Title: Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse
Author: Rick Riordan
Review: If I were author Rick Riordan, I’d not bother with my usual little introductory paragraph about the book I’m about to review. Rather, I’d leap right into the fray, and the page would be awash with exploding monsters and long lost siblings. But given that I’m a mild-mannered sort, I’ll hold off for a bit before giving you the wham-bam-shazam plot breakdown of Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse. The third in the Percy Jackson series, the Titan’s Curse follows on from Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters (my review of which you can read here), and follows hapless Greek demigod Percy as he seeks not only to deal with the trials and tribulations of puberty and very odd familial relationships, but also to save the world from an ancient evil known as Kronos. Riordan is known for fast-paced, action-heavy writing and, as you might have inferred from my earlier comments, The Titan’s Curse is no different. Take a deep breath, because you’ll need it.
The book opens with Percy being chauffeured by his mum to help apprehend a pair of siblings whom satyr Grover has identified as being demigods. The search and rescue operation is not entirely a success, though, as Percy finds himself facing an unpleasant chap known as the General, who turns out to be in Kronos’s employ, and the whole debacle ends in the disappearance of the goddess Artemis and of Percy’s friend Annabeth. As per usual, a search and rescue mission is set up, although Percy, being, a boy, is barred from the all-female hunting party by its leader. However, a series of twisty coincidences returns Percy to his would-be boy hero status, and soon he’s fighting alongside the others as they search not only for Artemis and Annabeth, but also for a legendary item that , wielded by the wrong person, could result in the destruction of Mount Olympus. Mixed in with all of this is the ongoing theme of trust and friendship: newly resurrected Thalia is quick-witted and impetuous, and it’s unclear whether she can be trusted not to defect to Kronos’s growing team of minions; similarly. Similarly, Percy finds himself conflicted over whether to trust the new sibling demigods, as well as over his oft-strained and complex relationships with his friends and the adult immortals who pop up from time to time to shift things from black and white into a more challenging shade of grey.
Whirlwind pacing and non-stop action is a Riordan trademark, and there’s certainly no shortage of either in The Titan’s Curse. However, the speed with which things unfold can be somewhat alienating at times, as new characters and situations seem to appear and unfold with the suddenness of a party blower unfurling at a New Year’s party. Riordan also has a tendency to escalate tension by having characters announce something ostensibly important, but have any further explanation suddenly cut off by an army of advancing skeletons or some other monster. This can be a little frustrating when employed with any frequency—and unfortunately it is. However, despite being action-oriented, the novel does a good job of weaving in interesting themes relating to self-acceptance and self-worth, friendship, and loyalty, and Riordan does a good job of problematising these rather than dividing things cleanly down the middle. The Titan’s Curse is a little more complex than its predecessors, and offers quite a bit thematically.
Probably the biggest drawcard of the series, though, is Riordan’s deft integration of Greek mythology and, as usual, he does an admirable job here. Readers will find themselves nodding along as they spot references to well-known tales or historical events, and there’s some fun and clever banter (for example around the Sun god, Apollo, being ‘hot’) that flows well and that can be read on a number of levels. A number of gods, stories, and elements of mythology are cleverly worked into The Titan’s Curse, and part of the fun is picking them out from the main narrative.
Despite its mad speed and breathless action, the Percy Jackson series offers some strong plotting and some memorable and likeable characters, and it’s all but impossible to put the books down after cracking them open.
Buy it here:
Kindle Edition: amazon.co.uk