“I am here because when all else fails, when all the other mighty gods have gone off to war, I am all that’s left. Home. Hearth. I am the last Olympian.”
Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers for all of the books in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. If you haven’t read this series in its entirety, you should get on that. Then come back, and we can discuss it!
So friends, I’ve been experiencing a book hangover for almost a week now. I open new books. Close them. Stare off into the distance. What am I supposed to do now that this amazing series is over? And boy, did it end with a bang. The Last Olympian was everything I could have hoped for from a finale. For this book alone, I’m so glad I gave this series a chance.
The fifth book begins with Blackjack the pegasus (also known as the love of my life) landing on Percy’s car, casually informing him that the war is starting. We’ve jumped an entire year, so Percy’s 16th birthday is a few days away – you know, the birthday from the great prophecy. If those two sentences tell you anything, it’s that Riordan wastes no time jumping into the action in the last installment. From page 1 to page 381, there isn’t a lull in the action. All of our questions are answered and all of the conflicts resolved.
My favorite thing about The Last Olympian is that we get so much backstory on topics that have been pushed under the rug for most of the series. The pieces of Luke’s past that we witness through Percy’s dreams are some of my favorite scenes from all five books, and the addition of the Oracle storyline proved a fascinating way to give Rachel a purpose that I actually appreciated. Learning the darned prophecy that we’ve been waiting to hear since the second chapter of book one was also satisfying, if a little underwhelming. I was thrilled that the prophecy doesn’t end up applying to Percy. I love how Riordan consistently turns the expected outcomes of his words on their heads.
All of the characters show up in The Last Olympian, and it was a pleasure to see them all in one place. Even the newer characters and side characters have important roles to play, and I was surprised by how connected I felt to all of them. When Beckendorf dies, I was genuinely upset – forget that I’d barely paid his character mind for 4 books. Prometheus is also such an interesting character, and I hope we see more of him in other books. Also, Nico was growing on me during The Battle of the Labyrinth, but he stole my heart in this installment. I’m so happy that there’s a Hades cabin and some Hades appreciation now, and Nico better show up in Heroes of Olympus.
The battle scenes are really intense, and it was exciting seeing Percy’s powers grow to the point where he could fight a titan using a water tornado. The final scene between Annabeth, Percy, and Luke is also so emotional. Even though the only death is the expected one, it’s still heart wrenching to read.
Riordan’s ability to erase the notion of “bad guys” is something I feel doesn’t happen enough in middle grade stories, and it was much appreciated. Percy struggles throughout this book, acknowledging that the titans, half-bloods, and minor gods have genuinely good reasons for wanting revenge on the Olympians. And at the end, Luke really is just an angry kid who got in way over his head and later regrets it. I was happy that this book ends on a compromise, with the gods making vows to claim all of their children and give the minor gods some recognition.
Finally, Percabeth slayed me. There are so many amazing moments between the two of them in The Last Olympian, and I was squealing nonstop. The best of these scenes is probably when he dives into the Styx, and she’s the piece of his humanity that manages to drag him back to the surface. And the ending is too adorable to process. “I am never, ever going to make things easy for you, Seaweed Brain.” They are relationship goals. Period.
My only complaint about this book is that it’s over. I gave The Last Olympian a 5 out of 5 star rating on Goodreads, and I’d probably give the series a 4 out of 5 stars overall. These are some of the best middle grade books out there. I can’t recommend them enough.
Have you guys read this series? What did you think of it?