone. But seriously, I cannot even with the amount of hatred that I bare for Piper. Not only is her romantic obsession with Jason just asdfjkl; meh, but Rick keeps actively trying to convince us all that we should love her – that she’s not useless despite being Aphrodite’s offspring. She gets powers whenever the plot requires it that supposedly make her an awesome asset to the team. In this book, out of nowhere, she gets magical singing power. MAGICAL. SINGING. POWERS. I shit you not. And to top off all of her ridiculousness, ANNABETH STARTS TAKING ADVICE FROM HER. Okay. The daughter. Of the goddess of wisdom. Is taking advice from Piper. In the first instance, I could kind of understand it – they were in a battle where tactical strategies could be read easily, so they followed Piper’s gut instincts instead and won. But after that, any time the team was facing a decision, Annabeth would look to Piper for help. SO FUCKING RIDICULOUS. SO MUCH RAGE. UGHHHHHHHHHHHH.
But to really highlight just how unnecessary it was to have seven/nine main characters: in this book in particular, but I believe in the previous installments as well, whenever there’s been a mini-quest inside the main quest, they’ve split up into teams of two or three. I suppose it would have been hard to cover all seven of them in one small scene – not to mention it may be inefficient or whatever – but it just makes the whole set up of the series feel so pointless. One team of three could probably have done just fine – then one or two extra characters could come in for the Athena Parthenos thing and there would have been more room to really make each POV character jump off the page instead of being boring stand-ins in an effort to be all-inclusive. This just does none of the characters justice.
BUT. All hope is not lost. Look, I still liked the story because of the world building and the classic adventure fantasy aspects. The battles at the end of the book were INTENSE. Seriously, the last 50 pages pretty much saved the book for me, although after that the ending is extremely cliché and predictable. View Spoiler »SOMEONE should have died, though it shouldn’t have been Leo because he’s one of the only tolerable characters. So I guess I was okay with that but… ugh. Was it too much to ask for Piper to DIE??!??! And Jason? Both of them. A Romeo and Juliet ending would have been excellent. (Though I didn’t even actively dislike Jason in this book, I still found him boring.) « Hide Spoiler But it’s a happy ending on many different fronts, so… there’s that.
Summing Up:It might look like a rage fest, but I still liked The Blood of Olympus. I just have so many issues with this series as a whole. While I appreciate the attempt at a diverse, all-inclusive series, it failed largely in the execution. There were too many characters to be used and developed effectively, creating a massive imbalance in pacing and in my response as a reader. And to put Percy and Annabeth in this story and then NOT use them? That should be punishable by law.
It feels like Rick Riordan wrote himself into a corner. He had to make each character seem all powerful and equally important and interesting so as not to offend any of the minorities he was portraying. It’s not convincing, it’s hardly endearing, and it is a drain on my enthusiasm. To be clear: I’m all for diversity. But I want it to be done well – for those characters to stand out and be well-developed. It should not be a gimmick, and great plot, pacing, and characters should not be sacrificed for it.
At least I’ll always have my Nico feels.