I was quite pleased when I first discovered The Lost Hero.
In the mind of leannaatc at the time: Percy’s missing? New demigods? THERE IS SOMETHING WORSE THAN KRONOS?
The excitement weakened gradually, but not entirely.
Jason can’t remember who he is when he wakes up in a school bus. Piper is nervous, since she thinks he’s her boyfriend and she’s hiding a secret from him. And Leo’s their best friend, who has a knack for fixing things and likes to play with fire.
When they are attacked on a school field trip, they are taken to Camp Half Blood and discover they are demigods, Hera is kidnapped, monsters aren’t dying the way they used to, and the mythological world is yet again on the brink of war.
Oh, and some guy (I think his name is Percy Jackson?) is missing.
There is some difficulty reviewing this book because it feels so essential and yet so non-essential. Essential, because the sequel series needs this as an introduction. Non-essential since it’s debatable whether or not PJO needs a sequel.
And the book keeps hitting both ends of a dichotomy.
Take the characters for example. It’s so easy to say that Leo is the most likeable character in the story. He’s got a bright personality, he’s got the right amount of emotional baggage, he’s got awesome superpowers. Piper, too, is great addition. Her situation is new, her powers add another layer to the regular trickery and deceit used to beat mythological baddies, and she’s not physically inclined like our old protags.
But Jason and Hedge are on the opposite end of the scale. Jason is too…Percy-like for me to see him as an individual, new, unique character. He’s plenty identifiable, since Percy was too, but out of the three new demigods, he’s definitely the most bland, having the status of Percy without any of the personality. And while you could put it to the fact that he’s suffering amnesia, shouldn’t that be when his raw personality shines through since, hey, he’s got no emotionally scarring backstory to make him likeable? But no, we get this bland, confused fifteen-year-old who just does stuff. As the story goes on we get more of his backstory and you start to like him, but by himself, Jason’s just kind of boring.
Hedge is the complete opposite of Jason, he’s too cartoonish to be real. The entire time I read any of his dialogue, actions, or anything to do with him in general, I just picture Phil from Disney’s Hercules. Which really does break the believability of the story.
The plot, itself, is standard. Quest is issued, prophecy to guide them, solstice deadline. It’s pretty formulaic, but the battles are memorable because the heroes use the powers of manipulation and ingenuity to fight, rather than the standard hack and slash. (Albeit with strange circumstances—why are construction vehicles on Mount Diablo anyway?)
The problem with the plot that it is predictable, even without the formulaic plot line. The novel runs on three major clinchers: Who is Jason? Where is Percy? Who’s the new antagonist?
The answers to these questions are pretty much answered in the first two hundred pages of the book, assuming the reader has a decent grasp of Greek mythology (even without knowledge of Gigantomachy) and common sense. Riordan leaves clues everywhere, with references to “mother nature” and having proof literally branded on Jason’s arm. And that leaves about 300 pages for some decent fight scenes followed by people finally getting a clue.
The writing style is still full of snark and quirkiness, the only major difference being the point of view. Rather than first person, Riordan uses third person point of view that rotates between the three main demigods. It’s a good move that familiarizes the reader with each character quickly, while allowing for even character development given that the cast is expected to expand to seven heroes.
But in the end, this book could have been so much shorter and give the same story across, because this book wasn’t really a story, it was a lengthy prologue. If the excuse for the length is that because we needed to get as much page time with the new characters as the old ones, I call BS since Piper and Leo are plenty likeable. It could have been the same length as a regular PJO book, rather than the long and at times painful-since-the-answer-is-right-in-front-of-them novel.
Final Rating: 7/10 good makeovers from Aphrodite (she’s a little hit and miss *coughzootsuitcough*).
Recommendation: Read. You’re only ever going to want to read it through in its entirety once, but if you like Percy Jackson or Harry Potter and are persistent, you need this book to understand character motivations, plot points and inside jokes in the following instalments (which, just from memory, are much better). You don’t need to read PJO to understand what’s going on, but it ups the tension if you do, since you’ll be more emotionally invested in Percy.
What to read next? If you enjoy this story, then I suggest reading The Fire Thief by Terry Deary, which is also a great spin on Greek Mythology. If you’re looking for a juvenile quest story, try Secrets of Droon by Tony Abbott—a series of 100~ page novels following three kids who discover a portal in their basement door.