I’m already half way through the fourth book as I finally force myself to write this review. It’s not that these books are bad by any means, I’m just not enjoying them as much as I would like to be, and I’m finding it hard to stir up any feelings on them that are passionate enough to be worth writing down. So instead, I tread water and write about nothing like I’m doing right now…
The big hook going into this book was that now we know who the big bad of the series is, Kronos the Titan. Things are starting to escalate, but not quite fast enough in my opinion. And, honestly, the formula of the books is starting to get a little stale. Someone gets a quest, Percy and a couple random friends set out on it, some crazy stuff happens but you never for once believe a character might die, and then they basically accidentally find the solution to their problem. Now, a lot of fun stuff does happen, and it’s cool seeing all of these Greek characters show up, but every book is starting to feel the same to me.
And I hate to bring up Harry Potter again in one of these reviews, but the analogy is apt. With few exceptions, each Harry Potter novel leads up to a confrontation with Voldemort at the end. But the world of HP is so rich and there are enough fun characters and hi-jinx that it’s easy to overlook the formula. These books don’t quite have that luxury. Because of the writing style, Percy isn’t a very clearly defined character, he’s more of a blank slate for kids to insert themselves into (that’s way more perverted sounding than I intended). And while we visit a lot of cool, historical locales, none of them have the personality of Hogwarts. I often find myself forgetting the names of a lot of the introduced characters, not because they’re hard to pronounce (even though they sometimes are), but because those characters and locations just aren’t that interesting.
I will give Titan’s Curse this much though, it does buck the formula in a key way that I did not expect. Two major characters died. Up to this point, the books have had a rotating cast of characters surrounding Percy on his quest, which is all fine and good. It helps to keep things fresh. But because of this, it was a little hard to care that much about the characters that died, considering we had just been introduced to them two hundred pages earlier. But still, I’ll give credit where it’s due, and hopefully we’ll see more character deaths going forward. Not that I’m some sadist who wants everyone in novels to die, but without some important characters dying along the way, it’s hard to ever feel danger when our protagonists stumble into it.
-we now have a clearly defined bad guy
-Thalia is an interesting character
-more interactions with the gods
-not enough forward progress for the main story
-formula is wearing a bit thin
-story diversions just aren’t that much fun