Book Review: Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan**
Recommended to: Kids, Adults/Older Teens that like YA
In MoA, the third book the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, the seven selected heroes venture to Rome, where they hope to defeat the evil Gaea in her attempts to bring down the gods and everyone with them. They encounter several obstacles including monsters, unhelpful gods, monsters, Romans, and even more monsters that slow their progress on the Argo II.
Did I mention monsters? Furthermore, their clashing loyalties and beliefs constantly create rifts and conflict within the group, especially for Annabeth, whose mother Athena didn't turn out to be well-loved in Roman form.
Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed the first two books in this new series; I thought they were funny (as Rick has a talent for), light-hearted, entertaining, interesting, and full of lovable characters. Unfortunately, MoA lacked many, if not all of these aspects.
For starters, it just wasn't very humorous. There were a lot of points where it seemed like Riordan was trying very, very hard to insert some of that kid-humor that can make just about anyone crack a smile, but it all seemed to fall flat. I can remember exactly once instance where I laughed out loud (and by that I mean a hard exhale through the nose), whereas in the other books, I usually have quite a few of those moments.
I also really had a hard time with the characters. I've always felt like Riordan has had problems giving his narrators distinct voices (not that that's such a huge issue in a YA novel), but in this particular book especially, it seemed like a more noticeable struggle. Furthermore, I found myself not caring about most of the narrators, or even just the characters in general. Characters that didn't have their own chapters, such as Frank, Hazel, and Jason just didn't matter to me. In fact, all of them drove me a little nuts. Piper annoyed the living daylights out of me with her incessant focus on Jason throughout her chapters, and Leo made me feel nothing but indifference. I enjoyed Percy and Annabeth's chapters, but I suspect that's probably just due to my affection for them leftover from the Percy Jackson Series. Although, I did have some major beef with their love story...just stop trying to go in depth with them Rick, you suck at it!
In general, the story lacked any truly interesting factors, which is probably the greatest problem the book has. I kept catching myself skimming through pages to try to find something that actually mattered, or had any exciting action. While there are a few good, action scenes, most of the story just feels boring and uninteresting. And you know what else? It makes me sad to say it, but I just wanted it to end. Not just the book, the whole series. But no, even though midway through, it seems like Rick could possibly give us a tidy ending, he drags it out. Hopefully in the next book, he delivers not only a better story-line, but the much needed ending. I can't handle anymore disappointments.
Not that the book was all negatives. As always, Riordan delivered on his Greek and Roman mythology. If you really know your stuff about mythology, it will probably entertain you to see his twistings and interpretations, or drive you nuts, but if you're pretty ignorant of it like me, you'll enjoy learning a little bit more about it. I found his mentions of how the Greek and Roman gods/goddesses differed to be especially interesting, as well as the gods that didn't quite translate to both sides.
Riordan finally brings some things full circle for us, too, such as just how Leo and Hazel are connected, why The Doors of Death were opened, and what this even means. If you're like me, this will all be a huge relief for you because I know that I found the Leo/Hazel aspect to be absolutely baffling.
Finally, Rick managed to maintain that special little something that makes these books readable and accessible to a variety of age groups. Though it's definitely weaker, it's still present.
Overall, it was really just okay. I would recommend that any fans of this series whether they be kids, teens, or adults to walk into this with lowered expectations, and they might enjoy it more.
He also maintained that special little something that makes these books readable and accessible to a variety of age groups, though it's definitely weaker, but still present.
**I finished MoA about a week ago, but I still remembered enough of the details to write this review. It's probably better that I wrote this now since it would have been heavily layered with my disappointment had I written it immediately, which may tell you more about this book than the entire review did.