“You’re not serious,” he said. “Not the Underworld again.”
“I’m not asking you to come, man,” I promised. “I know you just woke up. But we need some music to open the door. Can you do it?”
Grover took out his reed pipes. “I guess I could try. I know a few Nirvana tunes that can split rocks. But, Percy, are you sure you want to do this?”
“Please, man,” I said. “It would mean a lot. For old times’ sake?”
He whimpered. “As I recall, in the old times we almost died a lot. But okay, here goes nothing.”
Author: Rick Riordan
Synopsis: Determined to fulfill the prophecy and take down Luke and Kronos if at all possible, Percy and Annabeth and the other half-bloods gather for the final showdown in New York. Meanwhile, the gods are distracted, too busy fighting the great monster Typhon to help defend Olympus against Kronos. Outnumbered and out-brute-forced, Percy takes Nico up on a dangerous offer, by which he hopes to give his friends an edge against the Titan’s army.
Notes: It’s hard not to love Percy’s enthusiastic, humorous middle-grade narrative, and he doesn’t let us down in this final installment. Granted, in five years his voice ages only subtly, but that’s a valid authorial choice and, in many ways, refreshing. Riordan maintains a clean flow of thought, fun and lighthearted.
Only in a middle-grade novel (or perhaps something by Terry Pratchett) can you find a series of massive war scenes attempting to be funny. Riordan succeeds where angels fear to tread, however, and as Kronos and Typhon bring chaos and death into New York, flying pigs and marching statues and careful handling keep the battle from becoming more than the average nine-year-old can handle.
Likewise, the full scandal of the myths themselves is neatly avoided, even as Percy falls in love himself. His affection for Annabeth manages to be sweet and believable without going into too much, too soon.
While the story plunges into action very quickly, it saves all its big reveals for the end. Considering how much was left to resolve—Annabeth’s secrets and Luke’s, Percy’s confrontation with Kronos and the prophecy, Nico’s troubles and Grover’s and Rachel Elizabeth Dare’s, etc.—this makes for a long, very satisfying wrap-up to the story. At certain moments I was both startled and moved, which was all I could ask for and, actually, more than I expected to get from the book.
The demigods fight bravely, and mortal stepfather Paul Blofis proves both amusing and lovable, but when the time comes for the last battle, the right characters are at Percy’s side. Percy, like most great child-victors before him, relies on his friends to help him—even after a dip in the Styx makes him rather tougher than the average youngster—and all of his best friends get their time in the spotlight.
The book closed with a vivid sense of summer, the sort of cheerfulness inspired by friends and camp and free days and sunshine and swimming. It’s a good way for a series to end, especially one for the young.
Recommendation: Likable and a great little stress-killer. Read it in the sunshine for full benefit.