I love Rick Riordan. A History Teacher? Who wrote these books to help teach students mythology? Who combined mythology (love it) with fantasy (love it). Seriously? I love it all, if you missed that. So all of these books for me - Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and now The Heros of Olympus - these all make me so, so happy. My inner geekette is giddy.
I don't know how to recap this book without giving too much away - both of this story and of the two that came before it. If you haven't read any of the Heros of Olympus, go get The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune and come back to read this once you're done. Okay?
So, this book starts off right where The Son of Neptune left off. Like, right where it left off. Annabeth, Jason, Piper, and Leo are landing the Argo II at Camp Jupter and Percy, Frank, and Hazel are there to meet them. After a short uniting of the demigods of both Camp Jupiter and Camp Half-Blood, all hades breaks loose (see what I did there) and The Seven are forced to flee with the whole Roman army on their heels. Oops.
They're off to Rome to try and stop the giant twins from waking up Gaia, save Nico, and try not to get killed in the process. You see, the Mare Nostra, or the Mediterranean, is basically a death sentence for demigods. It's too powerful, too full of the old ways. But, that's where the Seven have to go. And they have very little help from the Gods who are becoming a little schizophrenic with the coming together of the two camps - they're getting mixed up between their different aspects and have little time to, or will, to help the heroes.
And to top it all off, Annabeth has to set off alone once they get there. Her mother sent her off to follow the mark of Athena to avenge her against the Romans (who totally changed her personality when they converted the Greek gods to Roman) and hopefully unite the two camps agains Gaia. She can only do this by herself, much to Percy's dismay. But that's the way it has to be.
They're in for quite the adventure, these seven demigods. Saving the world - just another day in the life.
This book is packed full of adventure, greek mythology, and snarky/witty comments and banter. So, basically, it's a perfect Rick Riordan book. The Son of Neptune was good, but I really feel like things came together better in this book - maybe it's because all the demigods were finally in one place. The character development is some of the best I've read from Riordan. It's like the earlier books, but better.
I still really love the alternating perspectives with the chapters. But what I really love about that is that Riordan doesn't feel the need to go back and explain the same event a second time like some authors might. He also will have characters give a brief 'catch up' when they reappear in the story during someone else's perspective. For example, if Annabeth and co. finally meet up with Leo and co. Leo will give a "yeah, well we were doing x while you were off fighting monsters" instead of us having to read every detail. It really helps to give all the details while keeping the story moving along.
Basically, I loved this book. Really. It was great (and I'm really glad that I read it right after I finished Son of Neptune. I think that made it all the more enjoyable for me). I was with them every step of their journey in this book - I could barely put it down. It was just the book I needed.
Oh, and watch out for that cliff hanger. It's a doozy.
(What do you mean I have to wait until NOVEMBER for the next one?!)
Title: The Mark of Athena
Author: Rick Riordan
Medium: Hard Cover
Date Read: 5 January 2013
First Line: Until she met the exploding statue, Annabeth thought she was prepared for anything.
Favorite Line: I try not to think. It interferes with being nuts.
Last Line: Festus, raise the sails, we have some friends to save. [whited out, for spoiler's sake]
Recommended For: At least 4th grade? Maybe a bit younger? It would depend on reading level, I guess. But, it's not a hard read.
Recommended: Yes. For any one of any age. It's a fun series - and you learn a lot about mythology in the process. These are great books for sharing too - read it alongside a kid, or to them, or with them.
Source: Barnes & Nobel - gift card!
Challenges: Goodreads; Off The Shelf (purchased: November 2012)