Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Review - The Sea of Monsters

Original Title: The Sea of Monsters
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: April the 1st, 2006

Publisher: Hyperion Books

THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

I loved this book! It’s even better than the previous one, and I really hope this saga only gets better and better. It had me laughing, and gasping, and passing the pages not wanting to stop. In fact, when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking that I wanted to go back to it! I love when a book does that.

Once more, Rick Riordan proved himself brilliant, blending the old Greek myths with the 21s century’s reality. This time, he takes us to the Sea of Monsters, where Percy, Annabeth and their new friend Tyson face an Odyssey of their own, going through all those dangers the heroes of old went through on their sea voyages: Circe, the sirens, Scylla and Charybdis… everything within the Bermuda Triangle, in an amazing way to explain some of its mysteries, that mortals simply can’t see or understand by themselves. I loved the way Riordan depicted the Sea of Monsters and the perils they encountered along the way to retrieve the Golden Fleece from Polyphemus, who’s holding Grover captive, and had me laughing out loud! Poor Grover, he wasn’t having any fun, but still, his scenes trying to dodge Polyphemus were so much fun! And it was great how Riordan managed -very cleverly- to adapt a part of Penelope’s tale -Odysseus’s wife- to Grover’s. Well done!

However, there’s something I couldn’t help noticing, and I simply have to mention it. In order to save Camp Half-Blood, Percy, Annabeth and Tyson go on a quest to find the Golden Fleece. At some point, Annabeth tells the Fleece’s story, and perhaps there’s another version of it, but I noticed it is the wrong one. She says Cadmus and Europa were saved by the ram with the Golden Fleece, but that’s not how the story is, and I’ve read it enough times to know it very well. The real story involves the twins Helle and Phrixo, children of Athamas, king of Boeotia, and Nephele, a cloud nymph. Athamas, after divorcing Nephele, marries Ino, a woman who grows to hate her stepchildren, and plots to get rid of them. She burns the crops and bribes some men to lie about an oracle that dictates that, in order to avoid famine, Helle and Phrixo must be sacrificed. But before they can be killed, their mother sends the ram (which is said to have been sired by Poseidon and Theopane, a nymph) to rescue them, and it takes them flying away. They are warned not to look down to the Earth as they fly, but Helle, however, does it anyway, and in her fear, she falls from the ram, and drowns in the sea that later takes her name, Hellespont (Sea of Helle). Phrixus, however, survives and reaches Colchis, where finally King Aeetes gives him his daughter Chalciope in marriage, and in return, Phrixo gives him the Golden Fleece, which the king hangs in a tree in his kingdom, bringing prosperity.

I just had to mention it; mythologically speaking, it is wrong. The story Annabeth tells mentions Cadmus and Europa, that actually are brother and sister, but they have nothing to do with the Golden Fleece’s myth. Actually, she’s another of Zeus’ lovers (and the one from which Europe took its name), and he is a famous monster slayer, each of them with their own myths. But still, it is a minor detail and the story can be understood the same, it doesn’t take away the fact that the book is awesome.

My problem is that, being still a Greek mythology freak (although less enthusiastic as I used to be at thirteen, or fourteen), I knew some things the characters didn’t and when they came out were less surprising as they were intended to be, like Chiron being Kronos’ son. But I simply have to stand up and give a loud applause to Rick Riordan, because of the awesome fact that he was able to make me laugh with a character as terrible as Tantalus. Lets face it, his myth is probably one of the cruelest, but even so, his bad mood and his attempts to catch food had me laughing out loud, and even more through Percy’s eyes: “That was so completely unfair that I told Tantalus to go chase a donut.”. And also “Tantalus made a wild grab, but the marshmallow committed suicide, diving into the flames.”. Really well done, Mr. Riordan!

The book is amazing, and I’ll never get tired of saying so. The ending is a perfectly mean cliffhanger that will make me grab the third book as fast as I can. This series only gets better and better, and it reminds me why I love fantasy so much! You are never too old for stories like this, and I recommend it all of those people who haven’t read it yet! Go for it, you won’t regret it!


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