A less exciting second instalment in the Percy Jackson series

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been dwelling over this review for a few days now, I have literally read 2 and a half more books since I finished this one and have reviewed those on the site before coming to review this one. I had read the first Percy Jackson novel in the series earlier in the year and liked it but I hadn’t felt an instant draw to pick up the second and so when I did I hoped it would offer me a huge incentive to keep coming back for more from the half-boy half-god son of Poseidon.

This was quite a quick, light read. I flew through it in just over a day but if I’m honest I could happily have seen this book have another hundred or so pages added to it because at times I felt that it lacked some of the expansive world of the first book. I wanted lots of Camp Half-Blood and instead we spend very little time there. No sooner have we arrived than we are off again on a Quest and so we skim the surface of one of the most enjoyable aspects of the world I liked in Book 1. We also have a very brief glimpse of Percy’s mom but she is mentioned only in passing and we don’t really return to this aspect of Percy’s world again in the book.

All the characters we fell in love with in Book 1 are back, Percy, Annabeth and Grover are the fantastic trio but here we find that one of the three isn’t present having still gone off on his own journey so Grover is absent for much of the book which is a shame. This is offset somewhat by the arrival of a new character, Tyson, a cylops who is another child of Poseidon and therefore Percy’s half-brother. Tyson is almost the saving grace of this book, he is sweet and childlike and innocent and it’s clear he is thrilled at finding not just a friend but family but Percy isn’t always so thrilled and their story is the high point of this book.

As for the adventure our hero goes on, in this book he is in search of The Golden Fleece because the tree that protects Camp Half-Blood is dying and evil seeks to destroy everything they hold dear, so they need to retrieve the Golden Fleece to restore the order and save everyone before it’s too late. To do this they need to cross The Sea of Monsters. This in itself was a good quest but throughout this book I just wanted Riordan to slow everything down just a little, take his time and build the tension a bit more slowly.

Everything seemed to be flying off so quickly, our hero would lurch from one disaster to another and unlike book one there wasn’t so much time to pause and expand the story emotionally as we went along. Instead we are so focused on the action that by the end I wasn’t sure I had invested my heart into the quest as much as I should have. I didn’t feel I’d had enough Annabeth and Percy and Grover moving forward together as friends as I’d expected. I wanted them to grow together and I’m not sure they did.

I liked the book, I’m not sure if this had been the first book in the series I’d have been keen or felt invested enough to return for a second round. The only thing keeping me coming back for more is the glimpses of brilliance I saw in book one. I know Riordan can write great drama and emotion as well as the action and I’m sure that this series would not be so acclaimed unless we could expect more of that as the series goes on. I will be giving book 3 a try but I could only give this one 3 out of 5 stars.

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Crown of Midnight raises the bar in the Throne of Glass series to a new high

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I’ve hit my good reads target for 2017 I needed to have another focus to drive my reading till the end of the year and so I’m now trying to get through as many books in series I’ve started before the end of the year to try and increase my completed sets of series before the year is out. Having just started Throne of Glass a few weeks ago I decided now was the ideal time to delve back in and read Crown of Midnight, the second book in the series, before I forgot too much about it.

I enjoyed Throne of Glass and the story of Celeana Sardothien, the girl assassin who won the competition to become the King’s Champion and his trained killer. Picking up immediately after the end of Throne of Glass we follow Celeana as she begins her new job and the demands the king makes upon her to dispatch his ‘enemies’ on his behalf. All is not as it seems though as Celeana is struggling with the job as she begins to find that those she is sent to kill are not bad people but simply those who are trying their best to stop the power hungry King of Adarlan’s ongoing monopoly of their lands and the death and destruction his power brings.

Struggling with her conscience we follow Celeana as she continues to build her friendships back in the Glass Castle. She is growing closer to the Head of the King’s Guard, Chaol, and their feelings are moving towards something more than just friendship. Her best friend, Princess Nehemia, is helping her to understand the terror’s that face her people now the King of Adarlan has taken over their lands and finally she is trying to stay away from the Crown Prince Dorian who she doesn’t want to lead into danger through a close relationship with her.

This book was absolutely non-stop action. From the very first chapters it had me gripped. I liked Throne of Glass but Crown of Midnight really raised the bar on this series for me. I hadn’t grasped what the hype around this series was really all about till I read this second instalment. Whereas book one spent quite a bit of time world building and had lots of characters who came in and then left again as part of the competition to find the King’s Champion in Crown of Midnight we have a more tight knit cast, most of whom we have met before and we are all about expanding their stories and knitting them all together more.

This book was a reasonable read, at about 440 something pages but I read it in just over a day, sitting up to the small hours of the morning finishing it because I literally could not put it down. Every time I thought I’d caught my breath and it was calming down it would be off again in another direction full speed ahead. It has magic and mystery from the first book and we continue to explore the mysterious Wyrdmarks and how they link to the world of the past and present. We have a kick-ass heroine who is amazing to read about because you almost never quite know what she is going to do, you just know that it will be awesome. There is backstabbing and intrigue in the court of Adarlan, questions over who can be trusted and who cannot and that is one of my favourite aspects of the books. Finally there is a wonderful romantic element with the ongoing relationships Celeana has with both Chaol and Dorian.

The book ends with a really stunning revelation which sets up book 3 wonderfully and raises the excitement levels for what will happen next. It gives us a glimpse that the next instalment will expand the world even further and introduce even more aspects and characters than we’ve had before, including some Fae!

This book was really good, I liked it so much more than book 1, it hit all the points I needed it to and reassured me that this series does have the potential to live up to A Court of Thorns & Roses. It is a thoroughly deserved 5 out of 5 stars for this one.

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