(The Heroes of Olympus, Book Three)
by Rick Riordan
'Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy, it looks like Camp Jupiter is planning for war. And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket, Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving command: '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. Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways and no longer needs his old friends?
Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await.'
*** MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS ***
While I wasn't thrilled with this book being nearly 600 pages, I did enjoy the story. This is the third book in the Heroes of Olympus series and while it does follow a similar format (prophecy, quest, side-quests, and secrets) there are some differences. First, our group now consists of seven demigods and that crazy satyr Coach Hedge. The group is a mix of Romans and Greeks who must learn to put aside differences and work together. They're not dealing with a new prophecy this time. They're still working on the big one, the whole Gaea is waking and the world is ending thing. The thing they're focused on this time is finding and closing the Doors of Death. But wait! They also have to find Nico, who went missing while on his own mission to find those door. And then of course there has to be a secret that's burdening one of the demigods. This time it's Annabeth.
Some things that irked me about this book . . .
The lack of urgency really started to bother me in this one. It's been there before but I think in this book it just finally had me wanting to scream at the characters. I mean, they claim to be racing against time to find Nico and get to Rome to find those doors. So why then, do they always leisurely call for meetings 'later today, after dinner' or 'meet back here by sundown'??? I would think there would be some frantic planning while wolfing down something quick to eat, or 'split up and find so-n-so as fast as you can and meet back here as soon as possible!' Why are they taking the time to polish saddles and clean stables and have long evenings of staring at stars?
The larger group of characters was a bit much. It was harder to keep track of whose point of view particular chapters were coming from. It seemed some characters, some things didn't get the time they deserved. Each character had a useful reason for being in this story, and in the end it wasn't bothering me quite as much.
Piper struck me as such a wimpy, mopey, whiner in this one. Was she that way in the previous books?! She was one that could have been left out of this whole story. It seemed like the main thing was to show her insecurity about Jason's possible feelings for Reyna, who he'd worked closely with back at Camp Jupiter. She was insecure and probably jealous of Percy and Annabeth's more solid relationship, and kept trying to see herself and Jason like them. She just really didn't seem to serve much purpose in this one. And I hate the way Jason calls her Pipes. It seems more like a father to daughter pet-name than a boyfriend-girlfriend one. It seems like something in a much closer and stronger relationship. And it would be more enduring if he didn't do it all. the. time.
Having gotten my small gripes out of the way, there are things I really REALLY liked about this book. The Percy-Annabeth storylines are becoming much more serious and adult. Well, not adult in that they're having sex or anything like that. No. Their relationship is becoming much stronger, much more mature. While the other characters still provide the comedy and fantasy, these two are becoming very real and serious characters. Percy is getting tired in many ways. He's physically tired from all the adventures, but he's also getting mentally drained by all that's going on. He's sick and tired of being a demigod, and one of the most powerful at that, and having people rely on him. He wants to just have a normal life for a while, which is why that demigod city by Camp Jupiter is so appealing to him. He's developed some fears and anxieties, some doubts that he's not as good as people think he is. And he really just can't bear to be apart from Annabeth anymore.
Annabeth has grown too. She starts off the book as quite a little bitch. She's hugely defensive and territorial about Percy, extremely jealous of Reyna and wondering if Percy's feelings have changed after spending time with this other girl. I could understand her feelings at the beginning but I really didn't like her. By the end of the book though, I was in tears by how far she'd come. Her solo quest might be my favorite thing in ALL of the Percy Jackson books so far. The writing is stellar in those parts. The feelings of fear and loneliness, of hopelessness, and then determination really come across. Little things like looking back at the sunny sky one more time before stepping down into a dark passage . . . There is none of the goofiness of Leo and the flaming dragon head, or silliness of some of the magical things. And then that ending! Ohhhh, when Annabeth asked Percy to, well, do what she asked, it was so sooo sad not only because she saw it as a hopeless situation but because she was just plain ol' tired and in pain. And when she realized what he was going to do . . .
Grab your tissues, people.
The stronger parts of this book make up for the things that bothered me, and I think this might be one of my favorites out of all the Percy Jackson books so far.
If you've read this one, what did you think???