22 January 2014


Reading Diary: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

I looked down at the city. I could see almost everything from here--the East River and the Hudson River carving the shape of Manhattan, the grid of streets, the lights of skyscrapers, the dark stretch of Central Park in the north. Everything looked normal, but something was wrong . . .

"I don't . . . hear anything," Annabeth said.

That was the problem.

Even from this height, I should have heard the noise of the city--millions of people bustling around, thousands of cars and machines--the hum of a huge metropolis . . .

"What did they do?" My voice sounded tight and angry. "What did they do to my city?"

Now I know why so many people went nuts over Harry Potter a few years ago--because I'm going nuts over Percy Jackson right now! Last weekend, I reread The Lightning Thief and then powered through the next four books of the series as if they were made of oxygen and I were drowning. Remember the year when I couldn't finish anything? Well, this seems to be the year when I will be finishing everything!

Apparently, all I need to do is to recreate the conditions of my unexpected long weekend: an illness which kept me from work for an additional two days and a glitch which took out my Internet connection the whole time.

I turned to my friends. They looked stunned and scared, and I couldn't blame them. The shield had shown us at least three hundred enemies on their way. There were forty of us. And we were alone.

"All right," I said. "We're going to hold Manhattan . . . We need to guard the bridges and tunnels. Let's assume they'll try a midtown or downtown assault, at least on their first try. That would be the most direct way to the Empire State Building. Michael, take Apollo's cabin to the Williamsburg Bridge. Katie, Demeter's cabin takes the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Grow thorn bushes and poison ivy in the tunnel. Do whatever you have to do, but keep them out of there! Conner, take half of Hermes' cabin and cover the Manhattan Bridge. Travis, you take the other half and cover the Brooklyn Bridge. And no stopping for looting and pillaging! . . .

"Silena, take the Aphrodite crew to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel . . ." I closed my eyes, trying to think of what I'd forgotten. "The Holland Tunnel. Jake, take the Hephaestus cabin there. Use Greek fire, set traps. Whatever you've got . . ."

The last time I had a weekend of reading that was this epic, I didn't know that there was such a thing as the Internet. And that makes sense. You see, the real problem with going online isn't having to deal with all the distractions; it's becoming a distraction yourself. If I had had Internet access last weekend, I would have been busy livetweeting Pope Pius XI's encyclical Casti Connubii and taking notes for a Reading Diary entry on Jean Webster's novel Dear Enemy . . . too busy even to think about reading an entire five-book series. Yet none of it would have been work I really needed to do. 

Of course, self-inflicted "busyness" isn't the only culprit. There's also that hang-up I've had since my brothers outgrew read-aloud in the evenings: a fear of reading alone . . . of finishing a fantastic book and finding that there is no one to share the experience with. Well, I finished five fantastic books over the weekend, all by my lonesome self, and I feel great!

Accordingly, my reading challenge of the year will be to read what I want to read and to stop worrying about getting others to join me. (This will surely affect the "Two or Three" Book Club, but I'm not yet sure how . . .)

But it's impossible to read in a vacuum, and I'll admit that the crowning glory of my reading marathon was the look on my brother Camera Man's face when he saw, for the first time, just how fast I can read. Until last weekend, he was the only member of my family who had never seen me inhale a novel, and he was simply floored at the feat. My Percy Jackson and the Olympians boxed set was his birthday present to me, and if you had asked him, last year, to estimate how long it would take me to get through all five novels, he might have said a month. (LOL!) I've told him he can get me a boxed set of the spin-off series, Heroes of Olympus, for my next birthday. =P 

This post isn't really a review of Rick Riordan's series, but I'm already planning a future post about one thing I really loved about it. More of that blogging busyness, I guess, but the draft practically wrote itself in longhand, so I feel good about it. =)

Image Sources: a) The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan, b) Map of Manhattan Bridges and Tunnels


love the girls said...

I just recently listened to the last two books, is it just me, or is the story starting to get repetitive?

What do you think of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova?

One of my favorite passages in literature is the first paragraph of Chapter 20:


Enbrethiliel said...


Well, nearly every book involves a quest, so the series can't help following a formula. May I confess that I really enjoy formulaic Middle Grade books? =P It even bothered me a little that Rick Riordan splits up the original trio in the sequels, giving Percy different companions for each quest; and I wondered whether Riordan did it not necessarily because the stories called for it, but because he also didn't want to be writing the exact same quest over and over again. At least we get a big battle at the end of the fifth book to change things up a little.

I haven't read The Historian yet and really don't know when I'll get to it, but of course I'll remember your recommendation. =)

love the girls said...

I was thinking more along the line that the humor and vignettes are starting to be repetitive in a way that is starting to drag.

When I think about it, most authors have written the same story over and over again, and what is different about most of the modern authors is that as opposed to writing the same story over again their books are installment of a long story. Clan of the Cavebear versus Edgar Rice Burrows.

Enbrethiliel said...


Watch out, LTG! You're dating yourself by making The Clan of the Cavebear your modern example. ;-)

I find that I really like this new trend. One thing which frustrated me about the Middle Grade offerings of my youth was how disjointed the stories eventually became.

love the girls said...

I am an oldster, and remember seeing the series on the display stand at the front the mall book stores when I was in highschool.

I didn't read it until about 20 years later when I was told it was a good example of modern fiction that can be used to know history, somewhat like Kristen Lavransdatter. It's very forgettable whereas Kristen Lavransdatter remains one of my favorites.

I listed Clan of the Cavebear because it's the earliest, or one of the earliest of the modern trend. Kind of like Rich Man Poor Man is the first of the commercial TV mini series. And equally forgettable in comparison to I Claudius or Brideshead Revisited.

Sheila said...

The last books I devoured were The Hunger Games trilogy. I ate them up. I read the first one, and then discovered to my chagrin that the second one was checked out! But when I got the next two, I believe I finished them both within 48 hours. I neglected so many other things to do it, too! But there's something to be said for really entering a book, so that anything else you do in that time is just an interruption.

Enbrethiliel said...


LTG -- I don't think I'll ever get to Clan of the Cavebear, but I do have Burroughs's Barsoom novels lined up for April.

Sheila -- It truly is wonderful, isn't it? =D I haven't done something like this since I was in uni--and given all my responsibilities these days, perhaps that's best. But I had forgotten how great it feels and had believed that I'd never do it again, so it was nice to have this throwback and to see that there are still some books in the world that can make a jaded adult feel like a kid again! ;-)

DMS said...

I really enjoyed this series, too! I thought the way he made mythology come alive for kids was so cool (as an adult I loved it too). I am glad you were able to devour the series and that you enjoyed it so much. I saw Rick Riordan speak at a local library a few years ago and he read the first chapter of The Last Olympian (it was coming out a few months later). It was awesome to hear him do the voices and it was fun to hear him explain where is ideas came from.

So far I have read the first book in the next series with Percy and friends. I look forward to reading the rest! :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Rick Riordan seems really cool! I wish I could meet him, too. =)

I'll get started on the next series in December because I want to wait until all the installments are out.