The Mark of Athena hit bookshelves early last week. We’ve read it from cover to cover and we’re here to share the good, the bad, and the monstrous.

Rick Riordan doesn’t disappoint with his latest installment in the Heroes of Olympus series. His trademark humor is spot on, causing more than one real-life LOL. All the silly monsters and clever lines that we fell in love with when we read The Lightning Thief are new, improved, and back with a vengeance. We’ve got fresh retorts and the latest Greek god-inspired spoofs (our favorite one being, “So you think you can weave better than a goddess?”), and each one packs a serious punch.

The Mark of Athena sees representatives of the two camps – Half-Blood and Jupiter – together in the same place, but not necessarily united under the same flag. Seven demigods have to venture forth on the quest of a lifetime, but the hardest part might prove to be working together. They must fly on the Argo II, the Greek trireme adorned with the head of our favorite dragon Festus, cross the United States, traverse the ocean, and end up in Rome – one of the most dangerous places in the world for demigods. (Go figure, right?)

The story is told from four different points of view: Piper, Leo, Percy, and Annabeth. Stepping back into Percy’s shoes always feels like soaking in a nice, clean, freshwater river after a particularly arduous day at Camp Half-Blood. Leo is also a personal favorite, and his witty retorts and unique perspectives don’t go unappreciated. Even hopping into Piper’s brain for a while feels familiar and secure. But this truly is Annabeth’s story (hence the title of the book) and we can’t help but say: finally!

On the whole, the book was another success as far as we’re concerned. The funny moments weigh equally with the emotional bits, and the suspense keeps you turning pages as if the fate of the world is resting on your back (or maybe that was just Atlas wanting a quick break). The most exciting part had to be when the demigods finally made it to Rome. Despite the fact that they knew what they had to face there, the crew of the Argo II and the readers alike take a moment to appreciate finally stepping foot in one of the birthplaces of all those legends.

The book slows down periodically to take note of everyone’s situation. There are a lot of characters aboard the ship, and taking stock of what each one is thinking or doing can become tiresome. This book is as much about relationships as it is about finding a way to stop Gaea, and while that’s all fine and dandy, sometimes we (as in this writer in particular) just wants to see some ancient mythological monster’s head flying instead of hearing about how everyone feels about everyone else.

Gone are the days of the 12-year-old boy who just found out his father was Poseidon. (Can we just take a moment here as well to say that we really miss those snarky chapter titles from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series?) Percy is almost 17 and the tone of the book reflects this. The various couples find themselves alone more often and we sense that our favorite characters are almost fully-fledged adults. The humor is sometimes in contrast to this and doesn’t fit as well with the story as when our characters were pre-teens. On the other hand, we can’t say we didn’t laugh when a giant with an affinity for ballet popped up in a blue tutu and insisted on performing a pirouette with every attack.

The novel on a whole answered a lot of questions, although we probably have just as many new ones for the following book. But these set us up perfectly for the next installment as well: we know the goal (to save the world…again), but it’s an impossible task under an impossible deadline. It’s nothing new for our heroes, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Oh, and the ending? Well, we’re obviously not going to give that away. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

How did you like ‘The Mark of Athena’?

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