The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
Summary from Goodreads:
Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.
And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?
Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.
With The Mark of Athena, Rick Riordan did not disappoint in creating his usual fantastical re-imagination of Greek and Roman Mythology, tying it to pop culture to make the archaic more current. Here we come across a whole new slew of mythological figures and events turned into something one could perceive in the present day. Think ballerina giants, Iphone wielding nymphs, and the fall of Rome via Wonder Bread. Sure, one might probably think the re-imagination is a bit over the top, even the dialogues might be on the too sarcastic side at times. But it's fun! And most importantly, it work's for me. I wouldn't be surprised if middle graders know who Archimedes is, or Mithras, or Arachne for that matter.
I also appreciate the dynamic created by the author, between the seven demigods. There is that hesitation and guardedness among Jason's team and Percy's. And yet it transitioned to complete and utter trust among themselves that they are willing to risk their lives to save each other.
I also like the added complication of not just a single quest but a myriad of little ones spring from them. Like a Hydra's head. Solve one problem and a bazillion sprouts from it. Kill the Giants. Save Nico Di Angelo. Find and restore the Athena Parthenos statue. Bring together Greeks and Romans. Save Camp Half-blood. Save Olympus and Save Mankind. That a whole lot of other personal obstacles each of the characters have to overcome on their own. There was a tendency for confusion but nothing that I couldn't handle. :)
Another thing that I learned about Rick Riordan from reading his Percy Jackson series and now The Heroes of Olympus series is that it is adventure centered, fast paced and fun. The Mark of Athena is still all those things but there seem to be more romance in it. Not the subtle ones that I am used to in his works but it was more of the in your face kind. Quite too mushy and touchy feely for my taste. Teehee. I had no problem with Frank-Hazel-Leo trio through. Perhaps it's the authors way of showing that they are now growing up. Let's blame it on hormones. :)
All in all, it was a brilliant read, another satisfying installment in a series that has become a favorite. I am eager for House of Hades, which will only be out in October 2013. So, if you have any suggestions to stave off my hunger for Greek/Roman Myth retellings do let me know.
Award Winning Books Reading Challenge (hosted by Gathering Books) Entry no: 25