“Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related for better or worse…and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.”
Disclaimer: This review does contain spoilers for both The Lightening Thief and The Sea of Monsters. If you haven’t read them and plan to, I’d recommend doing that and coming back afterwards.
The Sea of Monsters, the second novel in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, follows Percy through his second year at Camp Half-Blood. Not that he’s there for very long. Upon his return, he discovers that Thalia’s tree, which protects the camp from unwanted visitors, is dying. The most logical way to save it seems to be retrieving the Golden Fleece to heal it. Thanks to several distress calls from his friend Grover, Percy knows exactly where this is: an island in the Sea of Monsters, guarded by a vicious cyclops. He and Annabeth take on this journey, against their teachers’ wishes, traveling south to find the fleece and save Grover.
I enjoyed this sequel far more than The Lightening Thief. Plot-wise, The Sea of Monsters is still full of trials that must be overcome throughout the story. The difference is that these trials actually feel relevant to the end goal of the book (and to the series as a whole). Percy does still defeat most of these with minimal effort, but the transitions between scenes felt less choppy to me.
Percy discovers that he has a cyclops half-brother early on in this story, something I initially wasn’t crazy about. However, Tyson proved to be one of my favorite characters in this book – he added some much-needed comic relief to the group of characters on the quest. It was also fun to watch Percy’s character growth in regards to him. The problem with main characters is that if they’re already likable at the beginning of the story, sometimes they don’t grow. You’re already heroic and all that jazz, why bother? But Percy’s conflict with accepting Tyson as his family made him feel more human, and it gave him an area in which he could grow. Watching their relationship form was adorable and wonderful. The relationship building in this book is A+ material.
Clarisse also receives an added layer of depth in this book, something I’m extremely relieved about. I scrawled in my notes for The Lightening Thief that I found it unfortunate that a bigger girl, who supposedly isn’t attractive, is set up as a bully and essentially labeled “bad.” While blonde and pretty seems to be associated automatically with good. Cue the eye-rolling. But by the end of The Sea of Monsters, I’d learned to admire and empathize with Clarisse, just as Percy had. The scene where he gives her the fleece and tells her to take it back to Camp Half-Blood and fulfill her quest was so heartwarming.
It’s fitting that much of this book takes place on the water, whether the characters are riding hippocampi, sailing a boat, or fighting on an island. Since Percy is Poseidon’s son, these settings gave him an opportunity to embrace and practice his powers. Plus, they made for some intense fight scenes – I’m thinking particularly of the boat-blowing-up part. I really thought Tyson was gone for a few chapters there.
The ending of The Sea of Monsters was fantastic, and it threw quite a wrench into what seemed to be a predictable hero story. Thalia’s return to Camp Half-Blood will not only be a major point of conflict in regards to the prophecy, but it could also give Kronos exactly what he needs to destroy the Olympians. The idea that Percy and Annabeth played directly into Luke’s and Kronos’ hands was a shocking reveal, and I thought Riordan did a good job keeping it under wraps until the very end.
That’s all I have to say about The Sea of Monsters. (Okay, it probably isn’t, but this post is getting long.) I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. This series is gradually growing on me, though I feel I missed the age marker with certain things. Still, I’m excited to continue on with this series and find out what happens.
Have you guys read it? What did you think?