Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “rick riordan”

ambern’s #CBR4 Review #25 The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan

This is the final book in the Kane Chronicles and as ambivalent as I have been about the series I think I’m a little disappointed that there are not going to be more installments.  Sadie is still annoying but I do enjoy the Egyptian mythology and hope that he uses the same idea with another set of characters.  The ending is pretty open so I wouldn’t be surprised if Riordan chooses to do just that.

Just eight months after discovering that they are the latest in a long line of magicians, Carter and Sadie Kane are about to fight chaos itself.  Apophis is set to rise on the Autumnal Equinox, which is in just three days.  The magicians are divided: some believe that the Kanes are destroying Ma’at and are trying to undermine Amos’s leadership and those that do stand with the Kanes are being destroyed by Apophis’s minions.

Carter and Sadie are having trouble with their allies as well.  Walt is close to death and they are no closer to a cure for his hereditary disease, which is made worse each time he uses magic.  Zia is also acting strangely and has been unable to control her fire magic.  Add to that the usual problems that arise when dealing with the gods and the inexperience of their remaining recruits and it seems unlikely that the end of the world can be prevented.

As I said, Sadie is still annoying.  I will never understand why Riordan had to make her so grating, but I liked the book despite her.  The series is wrapped up well but still open to the possibility of another series.  All of the threads come together as they should, if a little predictably.  Overall a good, but not great book and I remain curious to see if Riordan decides to create another Egyptian mythology series.

narfna’s #CBR4 Review #47: The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan

I love the Percy Jackson series. It’s great for what it is (kid’s literature). Rick Riordan isn’t the world’s best writer, but his books are entertaining and educating at the same time, and the PJ series in particular has an engaging plot and characters. Most of what he’s written after that series has felt kind of redundant to me, not only in plot, but also in the way that he structures both individual books within a series and the series as a whole. The Heroes of Olympus is a continuation of the Percy Jackson universe with new characters mixed in, and besides a little bit of repetition, it’s pretty great. The Kane Chronicles trilogy — of which The Serpent’s Shadow is the third and final volume — has been much more problematic for me the whole way through.

The Kane Chronicles follows brother and sister Sadie and Carter Kane, who are descended on their father’s side from the Egyptian pharoahs. They also happen to be magicians and hang out with Egyptian gods on a regular basis. The big villain of the trilogy is the god Apophis, the chaos serpent. The big quest in The Serpent’s Shadow is for the kids and their team of fellow magicians to find a way to defeat Apophis’s plan to swallow the sun and turn the forces of chaos loose on the universe. The plot is pretty standard, and I bet you can guess how it all turns out, but where The Serpent’s Shadow fails (and I think where the whole trilogy fails) is in the way Riordan brings that story across. Book two show marked improvement over book one, The Red Pyramid, so I had high(ish) hopes for book three. But The Serpent’s Shadow ended up being almost as disappointing as book one.

In addition to not really caring about any of the characters, I was completely turned off by the framing device, which involves Riordan pretending that Sadie and Carter would stop and take the time to painstakingly “record” their story conveniently in the style of children’s novel on some battered audiocassettes or something. This was cheesy for the first two books, but at least it made some sort of sense, as purportedly Sadie and Carter were recording this in case something happened to them and they didn’t make it out alive. Obviously, they made it out alive from The Serpent’s Shadow, if they’re making the recording, so what’s the point? Nothing, except Riordan being cutesy and giving himself the excuse to have Sadie and Carter “adorably” interrupt one another whilst recording. I wish it had just been a straight up book-book, you know? Not to mention, hi! Spoiler! They make it out alive! Happy ending! And with the exception of a truly creepy solution to Sadie’s love triangle problem (she’s in love both with Anubis the god of death, who appears to her in the form a gorgeous leather-clad seventeen year old boy, and with her fellow wizard, Walt, who is dying of a King Tut’s curse, King Tut being his ancestor), the book is just really kind of predictable.

In the case of the mythological gods universe that Riordan has created, I’m starting to think that more isn’t more. The more “epic” stuff he shoves in to his universe, the less epic the stories actually feel. One of the reasons I loved the original Percy Jackson series so much is that it felt kind of intimate and cozy to be a part of that world, but each of his successive books have just had more and more stuff stuffed into them that there’s barely any room for coziness at all. Hints that The Kane Chronicles actually exists in the same fictional universe as Percy Jackson and Company should get me excited, but really it just makes me nervous. The idea of combining the Egyptian gods with the Roman/Greek ones somewhere down the line is intriguing, but I’m not exactly sure Riordan could pull it off. He does his best work with a small cast of characters, with one or two major plot threads. I have a feeling that any Kane Chronicles/Percy Jackson crossover would end up just being another example of even more plot stuffed into even less space, with less room for all the stuff that I love about these universes he’s created.

Katie’s #8 #CBR4 Review: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief is one of the few YA novels I’ve read lately that I felt was really worth the hype.  The book was well-written, fast-paced and very enjoyable.  The narration reminded me a little of the Septimus Heap series, although I had a hard time putting my finger on the reason.  It isn’t quite as off-the-wall hilarious as the Septimus Heap books sometimes are, but there’s something about it… I think it may be that both books prevent some rather unbelievable events in a very matter-of-fact way.  Whatever the reason, I really liked the narrative style in this book as well.

Read more here…

loveallthis’s #cbr4 review 03: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

(cross-posted from my blog.)

“Yer a half-blood, Percy.” – nobody in this book, at least not literally

Harry Potter’s obviously changed the world of fiction for the better. (Hey, anything that gets non-reader kids to love books is cool with me. Except Twilight.) I can’t help but wonder, though, if Harry Potter hadn’t been written, would the world of YA fiction be a little more, shall we say, diverse?

I mean, it must be hard, as a talented writer of books for young people, to stand up to one’s editor and say “I don’t want to write a story about a young boy who discovers he’s The One and has to battle a series of magical creatures alongside his plucky young lady friend and hapless young guy friend. I want to write about anything else.” But kids and Chosen Ones and magic are now a proven formula. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Rowling wrote the book on this formula – ha, ha – but she certainly brought it front-and-center recently.)

I’m late to the Percy Jackson party, so as a very brief summary to the six of you who haven’t read the books – and without really spoiling anything – Percy is a precocious though academically troubled twelve-year-old who learns over the course of one magical summer that the world is much grander than he imagined, and that he must play a special part in saving it. He teams up with Annabeth, an athletic and brave young woman with daddy issues, and Grover, a shaggy well-meaning teenager, to travel across the country and unravel the mystery behind a brewing war before it’s too late.

The Lightning Thief was a quick (I mean it – 377 pages in just under four hours, which was fast, even for me) and enjoyable read. It’s the first in a series of five (plus a book 4.5, plus some Silmarillion-like companion volume) which has its own sequel series of five that’s only partway released. (Plus a 2010 movie directed by Chris Columbus [who directed the first two Potter films] which didn’t even make back its budget, despite which a second movie is in development. But I digress.)

If I had a twelve-year-old kid of my own who had finished the Potter series and wanted a little light reading as a cool-down, I’d certainly point her to this. It’s not particularly challenging – academically, linguistically, morally, or otherwise – and I’d imagine any young critical thinker would see all the major plot points coming a long ways out, but it was fun. I appreciated Riordan’s relentless didactic drilling of ancient history, Greek and Roman mythology, and his tongue-in-cheek treatment of their role in his version of our world.

The book gets a solid three stars – not exceptional, but if you’re a fan of the oh-so-Potter-popular “smart kid saves the world” genre, certainly worth four hours of your time. See it at goodreads.

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