Warning #2: This is a long review. Enjoy :)
Putting my thoughts both into comprehensible sentences and not giving any spoilers is going to be exceedingly difficult. Because really, my thoughts are nothing but a bunch of letter gibberish with more exclamation marks than what the internet deems acceptable. And guys, that’s a lot.
While there will be no spoilers for Mark of Athena, there WILL be spoilers for everything up to here. So, Lightning Thief through Son of Neptune. YOU ARE SO WARNED. I mean this is the 8th book here, are you surprised at this? You shouldn’t be. Last warning!
At the end of Son of Neptune, there is set up for this amazingly glorious, running-in-fields-of-flowers reunion and then... it cuts to black. Picture Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean saying “You’re a cruel man, Jack Sparrow” but with me to Rick Riordan. Yeah. So this book starts off with HIGHEST expectation of that running-in-fields-of-flowers reunion. And I gotta say, there were no flowers, but it was pretty stinkin’ perfect.
Now that that’s been resolved we could move on to the actual, you know, book. I have to say, that if you’re worried about your Greeks vs Romans, no worries. This is a Greek book. POVs alternate between Percy, Annabeth, Leo and Piper and after two books with some Greekness, it’s nice to get back to our roots. I do worry that House of Hades will be all Roman, but can it be with the title being “Hades”? Anyway, my nerdiness digresses.
I have to mention the demigod dynamic. So in The Lost Hero we met Jason, Leo and Piper. Then in Son of Neptune, we meet Frank and Hazel and we get our old favorite Percy back. Now add in Annabeth who we’ve known for 5 books previously and you have The Seven. Here’s the weird thing. After two books of set-up and spending time in each one of their heads, it’s like this giant meeting of the Masters of the Universe to see them all sitting at a table, calmly discussing how to save the world. Of course we’ve got Percy and Annabeth, Greek quest-veteran extraordinaires. Then Jason, who’s surprisingly better in this book, but still a bit cardboard-y. Leo who’s kinda like Percy 2.0 with his brash humor but with Hephaestus power. Frank and Hazel who are both awesome and adorable in their own cutely quaint ways. And there’s Piper who I’m still waiting on to shine a little harder than she has so far, but she’s a sweetie regardless.
I’m hesitant to go into the quest details too much, because what I was originally going to say, a friend who pre-read this said it might be too spoilery, so here’s take two. The Mark of Athena (surprise, surprise!) is the main quest and there’s another side quest that I won’t go into but was stressful for poor me. If you liked Battle of the Labyrinth and its whole, quest-falls-on Annabeth’s-shoulders aspect, then you’ll dig this. Very similar in that way AND the Annabeth-Percy sweetness.
Oh, you want me to mention our old favorites, Percabeth? Oh, well there’s really not much to say. You know, they’re together and whatever and they’re PRETTY FREAKING AWESOME! You know that feeling when you see an adorable puppy and think ‘OMG. I DIE OF THE CUTE’? Yeah, no. Puppies ain’t got nothin’ on Percy and Annabeth. They're like Cory and Topanga cute and if that 90s TV show reference shows my age, so be it.
Speaking of relationships, I have to say that I feel like this is the first real YA-ish book of the serieses (serieii?); definitely a stronger focus on relationships and life and all that good stuff teens have deal with. Even the chapters lose their “episodic” Middle Grade feel and adopt a broader pan over the book. So while Riordan certainly adapts for his original Percy fans’ growth, he still keeps the humor and references to the earlier books so younger readers can still keep up.
Non-spoilery, slightly gibberish thoughts on the ending:
I had a friend who stayed up all night to read the download at midnight and I was warned about the Ultimate Cliffhanger Ending that will leave me in a ball, crying like a little baby. Well, there were no tears, but I think I hyperventilated for the first time ever. That’s a new one even for the serious fan reader such as myself. Because I was SO WORRIED about this epic ending, I prepared myself for The Absolute Worse and even Epically, Insanely Nonsensical Endings. Like, we learn that Percy is actually in a crazy house and these were all massive delusions. Don’t worry, that’s not the end. That’s the end of a Buffy episode.
But because I prepped myself so much, I was shocked and awed that the ending (while completely gut-wrenching) is utterly perfect. I mean, if you’re reading this review, you must be a long term fan and there’s just no way you won’t find this perfect. But it’s also one of those endings where you might as well be put into a coma for a year, because waiting for what happens next is going to be next to impossible. I might be coping with this by listening to the audiobook now.
Other recommendations: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand. And don't miss Jennifer's reviews of the other books in the Heroes of Olympus series: The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune.