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Book Review: ‘Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Sea of Monsters’ by Rick Riordan

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Percy Jackson & The Sea of Monsters is the sequel to the fantastic novel Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. The first book was an undeniable success amongst readers when it originally hit shelves. Its captivating exploration of the world of Greek mythology mixed with the modern-day stories had a big impact on the future of this franchise, and the landscape of youth-adult novels at the time it came out.

I was so surprised when I read the first book that I couldn’t wait to lay my hands and eyes on the sequel. So, strap in and join me on another adventure to Camp Half-Blood and the world of Greek Demigods in the second book featuring Percy Jackson and his friends. And prepare for the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series coming soon to Disney+.

[Warning: Spoilers from this book and movie are below!]

Percy Jackson’s story is more mature and intriguing in The Sea of Monsters

The central plot of this book revolves around Percy’s quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece, a mythical artifact that holds the power to save his beloved camp, Camp Half-Blood, from imminent destruction. The story begins with Percy Jackson, our half-blood demigod hero, experiencing a mysterious dream in which his friend Grover is hurt by a monster. This moment kickstarts a series of events leading to a quest to save Camp Half-Blood.

At the beginning of Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters, we get to meet another son of Poseidon, and Percy’s half-brother Tyson. He’s a Cyclops who tries to act normal and just like Percy to make his dad proud. His relationship with Percy is very weird and distracting in the beginning, but it evolves with time and adds a dynamic element to the whole narrative.

While they’re in Camp Half-Blood, there’s an attack that weakens the protective spells by poisoning the tree of the demigod Thalia. This leaves our heroes vulnerable to future monster attacks. Chiron is accused of poisoning the tree and is fired. But before he leaves, Chiron tells our heroes that only the Golden Fleece could save the camp. After this attack on Camp Half-Blood, Percy decides that he, Annabeth, and Tyson will travel together to retrieve the Golden Fleece. Grover is not with them as he travels to find the Greek God Pan a.k.a. God of the Wild.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

But they aren’t the only ones who are after the Fleece. Clarisse LaRue, the daughter of Ares is chosen by the new camp counselor Tantalus to find the Golden Fleece. He forbids anyone else from leaving camp without his permission. Our trio decides to have a talk with the god Hermes about the fate of his son Luke, and everything that happened in the first book. Percy decides to leave camp with Annabeth and Tyson to find Grover, who’ll help them in finding the Fleece.

When our trio reaches the Princess Andromeda, they find out that it’s a cruise ship filled with monsters and demigods that allied with the titan Kronos. On the ship, they are captured by Luke and learn that he decided to work with evil creatures to revive Kronos. The trio escapes the boat and finds shelter in a hideout that Annabeth, Thalia, and Luke built as children. There, a hydra attacks them, but they are saved by Clarisse.

To save the camp, Percy decides to not work with Clarisse and convinces Annabeth and Tyson to escape. After some very awesome events that I won’t spoil, they finally find Grover. It’s revealed that during his quest to find Pan, he got kidnapped by the Cyclops Polyphemus who thought he was a female Cyclops. They find a Golden Fleece, but it’s only just the beginning of some crazy adventures.

Rick Riordan’s merging of Greek myths into modern stories works really well

The concept of merging ancient Greek myths with modern-day stories, at least for me, adds more layers not only to the storyline but also to the immersion of the reader. Riordan not only made it a thrilling adventure for teenagers, but also a clever and brave exploration and exposition of the timeless themes of heroism, friendship, and self-discovery. It’s a very good decision that Riordan made while writing this book.

