The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)
by Rick Riordan
After a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson is finding his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson, a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any normal friends. But things don't stay quiet for long.
Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: the magical borders that protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters, the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millennia. Only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name: The Bermuda Triangle.
Together with his friends, Percy must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family, one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.
This 2nd book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series suffered a bit from the Sophomore Slump. I liked it, but it lacked a little bit of the magic for me.
It's like this:
Basically, the first book was wonderful because it was unexpected. I thought it was going to be a cheap imitation of Harry Potter, and though there are similarities of course, it held it's own. It was funny in a slightly edgier way, and Percy really stood out as his own character. I liked the self-discovery and the problems he faced, and the dangers were fun because I could see the ties to mythology without being hammered over the head with them -- they fit in an interestingly quirky way.
With this one, though it was fun and funny, Percy is more discovered than discovering, the dangers he and his friends phased were...predictable and too easily defeated, and it all felt a little more Deus Ex than I would have liked. (And yes, I know it's a book about gods, so there's really no avoiding the Deus, per se... Still, though.) But more than that, there was just an indefinable something that I just wanted and didn't get.
But that being said, I still highly recommend this series (so far. I mean, I'm only 2 books in.) These things that I mentioned I don't think would be picked up on by kids. And maybe it's just that the shininess wore off. When you get past that, they are really fun, slightly quirky books that make great use of mythology to open that world to kids and let them use their imaginations. What's great, too, is that even though the storylines they use are ancient, the books themselves turn them into something that feels very modern and new. Riordan works the mythology into the present day in such a purely fun way that I have to give him credit. I still think, sophomore slump or no, that my myth-obsessed mind would have been fairly obsessed with these books as a kid.
*You can find out more about the books, play games and watch trailers/videos at http://www.percyjacksonbooks.com/