Series: The Trials of Apollo #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 3rd, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology
How do you punish an immortal?
By making him human.
After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.
But Apollo has many enemies - gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.
Even I, by now, am wondering if Uncle Rick is just milking it. I mean, to start up yet another series in the same universe is pretty damning. But at the same time, I love Greek mythology and the possibility of getting glimpses of Percy too much to resist. The Hidden Oracle is fun but still a bit basic.
Apollo has been exiled to Earth by Zeus, forced into the form of a chubby, ginger teenage boy with lots and lots of zits. Now, that’s not exactly something he’s used to. Usually, in this kind of situation (because, yes, it has happened before), he has to serve or help a demigod, thereby showing he has learned to think beyond what he wants for himself.
What is already a huge improvement over some other of Riordan’s recent works is that this one actually has a strong voice. That’s not exactly hard, because Apollo inherently has this kind of arrogance and a truly self-centered nature. But his voice jumps off the page, and amazingly it never gets to be too much – too annoying or irritating. He’s flawed, but that’s abundantly clear. And he also ever so slightly grows over the course of the story.
Cameos galore! Already in the first chapter, you get a mention of Percy that made me jump and wonder if Apollo would serve HIM for this series, because that would be AMAZING. But no, he actually gets a new character as his sidekick – Meg. But Percy shows up just slightly after that. And he is adorably cool, trying so hard not to get involved this time because ANNABETH WOULD KILL HIM. And yes, feels. You also get plenty of Will and Nico, Leo, Rachel Dare, and various other campers at Camp Half-Blood.
Yes. Will and Nico are here and they are obviously a thing. They are a truly excellent ship – very sweet, caring, funny, and understanding. But I still have mixed feelings about it, because Riordan almost gets preachy about it in his narrations. Apollo frankly argues too long about how Will and Nico being a thing is just fine, and we shouldn’t think twice about it, and in fact he’s been with men before, because he falls for the soul more than the person, and in fact he’s almost pansexual and can switch genders at will, like basically all the Greek gods are with their weird mating rituals – that even include the fact that a male god can give birth. Like… It’s just too preachy to me… or self-congratulatory. I like diversity when it’s included and nobody thinks twice about it or feels the need to argue that it’s okay, because of course it’s okay. There’s no earthly reason why it wouldn’t be okay. But that might just be a deeply personal preference, and it only came up a couple times in the book.
The plot is more or less what you’d expect from Rick Riordan. It’s a classic kind of adventure story with mishaps and comedy, magic and mystery. However, the pacing wasn’t entirely compelling because Apollo was clueless as to what he was supposed to do for most of the book, and therefore I have yet to really get a sense of where this series is going. When I was close to the end of the book, I had yet to feel a true peak in the story – some kind of suspense. Actually, probably the most “intriguing” part of the story was a betrayal that I basically called from the start. So there’s still some work to do as far as the story goes.