Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Review: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

So Day 2 of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians week! :D Today, I'll be reviewing The Sea of Monsters, the second book in the series. From here on, it'll be hard to avoid spoilers, so be warned!!

***SPOILERS ALERT, READ AT YOUR OWN RISKS!!***


The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
published by Hyperion Books in June 2006

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 ofhis 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.

In this fresh, funny, and wildly popular follow-up to The Lightning Thief, Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family - one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.
Genre: Young Adult, fantasy
Series:Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book #2

The Story: Wow, it's when I'm about to write this synopsis that I realize how much I left out in the review of The Lightning Thief ^_^; But let's give it a try :D

The Sea of Monsters start about a year after the events in The Lightning Thief where at end, Percy discovered that Luke, the half-blood of Hermes, was the real lightning thief. Luke has been enraged at the gods for ignoring and neglecting their half-bloods and wants to be recognized. As a result, he has allied himself with Kronos, the fearful king of the Titans, who has plans to destroy the Greek gods... Everyone believes that this alliance will play a huge role in the events that will happen when the half-blood from either Zeus, Poseidon or Hades turns 16 years old.

The year between The Lighting Thief and The Sea of Monsters has been quiet, except that lately, Percy has been having dreams of Grover being in danger. Then, on the last day of school, Percy is attacked. Luckily for him, Annabeth shows up just in time and they escape to the camp, dragging Percy's new friend, Tyson. It turns out that Tyson is in reality a cyclops and Percy's half-brother.

Things at the camp are not going well. First of all, Chiron - their mentor - has been fired because it is believed that he has poisoned Thalia's tree. Because the tree is dying, the boundaries of the camp has weakened as well, allowing monsters to come through and attack. Percy and Annabeth believe that only the Golden Fleece could save Thalia's tree... and luckily, Grover seems to have found it. Against the camp director's decree, Annabeth, Percy and Tyson embark on another quest: to find the Golden Fleece and save Grover... and thus, they head to the Sea of Monsters.

My Opinion: Let's get right into it. In my opinion, The Sea of Monsters was the weakest book in the series, definitively not my favorite. My main complaint was the overall storyline was not very interesting and failed to grab my attention. The reason was it took too much time to set it up and so, the action, i.e. the good parts, started very late in the book which is always a detriment in a fantasy novel. Then, once the action started, it was just too fast, one event after another and the end. I guess it was a question of balance and pacing, it just wasn't right... which is disappointing considering it was perfect in The Lightning Thief.

Still, there were some good things about it. I like seeing the characters' growth. Annabeth and Percy are now 13 years old and while it's only been a year, you do see some maturation. The best example would be Tyson. In some aspect, Tyson is simple-minded, not the brightest light and cyclops in general are not well viewed... and so at first, Percy was embarrassed, but he still defended Tyson when others were making fun of him. You see Percy's mixed emotions and how he deals with them and I thought it was very realistic and well-written. LOL, I have to admit, Tyson is a favorite of mine in this book :) He's just so endearing. His character is quite different from all the others: honest and earnest with a gentle core. There were quite a few LOL moments involving Tyson and Percy :D Other characters are starting to be more fleshed as well - that was interesting and a good build up for the rest of the series.

On its own, the storyline of The Sea of Monsters is weak and not as interesting, but it does have some quite interesting twists. Especially the end, adding another player in the whole prophecy :D So it does contribute to the series andit makes it worth to read.

My Grade: B-. As a whole, The Sea of Monsters is not a bad book: it's well-written, the characters are getting more and more interesting, it does contain some good action and a few laughs. Unfortunately, its storyline is a bit boring and weak in comparison to the rest of the series.

***


Yesterday, we talked about the casting of the main characters... today, it's the gods of Olympus' turn :D Let's start with the big three.


Zeus = Sean Bean, Poseidon = Kevin McKidd, Hades = Steve Coogan

As a whole, I don't really have any complaints about this casting. I'm a bit familiar with Sean Bean because of Lords of the Ring and of course, Kevin McKidd plays Owen Hunt in Grey's Anatomy, so he's not a total stranger for me. However, I do not recognize the actor for Hades. I'm actually not too worried about their acting, because their roles are not that large... The most important I think was their presence and charisma and in that department, I think they were good choices... especially Zeus. Also, I don't know, but there is a small family trait no?

My biggest concern is actually their costumes. Is that what they're going to wear during the movie? Really?!? Because it totally doesn't fit the description in the books. A better look below.



Sure, they're Greek Gods, so I understand what the costumes department was thinking... but hello, doesn't fit the description of the book!! I think this is going to take a lot away from the movie... because one of my favorite parts of The Lightning Thief was reading the contemporary descriptions of the gods. For example, Poseidon is a beach bum and Zeus, a businessman. As for Hades, I really don't like his costume... a bit too rocker or gothic in my opinion. I think they could have spent the money to make Hades' robe... it would have been much more dramatic.

In the two pictures above, you see 2 women... Athena and Persephone...


Persephone = Rosario Dawson, Athena:Melina Kanakaredes

Arghhhh!!! What is that?!?!? I have nothing against the actresses, they're both talented and beautiful women... but they don't fit the roles in my opinion!! Actually, the biggest problem? Persephone doesn't appear in The Lightning Thief since it's summer!!! And true, she's Hades' wife... but why the wicked look? I don't know, it doesn't really fit my knowledge of Persephone (plus, she's supposed to be blond). So I definitively think Rosario Dawson is a miscast.

As for Athena, well besides the fact that she too is supposed to be blond, nothing to say really. I think they could have chosen someone better to play the role, but Melina Kanakaredes is definitively not my first choice.

What do you think?

6 comments:

  1. I agree, Sea of Monsters was my least fav. But it get some plots going that play a big part later. LIke Thalia.

    As far as costumes, I don't mind them. I would have like to have seen the contemp attire though. Persephone.. I agree. She's not supposed to be in the movie. She doesn't even appear until the last book!!!

    Athena, i don't mind. On webiste, they have her as a brunette.

    I do like who they cast as Zeus and Poseidon though.

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  2. I think it would have been more interesting to have the beach bum, businessman etc. We've seen the traditional Greek done to death. Too bad the movie producers decided to go that way.

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  3. Haven't read this series yet so I have no real opinion. I just wanted to say that I really like Kevin McKidd. :)

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  4. My brother who read the books and is rereading for the movie said that based on the previews, the movie is very very different. He doesn't sound impressed. But we're still going to see it.

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  5. I agree with both you and Isabel. I thought this was the weakest book in the series. BUT, I also thought this book introduced some key elements that come into play later on in the series. One of those transitional books in a series. :)

    I agree that the wardrobe department really messed up, nath. The fact that the gods adapt to a contemporary setting is important to Riordan's overall story... ugh!

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  6. Isabel - True, true, it does... but the overall storyline wasn't great, I think. I liked the fact that Thalia was brought back to life :D

    I saw some parts of a trailer and it seems that Persephone really doesn't love Hades. That's just wrong in my opinion :( Ugh, I don't really want her in the movie :(

    I like Zeus and Poseidon as well :D

    Leslie - Yeah, that's my point. I mean, these gods have adapted to America, so you know, show it! :P There seems to be some scenes where they do dress modernly, but not on Olympus :( ah well.

    Brie - LOL. I like him in Grey's Anatomy as well... not sure about his character though.

    Ames - I agree with your brother, Ames. I want to see it, but seriously, I'm a bit unhappy at all the changes :(

    Hilcia - I think so too, Hils :D Seems like the movie is taking a lot of liberties with the storyline :(

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