Monday, May 31, 2010
"The Battle of the Labyrinth" by Rick Riordan
Musings: The Battle of the Labyrinth is the fourth book in the Percy Jackson series. It's also the first book of the series I listened to on audio book rather than read, so I think my experience with the novel is inextricably tied up to the method by which I took it in. As I've mentioned earlier, I listen to my audio books in bits and spurts while doing chores or cooking. For this reason, I've chosen simpler MG/YA books to listen to on audio. But while the Percy Jackson books are simple enough when reading them, I found it hard to keep track of the monsters and different stops on the quests when I was only listening to short excerpts at a time (and reading other books in between). For in The Battle of the Labyrinth particularly, there isn't much plot. Percy and his friends face many stops on their quests and battle many enemies, but little actually happens in terms of the overarching story line. I was never able to really get into the story.
This doesn't mean that there isn't fun along the way, but not a lot felt new. Percy and Annabeth's relationship has really reached the "just get it over with!" breaking point and Grover's search for Pan results in an environmental message that, while admirable, has been way overdone.
There is an interesting stop with Calypso, who Riordan has altered from the seductress nymph of the Odyssey to a sweet, innocent, and lonely teenage girl. But I found Calypso's characterization more interesting than the stop itself, which didn't seem to have much effect on the plot.
Jesse Bernstein narrates the version of the book I listened to, and while he has a boyish tone that seems appropriate for Percy, he also has the annoying habit of making almost all of Percy's (and occasionally Annabeth's) statements into questions? So that Percy seems perpetually unsure? And a bit ditzy? Which can get annoying really quickly? He also pronounces Hera as "Hee-ra" (I've always pronounced it "Hair-a" and Merriam-Webster says "Hear-a" is also acceptable, but no "Hee-ra"), which kinda annoyed me.
I think this is a series that perhaps was extended into more books than was necessary, but it will be nice to have a final conclusion with the fifth book, The Last Olympian.
- Read my reviews of the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief, the second book in the series, The Sea of Monsters, and the third book in the series, The Titan's Curse.