The Lost Hero (Book One of the Heroes of Olympus)
So some time ago I listened to the audio version of the opening novel in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan: The Lost Hero. I had previously listened to all of Riordan’s earlier series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and while I enjoyed the series well enough I did occasionally find it frustrating. However, Riordan’s ability to creatively weave ancient Greek mythological beings into modern day culture was more than enough to offset my frustration with characters that were more than a decade younger than me. In a clever bit of work the title of the novel could be referring to the main character of Riordan’s previous series, Percy Jackson, who is currently missing in action. However, at the same time the titular lost hero could also refer to the amnesiac Jason who is also, in a sense lost.
Thankfully, while The Lost Hero falls into some of the same pitfalls as earlier books, it is leaps and bounds ahead of the previous series in terms of quality. The Lost Hero opens with a boy named Jason who awakes on a school bus with no real memory of whom he is or who the people around him are. He is quickly reintroduced to his best friend, a goofball named Leo, as well as his love interest named Piper. It quickly becomes apparent in the opening chapters that Jason, Leo, and Piper are all half-bloods; the mortal offspring of the Gods. Over the course of the novel we learn more about Jason’s amnesia, while these new characters uncover the newest threat to the mortal world. Needless to say these three new heroes mark the first of prophesized seven mentioned in the final pages of the Last Olympian.
In truth the thing I loved most about this novel was the character of Leo. Maybe I have something of an affinity the loveable screw-up class clown archetype; a Peter Parker or even a Brodie Bruce. Of course of Leo was only a jokester he would not have been nearly as engaging a character. Thankfully he isn’t and his joking and pranks hide a real pain and tragic past not to mention obscuring the true hero beneath his grime and grease covered exterior. All of the main character in the previous novels fit quite easily into classic teenage stereotypes (the impetuous rebel in Percy, the smart girl next door in Piper, the lovable goof in Grover, etc) with The Lost Hero our new heroes have a bit more meat to the them; personal drama that resonates a bit stronger than in the previous series. Jason’s memory issues, Piper’s family problems, and Leo’s troubled past all work for me to help form a clearer picture of who each of these new heroes are.
Riordan also ratchets up the action in The Lost Hero. Where in The Lightning Thief, Riordan takes his time in introducing Percy and the world of Camp Half-Blood, The Lost Hero takes off at a sprint with constant threat and wild adventure around every corner. If you thought Riordan exhausted his repertoire when it comes to mashing up Greek mythological figures and modern day society you are completely wrong. In particular the section with Aeolus was rather twisted with its blend of mythological role and modern reflect; some memorable stuff. Also, there is a clockwork brass dragon; that alone might have sold me on this book even if I had read the previous series.
The Lost Hero, like just about every series book ever, leaves you wanting more. I definitely find myself looking forward to the next volume in this series more than the Percy-centric series. The Heroes of Olympus feels like a slightly more nuanced work, not anything a subtlety complex as Young Adult fiction, Riordan’s work still exists in that strange place between Juvenile Fiction and the Young Adult fiction but definitely stronger and more mature than his previous novels. If you were a fan of Percy Jackson than you should not hesitate to pick up The Lost Hero even if Percy is MIA. If you missed out on Riordan’s earlier work you can jump on here but I think the reader that will enjoy this one the most is one more familiar with the previous work. Adult readers will likely find this light but enjoyable reading and is definitely the type of thing one could enjoy reading with the whole family. I’m eagerly anticipating The Son of Neptune coming this October.