(The Heroes of Olympus, Book Four)
by Rick Riordan
'The demigod crew of the Argo II is standing at a crossroads. They could return home with the Athena Parthenos statue and try to stop Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter from going to war. Or they could continue on their quest to find the House of Hades, where they might be able to open the Doors of Death, rescue their friends Percy and Annabeth from Tartarus (if they have survived), and prevent monsters from being reincarnated in the mortal world. Whichever road they decide to take, they have to hurry, because time is running out. Gaea, the bloodthirsty Earth Mother, has set the date of August 1 for her rise to power.
Join the demigods of the prophecy as they face their biggest challenges yet in The House of Hades, the hair-raising penultimate book in the best-selling Heroes of Olympus series.'
*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
You know I've been enjoying all of the Percy Jackson books. One thing that I'm pleasantly surprised by is that I'm consistently liking each book. Usually a series will bomb for me after the first book. Not these Percy Jackson books though! I do wish I'd have read this one faster, more efficiently, because I think I might have liked it a bit more if I'd really plowed my way through. Still, I really did like this.
Once again, it is the Percy and Annabeth storyline that I really loved about the book. Their story continues to grow more solid and serious while the rest of the cast provides a sort of comic relief. At the end of the previous book, Percy and Annabeth had fallen into Tartarus, the heart of the Underworld. The rest of the demigods don't even know if the two survived the fall, so how can they decide what their next move should be? Do they take the statue back to Camp Half-Blood and try to stop the smaller war between Greeks and Romans? Do they take the statue to Greece and prepare for the larger war, the final battle? Or do they try to find the Doors of Death and close them so monsters will stay dead? If they don't close those doors, there is no hope for them in the final battle because they'll never be able to kill the monsters. Plus, if they can find the Doors, they can maybe also find Percy and Annabeth.
They need to get to those doors. So the remaining crew sets off an adventure, and in their parts of the story things get a little busy and cluttered. You know I don't like that. It was sometimes hard to keep track of who needed to go where and for what. It was kind of like they each had a mini-quest to get or do something to prep them for what's still to come. That's fine, but some of it just seemed so . . . dumb. Frank and the poison cow creatures? What the heck was that all about? Piper continues to be the weak spot, almost the joke of the group with her lack of skills and her food shooting cornucopia as her weapon. I had to laugh when Piper was left to face Khione, and the snow goddess ridiculed her by saying pretty much everything I've been thinking about her. And I still don't feel any bond or special vibe between Piper and Jason.
Meanwhile, Percy and Annabeth DID survive the fall and are now on an adventure to make it through Tartarus, find the Doors of Death, and hope their friends are on the other side to save them. They get help from some very unlikely sources along the way, and there are some absolute tear-jerker moments towards the end of the book. I just love their parts of the past two books!
While I did enjoy this book, I wish it would have been a bit shorter by cleaning up and streamlining the side stories of the other characters. I'm very much looking forward to the next book, the final one in this series.