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Rick Riordan – The Battle of the Labyrinth

May 4, 2012

45. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan (2008)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4

Read my review of book:
1. The Lightning Thief
2. The Sea of Monsters
3. The Titan’s Curse

Length: 360 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 18 April 2012
Finished: 20 April 2012

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I’m totally hooked.

If Percy can save
the camp in time, it will be
a-maze-ing. Get it?

Summary: Camp Half-Blood is in danger once again, and its magical boundaries cannot protect it from the latest threat: an entrance to Daedalus’s Labyrinth sits in the middle of camp grounds. Convinced that Luke, at the behest of the Titan Kronos, is planning to invade the camp, Percy and Annabeth must lead a quest to find Daedalus, and convince him not to help Luke. Accompanying them is Tyson, Percy’s cyclops half brother; Rachel Elizabeth Dare, a mortal who can see through the Mist; and Grover, who is still searching for the lost god Pan. But Daedalus is hidden deep at the heart of the labyrinth he designed, and there are many dangers that lurk between the heroes and the end of the maze… not to mention Nico, the powerful eleven-year-old son of Hades, who still blames Percy for his sister’s death, and is using the labyrinth for his own ends.

Review: I was about to write that this book is just as fun and exciting as its predecessors in the Percy Jackson series, but I realized that was incorrect. It’s certainly just as exciting – the action is pretty much non-stop, and the book reads incredibly quickly – but the book has a few too many rather dark elements and complicated morality to really properly call it “fun”. It’s still got its funny moments, and little touches of zaniness even in some of the darker scenes (Nico using soda and fast food to summon the dead comes to mind), but as Percy grows up, so does the tone of the books. This maturity manifests itself not only in some of the plot elements (Daedalus in particular is a morally dubious character) but also in Percy’s personal life, and I enjoyed watching him try to navigate his increasingly complicated relationships with Annabeth and Rachel. (Which, I just realized there’s a bit of a parallel to navigating the Labyrinth, there. Nicely done, Mr. Riordan.)

There were a few parts of this story that I wasn’t crazy about, however. All of the books have been pretty episodic, in the way of most mid-grade/young-adult fantasy adventures. But in the case of The Battle of the Labyrinth, I noticed that episodic-ness a lot more. I suppose it’s a symptom of the shifting and changing nature of the maze itself, but I didn’t always feel like one adventure connected smoothly to the next, and so the end result seemed like a bunch of set pieces with only the most tenuous thread binding them together. I also noticed that Riordan is having to reach deeper and deeper into more obscure bits of mythology as the series goes on, which is fine by me, but might be lending to the fragmented feeling I got from this book. Also, while Riordan’s typically pretty subtle about the lessons and morals that readers are supposed to be taking away from his books (one of the reasons I like them so much more than most mid-grade fiction), I thought the Pan storyline was the exact opposite of subtle, and therefore came off feeling kind of artificial and distracting.

But regardless, this book did have a lot of good points, and in any case, I’m totally hooked like a fish; I can’t wait to find out how the story ends! 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Don’t start here, but the series as a whole is very creative, doesn’t talk down to its readers, and is a ton of fun.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

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First Line: The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2012 5:18 am

    I am glad you enjoy this series so much! I really need to read beyond book 1…

    • May 14, 2012 9:36 am

      Kailana – If you’re anything like me, you’re going to get swiftly hooked in…

  2. May 9, 2012 10:58 pm

    The episodic nature of Riordan’s books has been known to bother me…for what it’s worth, I think I recall the final Percy Jackson book as being more focused.

    And you’re right, the Pan plotline was more or less smacking the reader over the head with environmental activism, BUT–it was a Grover plotline, and Grover is my favorite. So I forgive Mr. Riordan on that one.

    • May 14, 2012 9:37 am

      Cheryl – Fair enough. I just thought that so much of the rest of the books are pretty subtle, so the head-smacking MESSAGE was even more out of place.

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