Riordan’s use of classical references and clever nods to Greek mythology adds richness to the overall storytelling. This makes the Percy Jackson books both educational and entertaining at the same time. In this book, Rick Riordan continues to prove his mastery of writing stories for everyone, not only teenagers. His storytelling combines stories taken from life and puts them in a mythological scenery with impossible events surrounding them.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Episode 102 (Disney+)
Walker Scobell in Percy Jackson and the Olympians Episode 102 (Disney+)

With an engaging plot, well-developed characters, and a perfect balance of humor and action, this book is a must-read for fans of the series and anyone who enjoys a captivating adventure in the world of gods and monsters. When I compare Percy from the first book to this one, I see that he has already fully accepted who he is. He became more mature (for a 13-year-old), brave, and more careful. The same goes for Annabeth who became more comfortable and even more loyal to her friends, which for me gives her important character development.

The introduction of new characters, including Percy’s half-brother Tyson, a Cyclops, refreshes the dynamic between characters. Tyson’s innocence and feeling of loyalty to his brother bring out the compassion in Percy. That’s where their relationship becomes one of the more important aspects of this book. I think that sometimes moments like this are the point of the story, and not just about finding the big old Greek God McGuffin.

Villains like Luke Castellan and the whole threat of the Titan Kronos who is the most important being in early Greek mythology stories, didn’t meet my expectations. When you read this book, you may understand what I mean, but for me teasing a very important character like this, and doing with him what they did feels wasted. Their working together was meant to give us a feeling of the coming and inevitable doom, but what I felt, even in the end, was wasted potential. Of course, at this moment I don’t know what happens in the next book, and I may be wrong about my own interpretation of these events, but that’s how I feel about it currently.

The movie adaptation of The Sea of Monsters is a whole different story

Before I read The Sea of Monsters, I decided to rewatch the movie, and oh boy, was that a mistake. At first, the movie is very different. Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) is part of the team looking for a Fleece from the beginning, Percy (Logan Lerman) lives in Camp Half-Blood year-round, Tyson (Douglas Smith) and Percy meet for the first time at the camp, Grover is sent to Polyphemus by Luke (Jake Abel) and more. But there are two differences that made me really negative towards the movie after reading the book.

One of them is the important talk between Hermes and Percy. In the book, he appears to Percy on the beach and gives him some gifts. They have an important talk that is necessary to help Percy on his quest both mentally and physically. But in the movie, one of the main quests is to visit Hermes (Nathan Fillion) at the UPS store which is a disguise for the Olympic Postal. It’s more of a comic relief rather than an important part of Percy’s development. But at least Nathan Fillion was great.

Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson
Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson in ‘Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters’ (20th Century Fox)

The second one is nerfing Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) to being just a pretty face. In the book, she’s shown to be a very capable warrior with knives and a cap of invisibility, and she can handle herself. But in the movie, all those items magically disappear and she’s more of a “hero’s girlfriend” rather than a character of her own.

I don’t want to talk that negatively about this movie, because I had fun watching it for the first time. However, when I compare it with the book, I see how much they cut or changed. That’s why in this case it’s better to either wait for the Disney+ series where they have time to delve more into the things the movies couldn’t, or just read the books and only watch the first movie.

Final thoughts on Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Sea of Monsters

Percy Jackson & The Sea of Monsters is a very satisfying sequel to Rick Riordan’s first book about the Son of Poseidon. His ability to mix classical Greek mythology with the modern world really works for me, and as a fan of Greek Mythology, I really enjoyed all those Easter eggs. This book is full of adventure, friendship, and self-discovery. And just like in the previous book, characters resonate with readers of all ages, and that is just fantastic.

As a reader experiencing Percy’s journey in the books for the first time, this novel gave me a very immersive and satisfying experience. In some way it even allowed me to feel like a kid once more and connect with the characters on a deeper level.

My rating:

8.5/10

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan is available now! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccicus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you’ve read this book or planning on reading it before the new series arrives on Disney+ this December.

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Wiktor Reinfuss

Big fan of all sorts of pop culture stuff. I also enjoy ambitious cinema. Games, music and graphics are all within my interests. I have a great fondness for the Arrowverse series, especially The Flash.

Wiktor Reinfuss has 127 posts and counting. See all posts by Wiktor Reinfuss