To those with great restraint who have been avoiding the IMR posts of Blood of Olympus, this review contains no spoilers. Thoughts on spoilerific content in the final book of The Heroes of Olympus Series can be found in the IMR posts on pages 1-100, 101-200, 201-300, 301-400, and the end.
Now that that’s out of the way…it’s time to talk about the end.
The seven of the prophecy are now on their way to Athens, where they must stop Gaea from rising. There’s a dark cloud hanging over them though, because they know that one of their number must die. There is hope: if they can seek the physician’s cure.
Nico, Reyna, and Coach Hedge are on their way back to Camp Half Blood with the Athena Parthenos in tow. But the road isn’t easy. Nico’s withering away with each time he shadow travels. Reyna has a past she wants to keep hidden. And Gaea has sent someone after them.
Back at Camp Half Blood, the Greeks and Romans are preparing for battle. Octavian has taken control and the Greeks are on the edge. War could start any day now…
I have so many and so few words for this book. This is one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever had to write. In many ways, it’s a review of the entire series in general. But you’ll see what I mean.
In all truth, the plot is probably the weakest part of the book. Sure, it just keeps hitting you with nostalgia and answers to questions that have been nagging at the reader’s brain, but I think Blood of Olympus suffers the same thing House of Hades did. The Reyna/Nico arc was just better, making the flaws of the Argo II’s adventures just so much more worse by comparison. There were just so many loose ends and side plots for the Argo II that seemed to go nowhere, taking up time that could have been used for important things like Gaea and giants. The Reyna/Nico plot had finality. There was a purpose and it was achieved and it was done well. The Argo II obviously had a purpose, but whether or not it was achieved well is up for debate.
The character development for Piper, Jason, Nico, Reyna, and even Octavian was amazing. I understood these characters on a level I didn’t even approach before, and it was wonderful. Their interactions, their thoughts, their strengths and weaknesses…it just made so much more sense in this book. I’d argue that the development of these characters made the book absolutely amazing. I kind of wish it was present in earlier books.
Unfortunately, we still have the same problem as before: lacking POV results in lacking plot and character development. Because of the quartet structure with limited narrators, there is so little information on Percy and Annabeth post-Tartarus, and my god, Frank and Hazel get next to nothing again.
I feel guilty for leaving Leo out of my lists because while he’s such an awesome character, he got kind of boring and almost irritating. His character is that kind of cocky-joker that rides the edge of endearing and annoying, sort of like a toddler. For the first four books, he was on the endearing side. Blood of Olympus kind of throws him deep in annoying territory.
It was often awkward to read in his POV: the reader knows what’s going on, but doesn’t really know what’s going on with his plan. It was dramatic irony that could use a little tweaking. And Calypso didn’t feel well integrated into the story, more like she was just Leo’s end game.
The book would have benefited from a stylistic change. Forget the four-chapter-per-narrator structure and put in the POV of all of the seven plus Nico and Reyna. Several scenes would have benefited from the missing POVs.
In fact, I could argue that the series would be better if Rick took all the characterization he put into this book, spread it between the first four, and gave this one a stellar plot. It’s the final book—the plot’s pretty important, and by now we should know almost everything we need to know about our protags. Doing all this missing characterization in the final book seems like a quick save. (Of course, this is a critique of the series as a whole, but since it’s finished, I can say stuff like this now.)
Despite this, when it’s good, Rick’s writing is really good. There is development in every single moment, whether it be plot points (although their significance may be questionable) or character (just not all of them). Even in the quiet moments, things were happening. And there’s a lot of story to get through so that was really impressive.
The problem is because of so much story to get through, it often feels really rushed, particularly at the end. What happened to the detail? There are two major battles…and I barely remember anything about them, because so little was mentioned. The Battle of Manhattan encompasses an entire book, and two battles in Blood of Olympus are less than 50 pages long together?
The themes in the book, and the series as a whole, are probably the only things that have been consistent in quality. A major one is about collaboration, the importance of unity and working together, especially when predisposed to do otherwise. But the other is one I didn’t really expect: the importance of choice and interpretation, and this gets teased out of the main plot rather seamlessly. We learn that prophecies may be end game, but it’s individual choices that lead to interpretation. It was a happy surprise, and an important lesson.
In the end though, I feel like I’m lacking something. Sure, we got there, the story is finished. But it doesn’t feel finished. I don’t want more books, but I want more story. (Does that make sense?) When I first wrote this review, I rated it 9/10. But as the novelty of one my favourite series ending faded, that number started to drop dramatically. I like how everyone ended up, but how they got there? Disappointing.
Dare I say that I want a rewrite? Of the entire series? Where the characters develop over several books instead of just one? Where the seven, Nico, and Reyna are equally focused on? Where the plot gives more significance to important plot points?
I realized that these mixed feelings stem from two different sources: the book by itself, and the series as a whole. You can tell from above, a lot of my problems with the book are because of the way the series was set up. As such, I’ve decided to make two ratings for this review:
Recommendation for Blood of Olympus: Read. But only if you have been following the series. You deserve to read the official ending…but…
Recommendation for The Heroes of Olympus Series: Maybe. The series suffers from what feels like a lack of planning, despite a more darker and mature turn. While it was great to see Percy and co. again with some pretty stellar moments and some amazing new characters, the story doesn’t stand up to the standards set in PJO. PJO offered in-depth characters, detailed battles, and asked questions about the world we live in. Heroes of Olympus tries to do this, but ultimately fails with poor distribution of character development, scattered plot, and an ending that makes the purpose of the quest debatable. It’s a fun read, but try not to take it seriously, or you will be disappointed.