Hi Virtually Readers! I feel like I only ever review contemporary on here, even though I obviously read other genres as well. So here’s a review of a fantasy book just to shake things up a bit.
Title: The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: YA/MG Fantasy
Themes: Friendship, Gods, quests, being mortal like everybody else, haikus
Basic idea: Apollo wakes up in a rubbish tip. He figures that Zeus has turned him mortal, and he must go through some trials to get back to his correct Godly state.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. Let’s talk about some of the elements:
The plot: I thought it would be typical Riordan demigods-go-on-quest-and-almost-die-then-get-back-also-there-are-jokes. BUT IT WASN’T. You know how all the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus books centre around a prophecy? This one doesn’t. Because the oracle isn’t working (see title: the Hidden Oracle). So interestingly, it’s more like Camp Half Blood is the base. All the action basically happens inside Camp Half Blood grounds, and they’ll go and almost die, then come back and recover, then repeat.
Apollo: HIS EGO THOUGH. I really liked his narration. He starts off being like all egotistical (there was a quote to the effect of: I was beginning to question my sense of self worth. But that was crazy talk). Basically, he has a really big head, which was just hilarious. And over the course of the book, he begins to realise that maybe even his godly self wasn’t as great as he was remembering. The character development wasn’t subtle, but it was there. His voice was really distinct, which I appreciated. Also, he was so fond of his children it was adorable.
Meg: Apollo’s demigod master. She was really awesome and funny. I didn’t see the plot twist with her coming at all, but I must admit some of her decisions just didn’t quite match with the character she was introduced as. I mean, I get that she was lying about something, and was acting and all, but still. Anyway, her relationship with Apollo (he usually addressed her as ‘The young McCaffery which I found hilarious) was great.
All the Percy Jackson cameos: Nico+Will. That is all. Also Percy trying to get serious and pass high school and study for his SATs and DSTOMP etc., also Chiron, also Rachel Elizabeth Dare, also XXX and XXXXXX who turn up at the end AAAAA finally yay hooray no more silly cliffhangers.
Camp Half-Blood in winter: YASSSS thank you. Although even if people are demigods, I really cannot imagine how any sensible adult, especially an immortal one like Chiron, would allow events like a ‘three-legged death race’. Because death is bad. (And one point Apollo’s imagining this amazing dramatic scene where he says something important then gets stabbed in the back. Then he’s like ‘wait. I’m mortal. Murder would kill me.’ EXCUSE ME WHILE I DIE LAUGHING.
The Oracles plot, catch-88, etc: YESS.
However, a few things didn’t work for me. Namely, the scene during the death race where Apollo is stuck with Meg and is near Delphi and is like ‘ooohhh I can hear my enemy’ and almost dies but escapes. Because it doesn’t make sense? Like, we know that Apollo is scared of Python, but why did he not die. (Speaking of people not dying, I swear that these demigods are made extra strong or something).
Also, it was one of those plots where Riordan was basically like: Remember the Titans and the Giants and Gaia? Well actually the same bad guys were behind both these events, and they’re even worse than the other bad guys, and Apollo needs to fight them. I feel like the other bad guys were bad enough that Riordan didn’t need to eclipse them with more badness, you know? Maybe it was just me.
The beginning was a bit slow.
One other thing: There were a lot of pop culture references, from Snapchat to musicians. Like, I get that it’s relatable? But I think a good story should be a bit more timeless and understandable for people at least a decade before and after it’s publication.
Overall, I really enjoyed trademark humour and action and greek+roman mythology. Will definitely continue the series.
Have you read this? Do you want to? How do you feel about excessive pop culture references? Was this review too long? (answer: YES)