Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, God of the Sea, has woken from a very deep sleep and come face to face with two snake-haired ladies who refuse to die.
But they're the least of his problems. Because Percy finds himself at a camp for half-bloods, which doesn't ring any bells for him. There's just one name he remembers from his past. Annabeth.
Only one thing is certain - Percy's questing days aren't over. He and fellow demigods Frank and Hazel must face the most important quest of all: the Prophecy of Seven.If they fail, it's not just their camp at risk. Percy's old life, the gods, and the entire world might be destroyed . . .
I have been looking forward to reading this for pretty much a whole year, although it really does not seem like twelve months since I read the first Heroes of Olympus book, The Lost Hero. A word of warning before I go on though: if you haven't read that book yet then proceed with caution as this review may contain a few spoilers. Apart from the fact that I love Rick Riordan's writing, and that The Lost Hero was, in my opinion, a return to form after the slightly disappointing (for me at least) The Red Pyramid, one of the key reasons for my excitement regarding this book was its title. Anyone who knows a small amount about Roman mythology knows that Neptune was their god of the sea. In other words, Neptune is the Roman equivalent of Poseidon, therefore meaning that The Son of Neptune could mean only one thing..... the return of Percy Jackson!
Yes, PJ fans, your hero is back in another action-packed adventure, and I loved every moment of it. Despite my excitement about this book, in the back of my mind I guess I was a little worried that it would either a) not match the quality of the original series and/or b) feel like I had read it all before. I had nothing to be worried about: first off, the quality is as high as ever and secondly, Rick Riordan very cleverly prevents b) from happening by doing what he did to Jason in The Lost Hero, i.e. completely wiping his memory of all that had come before. He can remember his name, and he has a slowly fading memory of a girl called Annabeth, but that is it. And so we begin all over again.
The book starts at roughly the same moment in the Heroes of Olympus timeline as The Lost Hero ended. Percy is on the run in California, pursued by a pair of revenge-hungry gorgons who just refuse to die. His demigod instincts lead him to the entrance to a camp that he did not know existed, and despite the nasty sisters hot on his heels, he also manages to 'rescue' an old lady and take her in with him. Of course, in the world of Percy Jackson old ladies are rarely what they first seem, and in this case his rescuee is no other than Juno (the Roman equivalent of Hera, and someone who has at times been something of an irritating thorn in PJ's side).
Camp Jupiter is very different to Camp Half-Blood, with the layout and architecture all set out to emulate the style that was typical in ancient Rome. The set-up in the camp is also very different to that of its Greek equivalent. As would be expected with any society based upon that of ancient Rome, everything is very regimented, with the camp members sorted into cohorts, each with its own lead centurion, and all overseen by a senate and a pair of praetors. Naturally there is a good deal of suspicion towards Percy, however his taking Juno into the camp, and using his powers over water to aid the camp members in defeating the gorgons, means that he is quickly accepted into the fold, albeit with hefty dose of suspicion from some members, one of which knows Percy from a long time ago (and we are talking the earlier part of the original PJ series here).
Obviously if this whole story was set in Camp Jupiter then it might have been quite difficult for even Rick Riordan to keep things interesting, and so it is not long before Percy finds himself setting off on another quest, but with a brand set of friends that he needs to learn and to trust, and vice versa. The adventure that ensues is as good as any that we have read from Rick Riordan in the past, and even though there is the occasional mention or appearance of monsters and characters from Percy's past, it still feels very fresh and most definitely not predictable in any way. Hazel and Frank, the two new characters who are tasked with accompanying Percy on the quest both come with a both secrets and flaws, and these elements keep us guessing at the final outcome right up to the climax of the story.
I'm not sure this is my favourite Percy Jackson adventure, although it comes close. Although I am not generally a fan of stories written in the first person I am a huge fan of Percy's voice in those original five books, and in this book, which is narrated in the third person, he has to share the limelight with Frank and Hazel. As we know Percy already the author seems to assume that all of his readers have read the original books, and therefore in this story I found it a lot easier to engage with Hazel and Frank as their characters were developed so much more fully. This is not a criticism as at 500+ pages The Son of Neptune is already a pretty hefty tome and to have spent more time on Percy would probably have made it too long for its main target audience.
The Son of Neptune was published on 4th October and my thanks go to Just So for Puffin books for sending me a copy to read and review. If you have not yet read the original Percy Jackson series then you really should do before embarking on a journey with the Heroes of Olympus series.