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09 October 2013 @ 07:27 am
My review of "The House of Hades" by Rick Riordan  
Short version: Good, if slightly rushed.

I'll start off with the bad, since there are only a couple of criticisms. I've seen some comments that criticized Riordan for using all 7 POVs. But frankly, I think that that wasn't his big mistake. I think the big mistake was not making The House of Hades significantly longer. The reason is that unlike every prior book in the Heroes of Olympus series, as well as those in the Percy Jackson series and The Kane Chronicles, this book had two major, separate plot threads. I would have written it that way. The parts set in the mortal world should have been as long as The Mark of Athena. In fact, I think it might have worked well if Riordan had clumped all of Percy and Annabeth's chapters together, probably near the very end. The vision of Reyna and Octavian meeting with Rachel and Grover would have had even more impact that way, and there would be tension as we waited for any information. Then we'd get the Percy/Annabeth stuff all at once, and I don't think anyone would have minded. Of course, this might have taken longer to write, which might be why he didn't do it. Frankly, I'd have preferred another couple of months of waiting if it meant a much better book. On reflection, I don't think the book would have been much improved by removing any POVs.

That said, while the structure of the book is rushed, the individual bits are still very good. While all of the seven got POVs, the parts set in the mortal world did focus more on the Romans than the Greeks, as they should have after The Mark of Athena being so Greek-centered. Hazel got a totally unexpected subplot with Hecate that was very intriguing. Frank stepping up to the plate and leading the legion of the dead against the monsters was probably the single most awesome thing in the entire book. And Jason actually got a good friendship subplot with Nico, which I very much liked. Piper only got the one POV section, but she did defeat a GODDESS, so extra points there. And Leo... well, I figured that Leo would eventually fall for Calypso after he arrived on her island (and her for him), but when he swore on the Styx to come back for her, it still warmed my heart. Not only is Leo not alone, but neither is Calypso.

The Percy/Annabeth stuff in the Styx was good. Riordan did an awesome job of showing just how dangerous that place is. Even as powerful as they are, Annabeth and Percy only got through with the aid of a Titan and a giant, and they mostly did it through running and hiding rather than plowing through a pack of monsters. And on top of that, we got lots more little Percabeth moments. I do think Riordan could have done a little more with Tartarus. For instance, he could have made use of the whole "time working differently" and had Percy and Annabeth spend weeks or even months in Tartarus. Of course, at that point, he might as well have written two books, one set in the mortal world and one set in Tartarus.

Now I predict that the number one point of discussion about this book will be the revelation of Nico's sexuality. I did not see that coming. And in retrospect, I think Riordan may have actually planned this one from the beginning. Nico's actions in The Titan's Curse and The Battle of the Labyrinth make plenty sense if he started off with a crush on Percy, only to find out that his sister had died, and therefore turn against the guy he had feelings for.

One minor point is that Riordan has more or less stated that after this is all over, Percy and Annabeth will stay at Camp Jupiter, while Jason and Piper will stay at Camp Half-Blood. He hinted at it in The Mark of Athena, but now it's pretty explicit with Jason stepping down as praetor and Percy and Annabeth planning for a date in New Rome. There have long been hints that Riordan will be doing a mega-crossover series in the future involving both Greco-Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology. If so, I predict that at the start of the crossover series, Percy and Annabeth will be attending college in New Rome. Annabeth will have joined the 12th Legion.

In conclusion, I very much enjoyed this one, even if it had several flaws. And for once, Riordan didn't end on a massive cliffhanger, which makes waiting for The Blood of Olympus that much easier.