The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson & the Olympians #2
Genre: Middle Grade, comedy, fantasy
Published on April 1, 2006
Published by Hyperion Books
Read From: 8.8.13 - 8.9.13
Percy Jackson's seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get. . . .well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of Percy's friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.
Characters: Percy Jackson continues to be a thoroughly amusing and sympathetic protagonist. He doesn't go looking for trouble; like all demigods, it just finds him, and because he's the son of Poseidon, it seems to find him more often than others. Percy does what needs to be done to protect his friends, no matter what; even if it means sacrificing himself, and I have to admire him for that. Annabeth still manages to be intelligent and a good fighter without having the Attitude, and Grover is just as funny as before. As much of a jerk Clarisse is, I really do like her. She feels like she has to prove herself to her dad, Ares. And though she has a major chip on her shoulder, Clarisse doesn't have the Attitude, either; she just comes across as a really butch girl, and it works for her. However, one of my absolute favorite characters in this particular story is Tyson. Poor kid doesn't really understand why people are mean to him - mortals and demigods alike - and he's got a heart of gold. Now, I'm not usually a big fan of retarded characters, just because they seem to be put into a story to elicit sympathy from the Reader and usually don't contribute much to the story. But while Tyson is a bit slower than most people, and far stronger than he knows, he isn't completely incapable. Tyson knows when he needs to be quiet (like when Percy and Co. are sneaking up on enemies) and he's actually very tuned in to people's emotions. The fact that Tyson is not in fact a mortal, but a baby Cyclops, just made him that much more adorable.
The Romance: There isn't any!
Plot: It's been a year since Percy's last adventure, when Zeus' master thunderbolt was stolen by Luke, son of Hermes, and almost started a war between the Greek gods. Percy has had a pretty quiet year, and he's looking forward to returning to Camp Half-Blood. But when Percy starts to have strange and alarming dreams about his friend, Grover, he knows that there is something horribly wrong. A game of dodgeball turned into a deadly life-and-death battle signals his need to leave for Camp Half-Blood, before more monsters find him. But things aren't safe there, either. Someone has poisoned the tree that maintains Camp Half-Blood's magical borders. Monsters are breaching the camp and Chiron has been blamed for not protecting the half-bloods as well as he should. There's only one thing that will restore the tree's health: the legendary Golden Fleece. Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson are on a tight schedule; they only have a few weeks before Camp Half-Blood is destroyed forever. Yes, Percy and his friends go on another quest, like in The Lightning Thief. Yes, they encounter monsters and strange traps - and more gods that sort of help them, but not much. So in other words, the plot's structure is the same as in Book One, but the content and goal are different. Somehow, I didn't find it boring or repetitive. I continued to find the Author's modern twists on mythical creatures to be thoroughly entertaining, and I loved how Percy's quest had very definite similarities to Odysseus' journey: Scylla and Charybdis, Circe, Polyphemus, et cetera. It was fun. And despite some predictability, there are moments of peril where I was genuinely concerned about certain characters. The Author has it in him to kill off characters; I get that very distinct feeling.
Believability: Not applicable.
Writing Style: First person, past tense. As with The Lightning Thief, Percy makes for a very entertaining narrator. And like with the first book, the style itself isn't anything special. It's very modern and lacks beauty. However, the Author writes realistic characters, combines humor and drama so perfectly, and elicits strong emotion from the Reader.
Conclusion: Time is running out, naturally, and Percy is starting to realize that there's more going on than just meets the eye. There's a darker force at work - a force that is waking up. And it will lead to disaster. Add to that the fact that The Sea of Monsters ends on an extreme teaser. It's always nice going back and reading books that one has read as a kid - and then discovering that they really are as good as one remembers. I still really love The Sea of Monsters and the world of Percy Jackson. I hope my good opinion continues.
Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, any age, great for fans of mythology retellings and P. B. Kerr's Children of the Lamp series.
Others in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series:
1)The Lightning Thief
2)The Sea of Monsters
3)The Titan's Curse
4)The Battle of the Labyrinth
5)The Last Olympian