Tuesday, August 10, 2010
"The Last Olympian" by Rick Riordan
Musings: After following Percy and his friends through five books, there's satisfying closure in The Last Olympian. As expected, relationships are restored and strengthened; good triumphs evil. However, the final book in the series is also a lot like the previous four, and Percy and his friends, despite being five years older, don't appear to have changed or grown. Unlike the Harry Potter series, in which the pains and rewards of maturing and growing older are at a forefront, Percy remains in a stasis of semi-deluded (I don't know how many times he was "shocked!" or "stunned!" by what just happened!!) good-natured innocence. The lack of real character development is not a major drawback, as the book is as fun as always, but it does keep the series from forming a real emotional attachment with the reader in the way that Harry Potter does.
Most of The Last Olympian centers on the major fight for Olympus. A variety of new monsters are introduced for this purpose, but the consistent plot arc of horrible monsters --> last minute reinforcement to save the day! --> recuperate --> more horrible monster than before! --> more amazing reinforcement than before --> etc. can get old. Percy and Annabeth's relationship, already painfully slow in coming, also seems drawn out.
One interesting question brought up several times in the book is whether the gods are really better rulers than the Titans. A number of demi-gods, minor gods, and monsters join the Titans' side, and while Percy and others continue to fight on the gods' side--the "good guys'" side--I didn't think a very compelling argument was made for why the gods should be supported. The novel could have been more interesting had the division between good and bad been acknowledged as muddy.
Nonetheless, Riordan knows how to keep the pace quick and draw in major players in a cohesive narrative. It's an excellent series for young adults.
- Read my reviews of the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief, the second book in the series, The Sea of Monsters, the third book in the series, The Titan's Curse, and the fourth book in the series, The Battle of the Labyrinth.