The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Genre: Adventure, fantasy, mythology, tween fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Summary: Set months after Percy Jackson and Co. battle it out with Kronos in The Last Olympian, The Lost Hero picks up the story of Camp Half-Blood. Three new protagonists are introduced: Jason, who wakes up without any memory of who or where he is; Piper, the reluctantly beautiful girl who steals to get attention from her celebrity father; and Leo, the Latino kid who has never belonged since he was orphaned at the age of eight.
Thrown together by fate, the three kids learn they are demi-gods and are brought to Camp Half-Blood. It is quickly realized they are three of the seven heroes mentioned in the great prophecy from The Last Olympian. With the help of a bronze mechanical dragon and a new supporting cast of mythical beings, they set off on a quest across North America to help a trapped goddess, solve the mystery of who Jason is, and try to quell another threat to Mount Olympus.
When I got to the new great prophecy in The Last Olympian, I was slightly annoyed. “How often do these great prophecies occur?” I asked myself. It was obviously a set-up for a new series, but I wasn’t convinced it was necessary. The kids had saved the day; Percy chose mortality. All was well. Then – BAM. New problem. After reading The Lost Hero, I am glad Riordan chose to continue the story of Camp Half-Blood. While there were some definite flaws, the story was overall enjoyable and left me wanting to continue with this new crew.
The biggest departure from the Percy Jackson series is the change in narrative structure. Riordan writes this series in the voices of three different characters. The sequence goes: two chapters as Jason, two as Piper, two as Leo. Repeat. It’s also done in third person, as opposed to the first person Percy narrative. The transition between characters is done well. The switch is never jarring, as Riordan builds natural bridges between the characters. I also liked getting different perspectives on the action, and seeing how the choices of one kid affects the others. The group has a good dynamic, and it’s fun to watch them go from pretend friends to real ones as the story unfolds. However, the three-person narrative causes one huge problem for me. The book is way too freaking long.
553 pages is about 150 pages too many. I believe The Last Olympian was about 375, and that was the end of the series. I hope the editor cuts down some of the bloat in the next installment, because there were some points where I wanted to break out my red pen and start scratching out paragraphs. So much time is spent establishing each back story, and then each character’s connection to the trapped goddess, that it’s page 200 before they even leave on the quest. By then, I had pretty much guessed both Jason’s origin and the new enemy. If Riordan spent more time on the present story, revealing things while moving the plot along, he could’ve cut down the length and made the story more suspenseful. Another issue that I hope he resolves in the next book is Jason.
Jason is such a Mary Sue – his only discernible flaw is his amnesia. But even that is beyond his control. He is blonde, super-muscley, a natural leader, an instinctive fighter. He can even FLY. (No, I am not kidding). He doesn’t want to date Piper just in case he is involved with someone in the life he can’t remember. How noble – and boring. I think his chapters are the reason the length was such an issue for me. He doesn’t have much spark, which is unfortunate as it’s pretty clear he will be the leader in this series. I am hoping the introduction of his real life will reveal some flaws or dark secret. Otherwise, I’m hoping Percy takes him in a cagematch.
On the other hand, I really enjoyed reading Piper and Leo’s parts. I thought Piper was going to be the Mary Sue. Misunderstood pretty girls with money usually annoy me to no end. But Piper doesn’t want pity, she wants her dad to spend time with her. There is a fairly complex relationship between her father, their heritage (they are of Cherokee descent), and Piper. I also liked the twist on Piper’s godly parent, as it’s not the one you’d expect. While she started out slightly annoying, Piper grows into her skin and becomes a relatable character. I liked Leo from the start. Even with a tragic past, he has resiliency and resourcefulness that make him the most believable and likable character.
As for the plot structure, well it’s very similar to the Percy Jackson books. They go from place to place, encountering different mythical beings. Some try to kill them, some help them out. It’s not a bad thing, as it serves the purpose of the book. Nonstop action, a few fart jokes thrown in, some romance along the way. The big mystery (which you’ll probably figure out by the halfway mark) will have ramifications in the next book. It should cause major tension and drama, something which this first book lacked.
– Story differs enough from the Percy Jackson series that it feels fresh and necessary
– Riordan’s use of language is light yet realistic
– Piper and Leo are great characters, with strengths and flaws that make them dynamic
– Steampunk dragon = awesome
– Way too long, with a very bloated beginning
– Jason is too perfect to be interesting, especially after you solve the mystery of his origin
Despite starting off painfully slow, The Lost Hero steadily picks up steam. By the end of the book, you’ll be clamoring to find out what happens to our trio in the next book. The final chapters promise lots of fighting, juicy drama, more revelations, and even more secrets that have yet to be uncovered.