Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Finally a review!! Woohooo! I had plans for this review last week, but with the bed rest... you know how it turned out :)

Quick update about me. First, a big thank you for all the comments and encouragements! It's really heart-warming to know that there are people who care :) So, unfortunately, the dizziness is not completely gone yet. The good news is that it hasn't worsen either. I read online that some symptoms can last a few weeks after the injury... so I'm figuring that the dizziness will go away on its own eventually. I have a family doctor appointment next week, so I'll talk to her about it and if anything feels abnormal or get worse, I'm heading to the emergency right away. Although I gotta say, this morning, it felt better! Not gone, but less. I'm also taking it easy at work and going to try to limit my reading and blogging and so on. However, there's no way I'm going back to veg :( I also plan to resume curling this week. So you have it, the latest with me :)

Onto the review now!

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
published by Hyperion in October 2012
Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Series: Heroes of Olympus, Book #3/Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book #8

The Story: The Mark of Athena starts off where The Son of Neptune left off, with a delegation of Greek demigods consisting of Annabeth, Piper and Leo, as well as Jason, arriving at Camp Jupiter aboard Argo II. Both camps are still suspicious of each other, but know that Hera/Juno has gone through all this trouble for some reasons and come to a consensus on the seven demigods who will undertake the Great Prophecy/Prophecy of the Seven: Percy, Jason, Annabeth, Piper, Leo, Hazel and Frank. However, the truce comes to an abrupt end due to a misunderstanding and our seven demigods are forced to flee Camp Jupiter. Now, their journey to the ancient lands is even more critical because not only do they have to stop Gaea from waking and creating havoc, but the success of their mission will also prevent a war between the two demigods camps.

However, as usual, things are not simple. Just before making their escape, our group of demigods gets a new prophecy... and this means a detour to Rome to save Nico who's been imprisoned by the giant twins. Also, Annabeth has been tasked by her mother, Athena, to avenge her by following the Mark of Athena... A mission that countless demigods before Annabeth has failed. Our heroes also cannot count on the help of their gods because a lot of them are out of commission, busy fighting headaches brought on by their Roman and Greek personas. And as usual, they only have a few days to succeed...

My Opinion: I really enjoyed The Son of Neptune and as a result, was anxiously looking forward to The Mark of Athena. As soon as I got the book, I simply devoured it :) As you can imagine, the expectations were quite high. All in all, I do think that Mr Riordan delivered with The Mark of Athena as it was enjoyable... but I feel the book could have been more.

One of the best parts of the book for me was Annabeth. I'm actually not a big fan of Annabeth, I always felt she was a bit too "know-it-all," too stuck-up, too conservative... However, in The Mark of Athena, I found her more likable. I feel Annabeth has softened up and it suited her well :) Part of it is her maturity, but another part I believe is Percy's influence on her. It was a good change especially since we finally got Annabeth's POV for the first time and I have to say, I enjoyed it. I thought she was interesting. Still very smart, but more approachable. It also made her storyline more interesting because I was rooting for her :) I gotta say, at first, I was a bit skeptic at how much this book would focus on Annabeth. Yes, I wanted to read Annabeth's POV, but there's a big difference between wanting her POV and wanting her to be the central element of the book. In the end though, Mr Riordan did a good job at balancing out the storylines and yes, Annabeth's mission was important, but it didn't steal the show. Not only that, but Mr Riordan was very subtle with Annabeth's role throughout the book and that really fit with her character :) In any case, it was nice to see Percy and Annabeth reminisced about the past, to see how strong their relationship has become. They really complement each other very well :) The reunion between the two was very sweet and so is the ending of The Mark of Athena, in a way.

As usual, The Mark of Athena is full of clever and funny elements such as the idea of the Greek/Roman schizophrenia that some gods suffer. It's a really good idea and I loved how the gods that only had one persona (Greek or Roman) or the ones where both personas were so similar in function such as Nemesis were unaffected. One of my favorites was Bacchus/Dionysus with the Pepsi/Coke relationship. It was so clever. And of course, some of the situations and how Mr Riordan mixed in the Greek and Roman mythology made the book :) Oh and I also really liked that Mr Riordan answered the Leo/Sammy question and didn't let the readers wonder and speculate too much. That would have been really annoying... although I have no idea what it means in the future for Leo, Hazel and Frank.

Also, The Mark of Athena was very action-orientated. It was really one adventure after another. That's usually how it is with this series' books... However, in The Mark of Athena, it didn't work as well in my opinion. Yes, it was still very fun and entertaining... but at the same time, it felt a bit too cartoonish. There wasn't much transitions between the adventures and that hurt the flow of the book. Especially after the first quarter of the book, it was simply non-stop. In addition, for logistical purposes I assume, Mr Riordan had to split the group of seven demigods into smaller groups for these adventures. So very rarely were the seven demigods together. And that's where I think Mr Riordan missed his chance to make The Mark of Athena more memorable. I think he should have focused more on developing a dynamic, a trusting relationship between the characters than the adventures. I wished we've seen the characters interact and bond more with each other, to overcome the Greek/Roman prejudices as well. Oh it was somewhat still achieved in the book, but it lacked something in my opinion to be totally believable. I felt the trust they were able to establish was too reluctant, in the sense of "we're in this together, I don't have a choice" instead of it being truly genuine. Also, I would have liked to see more of Jason and Percy dealing with each other, the two leaders cooperating. As I said, there was some, but more would have been better :P

Finally, my only negative about The Mark of Athena was Piper ^_^; I'm really not a fan of hers and I could have done without her POV. There was so much going on and there she was, worrying about her relationship with Jason. It didn't help that we didn't have Jason's POV in this one, but I can bet that her doubts were unjustified. Perhaps I'm being mean, but in comparison to the other characters, I felt she didn't bring much to the story.

My Grade: B. The Mark of Athena was entertaining and enjoyable :) It would have been even better if there had been more chemistry, more cohesion between the characters. Overall, I thought it was better than The Lost Hero, but not as good as The Son of Neptune... hence the in-between grade :) Looking forward to the next book! Hoping to get Nico's POV this time around!