Summary (from Goodreads):
At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy's instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through Gaea's forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors from both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape? They have no choice. If the demigods don't succeed, Gaea's armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus. This paperback edition will include a new short story in which Percy and Annabeth fight alongside Carter and Sadie Kane.
These books have been a blast. Seriously, Rick Riordan has set the bar high for middle grade fantasy. His stories are full of action, adventure, suspense, magic, mythological creatures, Gods, heroes, and now there is also Tartarus, evil creatures that won’t stay dead, giants, statues to guard, Romans to avoid battle with, and so much more.
It took me longer to finish this book than any of the others. It had nothing to do with the awesome story, and everything to do with a not-so good shift in narrator. I hate when narrators change mid-series. It took me so long to get used to the new voice of it all. And then once I did, I still never felt as fully immersed in this incredible world. He sounded very nasally and hipster, and sometimes his inflections for people’s voices were so off-putting, I’d be pulled right out of the story.
I wanted to finish these books by listening to them. It’s hard to switch mid-series or even mid-book to a different format. So, I think I will truck through the last one via audiobook too. It’s sad because I know I’d like it better if I read it, but I just can’t listen to four books in a series and then switch to the regular format. I just can’t. Though, I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading his new series. No more audio for me with these.
As I probably say with each new book I read in this series, the stakes are higher. The risks are greater. The drama is more intense. And everything is setup so nicely for the last book in the series (which I may have already started). These books just have some of the best action and suspense you can get. They are that good.
Do I still have issues with certain characters? Yes and no. I’ve started to really like Leo. I like that he gets his own romance of sorts. I like his relationship with the rest of the crew. And there are elements about him that are so Percy, so how can I not like him? It just took me until now to get that. Piper is still not my favorite character. I get that she’s a daughter of Aphrodite. And that she’s supposed to be thinking of romance a lot. I just find her so two-dimensional, and she’s in a cast of five dimensional greatness. I get to see all these great scenes were other characters bond, like Jason with Nico, or Percy with Annabeth, but I never really felt like Piper bonded with anyone. I don’t know. Maybe she’ll have her moments in the last book. I’ll have to see and reserve most of my judgment until I’ve finished it all. Also, I love Nico. I’m so glad he’s back in this series. And I’m so happy to lean he has a point of view in the last book.
It was really cool seeing Tartarus in this book. I’ve never read a book that takes place there. Also, I loved how Riordan is blurring the lines between who and what is good and evil. There’s good Titans, and friendly giants (and let’s not forget about an old friend whose a Cyclops). People and creatures aren’t inherently good or evil. Their choices and actions are what make them good or evil. And I like this concept. I like that it always seems harder for Annabeth to grasp this than Percy. She’s not perfect. And I love how they balance off each other in this one.
Overall, this was probably my favorite book in the series so far. I’m giving it a 9/10. It would probably have been a 10/10 if the narrator wasn’t so bad. I may have to end up reading these books the old fashioned way some day and then I’ll really know. I can’t wait to see how it all resolves in the last book.