I haven’t died. Or been maimed beyond being able to type. I have been away at conferences, away at Dale’s new church helping get everything set up, and away in Capstone writing land. All that (metaphysical) traveling has left not a lot of time to read, but I managed to squeeze in a little bit. So here we go.
The House of Hades by Rick Riordan is the fourth book in “The Heroes of Olympus” series (which makes it really the ninth book in the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, but oh well). The book picks up right where The Mark of Athena ends, and not for the first time, I worry about my ability to remember series plots as an adult. Maybe I was much better at it as a child or maybe I just haven’t read a lot of series as they were published, but I have the hardest time remembering who is who outside of my favorite characters, and I certainly can’t remember what’s going on outside of the broadest stroke.
Okay. So, Gaea is bad. And she’s waking up the giants, and she’s going to destroy the world. Annabelle and Percy have been sucked down into Tartarus (think hell’s hell). However, they can get out if they can make it to the Doors of Death that empty out into the House of Hades (an avalanche of alliteration if ever there was one). The other five members of the merry band are flying the Argo II to clear the way at the other side of the door. Clearly, this is not as simple as it seems.
This book shows one of Riordan’s finest talents: taking myths and fragments of stories and spinning them into whole characters. And after eight books of doing it, one would think that he was almost scraping the bottom of the barrel, but he still comes up with some good stuff. Enchanted bandits, magic turtles, poison cows, zombie armies, and infinite other beasts magical and plain. But some of the strongest scenes play out with characters that have already been and gone. Calypso, the sorceress who lives on an island that no one can leave, makes a reappearance, and one of the intrepid heroes falls in love with her. So expect a daring tenth book rescue in the name of love.
Which brings me to troubling YA character time. Nico, son of Hades, loner, dark spirit, and my favorite character, comes out as explicitly gay (or at least bi) in this book. I have a feeling I sensed this in an earlier book, but that may be confirmation bias at play. It’s a little four page scene, doesn’t really have much to do with anything. Basically, Nico liked Percy, but because he knows that will never ever ever happen, he gets real grumpy and standoffish. Also, he doesn’t want anyone to know his LGBT status. Now, nevermind that it’s 2013 and that I think this should be less of a big secret deal. However, I can’t help but noticing that Nico is the only main character without any sort of relationship going on. Because in non-LGBT specific YA lit, it’s okay for people to be gay…just not with other gay people. Maybe I’m reading too much into it (probably), and I’m in a bad mood right now, so take that for what you will.
As all kid’s books, this one reads fast, all the problems are solved nicely, no one who would be billed in the movie dies, and massive odds are overcome through cleverness and perseverance. Like in every other book in this series. But if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
JMF Rating: 6.5/10
‘Til next time,