Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Last Percy Jackson: Satisfactory yet not Quite Epic

Riordan, Rick. The Last Olympian. New York: Hyperion, 2009.

After the slight disappointment of The Battle of the Labyrinth, I was a little hesitant about Riordan's fifth and final Percy Jackson book. My fears, I confess, were unfounded. While not quite an epic of ancient Greek proportions, The Last Olympian builds clearly and cleverly upon characters, prophecies, dreams, and expectations established in The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, and the Titan's Curse. While a few of Riordan's quirky tricks seemed a little tired out by the middle books of the series, The Last Olympian moves so quickly that any frustrations one might have with the language and repetition are completely swept away by this book's relentless pursuit of a very exciting and captivating conclusion. The Last Olympian delivers on numerous promises made in previous foreshadowings, and kept me completely engaged from its first sentence through to the ending. I'm appreciative of this skill, and would recommend this series, almost, on the merits of The Last Olympian itself. However, although Riordan does use an occasionally irritating number of interjections to bring hypothetical new readers up to speed, I wouldn't recommend beginning the series at Book Five, although it certainly is the best, since doing so would defeat the point of Riordan's carefully planned foreshadowing.

Perhaps my greatest appreciation for this book arises from its elements of surprise: what is not foreshadowed (and there is a good bit) is unexpected and introduced elegantly and simply. Few readers, even the best students of ancient myths, are likely to identify the Last Olympian until the identity of that deity is revealed in a particularly well-crafted scene. On the other hand, this revelation, once made, seems the most natural thing in the world. The plot of this volume is deftly unfolded in Riordan's deftly crafted narrative, and The Last Olympian provides the perfect conclusion to this series as a whole.

No comments: