"Found one. Thank the gods." Annabeth pulled out a gold coin that I recognized as a drachma, the currency of Mount Olympus. It had Zeus's likeness on one side and the Empire State Building on the other.
"Annabeth," I said, "New York taxi drivers won't take that."
"Stêthi," she shouted in Ancient Greek. "Ô hárma diabolês!"
As usual, the moment she spoke in the language of Olympus, I somehow understood it. She'd said: Stop, Chariot of Damnation!
That didn't exactly make me feel real excited about whatever her plan was.
Author: Rick Riordan
Synopsis: When Percy starts having dreams about his best friend—a satyr named Grover—wearing a wedding dress and begging for help, he expects trouble. And he gets it, in the form of attacks on Camp Half-Blood, a Cyclops for a half-brother, a competitive daughter of Ares, and encounters with Luke, who has diabolical plans of his own.
With a little help from his friend Annabeth, his embarrassing half-brother, and Luke's father (Hermes), Percy sets out to find the Golden Fleece and save Grover and Camp Half-Blood all in one. It's more than enough quest for a seventh-grader.
Notes: Riordan's middle-grade-boy voice is perfect and hilarious in this second installment of the Percy series. I laughed a lot, and I never got bored.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say this book improved upon the first. The Vegas-y version of Charon and a few other things in The Lightning Thief stretched my suspension of disbelief a little bit. But Annabeth's close call with the sirens, the ultrafeminist Circe, the monster Polyphemus and the amusing portrayal of the Bermuda triangle never tripped me up. Annabeth's experience was chilling and even poignant, and the threads involving Tyson and Hermes provided something to really cheer for.
Especially since a part of me is kind of attached to Luke. I don't get it; I never really liked Snape or Malfoy and couldn't rouse much sympathy for Saruman, but for whatever reason, I want to see Luke redeemed. If it comes to shipping, I'm all in favor of Percy getting the girl. But I still hope Luke doesn't end up in Tartarus with Kronos.
Percy got to develop a bit as a character and a hero in this one, and I enjoyed the time I got to spend with him. And I can't imagine not liking Annabeth. Her story got fleshed out a lot in this tale, and I'm eager to see more of her past and her fate.
As anyone might expect from a bunch of superheroes with Greek gods for parents, things like right and wrong and religion are a tad muddy. Be advised, if you will. But overall, the books are just rip-roaring urban fantasy adventures, and squeaky clean (so far) other than the possible need for a little basic explaining about typical Greek-god morality.
Recommendation: Pure escapist fun, and also helpful for learning the Greek myths (in perhaps the sort of way that the Veggie Tales are helpful for learning Bible stories). I especially recommend it if you have to go anywhere near the Bermuda triangle.