A little later than expected, I’m back on my Heroes of Olympus review run. The Son of Neptune is the second book in the five-part series.
Having already had the introductory book to the series in The Lost Hero, what we needed was another one, and that’s exactly what The Son of Neptune’s purpose is. Usually, this would immediately make it pointless in its five hundred page existence, but if you know the Heroes of Olympus, you know it’s needed.
While The Lost Hero picked up on the Greek side of the Prophecy of Seven – or, to Rick Riordan’s readers at that point in time, familiar territory – The Son of Neptune explores completely new ground in the Roman side, in an absolutely flawless way.
Having Percy Jackson, Riordan’s poster boy, returning as the titular character was enough of a selling point for this book, but the fact that this really kicked this book series into gear makes it all the better. If you read my review for The Lost Hero, you’d understand that it is a book I love, with problems. This book, though, is one without drawbacks, despite the fact that it is almost exactly the same thing, structurally.
Both books feature an amnesiac famous hero sent across the country to supposed ‘enemy’ territory, where they are sent on a quest in which they have to free a god, are accompanied by two companions, discovers a relative previously unknown, and have to deal with a giant born solely with the purpose of being the slayer of their Olympian parent. It is actually amazing how similar they are.
Where The Son of Neptune stands out, however, is in its characters. Jason, Piper and Leo – all being new characters – are interesting in their own rights, but the biggest problem The Lost Hero has is that it is often bogged down by back stories or dreams. That is not a problem in this. They are still there, obviously, but the difference is that Hazel Levesque and Frank Zhang are simply far more compelling characters. In fact, that may be an understatement. This isn’t to say Piper, Leo and Jason were bland. By all means they were not. But Frank and Hazel are a level beyond.
Something that also brought down The Lost Hero was its robotic feel, with each character narrating two chapters, and then it being passed on, in sequence. Sequence exists in this book, specifically Percy-Hazel-Frank, but there is no fixed number of chapters each time and the story is just more free-flowing.
It is worth remembering, when reading this book, that Percy is an established character, and so has less significance than Hazel and Frank, despite what the title may indicate. He has his own arc, naturally, and he does feel like the ‘leader’ in this book, but the focus of the book is around the other two characters, with the story mostly molded around them as well. This was a smart move by Riordan. Everybody loves Percy, but he had to make everyone love Frank and Hazel too.
Finally, Camp Jupiter is ridiculously awe-inspiring. It really is. Readers are introduced to a whole new world and are blown away by its spectacle. Camp Half-Blood is great, but Camp Jupiter’s less organised fashion (architecture wise) makes it so much more appealing. A map of it is printed at the front of the book, and it’s just breathtaking.
The Son of Neptune is a book which is superior to The Lost Hero in every way, and took the Heroes of Olympus to a whole new level. The rest of the demigods in the Prophecy of Seven are introduced, and all pieces are in place to steam roll ahead with The Mark of Athena, the review of which will be coming some time soon.
On a scale where M is the lowest, and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating: