Book review: The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1) – ★★½

I’ll admit, I was late to join the Percy Jackson bandwagon. I hadn’t heard of the series until 2010, when the movie starring Logan Lerman came out. I remember thinking “oh my god, that guy is CUTE!” and “oh my god, this looks like a bit of a Harry Potter rip off for teens.” And I was right – the movie was directed by Chris Columbus (the director of the first to HP films), and changed… a buttload of stuff from the book. Fortunately, I made a promise to myself to read the books before I saw the movie. Unforuntately, I found the books to be underwhelming and the film to be a big improvement. Of course, I was a 16/17 year old girl reading books aimed at young boys/Middle-Schoolers.

But then I heard about this new series: Heroes of Olympus. I saw the huge jump in page numbers, and that the annoying first-person narrative had been switched to third-person, with multiple titular characters. My interest was piqued.

And then… I bought The Lost Hero. If I thought the Percy Jackson books were “humorous” albeit averagely written, then Heroes of Olympus was a trainwreck.

When I cracked the spine I was instantly pleased with the new writing style Riordan has adapted. Things were going well, the plot was instantly intriguing and a definite step up from The Lightning Thief. However, once I came to the third chapter I was in for a rude surprise:

Piper “Beauty Queen” McLean.

What an utter waste of a character. I have no idea what Riordan was thinking when he concocted this horrible, obnoxious, ‘woe-is-me’, Mary-Sue of creature. I swear, by the time I was halfway through the book I would skim read her section of narration/two chapters – be damned with missing out on plot details. Just as I would get into the plot, she would pop up and I was forced to put my book down.

While I am someone who can read a book of this length (550 pages, roughly) in a matter of days, it took me 2 weeks to read this, simply because I was so infuriated with Precious Piper. Excuse me for not being someone who needs to be reminded of how pretty or how beautiful a character is ever 2 chapters. And that rebellious princess syndrome she has isn’t fooling me. I dare anyone to take the Litmus Mary Sue test and grade Piper.

On a lighter note, Leo Valdez was a true delight. Most likely my favourite of the new series. He was funny, well-written and layered. For those of you who saw the Percy Jackson movie, and saw the distinct change in Grover’s personality, Leo is like a strange mix of the two. He is not “whimpy” like Book!Grover, nor is he a “womanizer” like Movie!Grover. He is a perfectly balanced sidekick character, with the true potential to become the hero. Dare I say it, if it were to come down to it… I’d almost choose him over Ron Weasley (depending on the day and my mood).

And of course, our actual hero, Jason. To avoid spoilers, I’ll keep this simple. He is an adequate character, that seems to have annoyed a fair amount of readers, but I personally didn’t find anything wrong with (perhaps I was distracted by wretched Piper). He’s not the same kind of protagonist as Percy – he isn’t funny, or entirely courageous/heroic – but he’s alright. For someone who spends a great deal of time trying to figure out his past… and thinking how “beautiful” Piper is.

If I could break the trio into three:
Piper – the worst damned thing
Leo – the best damned thing
Jason – sorry, I forgot you existed. The other two keep cancelling you out.

Given Jason is the “Hero”, I think that is a bit of a problem… Later on in the series, his personality doesn’t really develop and he just remains… the bland, son of Zeus/Jupiter. Rule number 1: don’t make your hero boring.

This series introduces a blend of Greek and Roman mythology (for those who didn’t know, Riordan has also written a series of books focusing on Egyptology, with minor references to the PJ books – as if all mythologies exist). I like this idea. Initially I thought this wouldn’t work – after all, the contrasting mythologies show a difference in personality for the Gods and difference in stories. However, Riordan seemed to cover this up quite well.

Even without being written in first person (I’ll say this: the PJ books seemed to cage Riordan’s writing style, as he was forced to continue the series written in Percy’s voice, that while being funny and relatable wasn’t exactly groundbreaking), Riordan’s sarcastic wit remains apparent throughout The Lost Hero, but at the same time there is a darker, more mature tone.

All in all, if it hadn’t been for Piper, I would have graded this higher than the Percy Jackson series (it seems to have real potential). I give this book 2.5/5 stars. Though, if you’re someone who can deal with extremely annoying/obnoxious female characters, then I’d probably rate it a 4/5

Rating: ★★½


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