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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

Released: October 8th 2013   Pages: 597
Publisher: Hyperion Books     Source: Library

The ending of The Mark of Athena will go down in history in the Heroes of Olympus fandom as an event that caused mass trauma and many tears as many people's OTP fell into Tartarus.  While I didn't undergo the as much trauma as more die-hard fans, and it wasn't my OTP (my OTP won't fall into Tartarus together because, as of book 4, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen had never met--no spoilers, please but actually, G.R.R.M., GET ON THAT.), I still was shocked along with everyone else.  

And yet, when you end with such an emotionally charged cliffhanger like that, there has to be payoff in the next installment.  You can't leave readers that distraught and then not carry that level of emotion over to the next book.  I felt like The House of Hades didn't quite carry that emotion over the gap between the two books.  Then again, it's been a year since I read tMoA, so this could have had contributed to this dropoff.

Once again, though, I was glad to return to the Argo II, the "ship of ships".  Seriously, though, everyone is half of a couple, unless you're Coach Hedge, Nico, or Leo.  I'm not a fan of having everyone be in a relationship, but at least the romance isn't turning into the biggest part of the plot.  Frank/Hazel is cute; it took me a long time to grow to love Percabeth, but I got there eventually; I couldn't care less about Piper/Jason.

For me, Piper and Jason are the weak points, and have been from the beginning.  Neither of them are as three-dimensional as the rest of the characters.  Everyone else, for the most part, is a character that feels real.  They have strengths and flaws just like an actual person, and most of all, they have qualities that endear me to them, like Annabeth's resourcefulness, Percy's loyalty, Nico's quiet strength, Hazel's kindness, etc.  Piper and Jason, though, are just kind of...there.

And then there's Leo, the seventh wheel.  Let me get this out of the way: I love Leo so incredibly much.  He's amazing.  Not only is he hilarious, witty, and smart, he's also the most interesting and complex character in this series.  Whenever he came into a scene, I was like this:

Haha, look at Jeremy.  "Oooh, I'm gonna make this a group hug--NOPE."
Leo Valdez is one of my favorite fictional people, ever.  This wouldn't ever happen, but I'd love to read something with both him and Sage/Jaron from The False Prince.  They remind me so much of each other--they both use their sarcasm to hide their dark backstories.  And they're lovable and hilarious.  They'd be best friends.  Rick Riordan and Jennifer Nielson should make this happen for me.  I have to admit, though, I wasn't on board with "Caleo" (Calypso/Leo) until I saw this awesome piece of fan art.  

I couldn't leave this review without discussing Nico's revelation.  I didn't see it coming at all, and I'm still not sure how to feel about it.  Rick Riordan, did you really need to give Nico something else to suffer over?  Then again, it's the author's job to cause trouble for characters, but STILL.  Nico is another of my favorite characters, and I'm interested to see how this new information about him will be handled in the next book.

Overall, I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the previous books in the series.  For some reason, I didn't quite as emotionally invested while reading this one.  Still, though, I enjoy this series.  It's fun, exciting, and emotional.  The characters are quirky, endearing, and real (mostly).  I can't wait for the final book of the series.

Similar Books: It's funny along the lines of Artemis Fowl (though, admittedly, it's less funny, and AF leans more heavily on the sarcasm side, but the books still appeal to similar audiences). It has mythology all over the place like The Alchemyst, it's by the same author (it's a continuation series) and uses some of the same characters The Lightning Thief, and has snarky average-kid-turned-superhero characters like The Merchant of Death.

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