The Titan’s Curse
By: Rick Riordan
“IT’S NOT EVERYDAY YOU FIND YOURSELF IN COMBAT WITH A HALF-LION, HALF-HUMAN.
But when you’re the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.
Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive…”
~ From Goodreads
If you’re looking at the picture of the cover, notice the “Book Three” label at the bottom, and realize that I completely skipped my review for The.Sea of Monsters, you would be right. I’ve been struggling to get reviews out in general and I found that I didn’t have much to say about the second book that I hadn’t already said about the first book, unless I nitpicked at plot points which would inevitably lead into spoiler territory. I’m happy to say, however, that I really want to talk about The Titan’s Curse. I didn’t enjoy it as much as its two predecessors and I’m hoping that forcing myself to articulate my thoughts in a review will better help me to understand what about the story disappointed me. For die-hard fans of the series, I apologize in advance because there will be several instances throughout this review where I will probably bash your favorite character/plot point. Please don’t be offended because I do like the series as a whole so far and hope to continue enjoying it further down the road.
Things I Liked: Riordan continues to weave Greek mythology uniquely into his story, modernizing certain things, like Apollo’s Sun Chariot, and filling in “gaps” in the myths, like the missing Hesperides sister. While his plot may sometimes feel over full with Greek references, you can appreciate how much research Riordan must have done to understand how all the gods and monsters fit together.
Things I Didn’t Like: I started noticing about halfway through the book that the plot was beginning to feel very familiar. On closer inspection, I realized that the first three books have the same basic plot structure. Here is my satirical rendition of a Percy Jackson plot:
- Percy blows something (or someone) up out in the real world. Chaos ensues.
- Percy flees to Camp Half-Blood (Optional: Percy chased by Monster of the Week on the way to Camp Half Blood)
- Kronos’ minions or the Olympians blow something up.
- The Oracle makes a prophecy.
- A quest ensues. (Optional: Percy sneaks out of camp to go on the quest he’s not supposed to be a part of).
- Percy and the Gang make several pit stops during the quest and get attacked by Kronos’ minions and/or the Olympians.
- Percy and the Gang stop the Bad Thing from happening (Optional: Stop bad thing with sheer dumb luck).
- Bad guys escape.
- Rinse and repeat.
All sarcasm aside, I love a good quest story (I’m a fantasy fan, it comes with the territory) and repetitive conflicts aren’t always a problem either (see: Harry Potter). There’s just something in the Percy Jackson books that just doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe its because, up to this point, the books lacked something strongly cohesive to link them all together or maybe it’s the shoddy character development. Either way, something has got to change in the way the plot is constructed or I’m going to get really bored really fast.
The other thing I find frustrating is the shoddy (or lack of) character development. Maybe I’m grasping at something too complex for a middle school level series, but I find the characters are largely written as caricatures or they are so wooden, they could easily be replaced with a lamp. I noticed this issue in the first two books but it really came to a head in this book, probably because my two favorite (and arguably the two most interesting) characters were sent away for the majority of the book: Annabeth is kidnapped and really only makes an appearance at the beginning and the end of the story, while Tyson makes a brief cameo appearance. I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to get from the other characters. Poor Grover has been reduced to comic relief, Chiron is useless, Percy makes the same mistakes over and over again, and Thalia has some really inconsistent character development resulting in utter frustration for me as a reader. These characters are pawns in Riordan’s game and his machinations are far from subtle.
I should note again that despite all of my negative comments for this particular book, I still like the series as a whole, but it is very flawed. I still can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t love these books, but somewhere between the repetitive plots and the shoddy character development, Percy Jackson is lacking a wow factor to hook me in. I think I’m going to take a break from the series for a little while and come back after cleansing my palate with other books. Maybe I’ll find the books entertaining again with some time and space.