#1 in the Trials of Apollo series
Released: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
That's never a good first association word. But what can I say? It fits.
Sometimes having a good formula and sticking with it works out. And, sometimes, it doesn't. For me, in the case of Rick Riordan, I think it's time to either find a new shtick or quit while he's, well, we're not even ahead at this point. Maybe just quit beating a dead horse?
My gripes with The Hidden Oracle are the same gripes I had with The Sword of Summer: too much over-writing, too much over-reliance on the formulas of the previous books' plots and characters, shallow side characters, and a plot that chugs along with gasps and wheezes instead of engaging action. It was hard enough getting through the first book (though I liked it more than The Sword of Summer) and I couldn't imagine slogging through an entire five book series. There just isn't enough substance.
Going back to those side characters, in full disclosure I haven't read the Heroes of Olympus series. Maybe I should have? Maybe I would have cared about them? As it was, I could not care less about any of them. They were hollow nothing characters. They didn't even have enough substance for caricature status. They were just there, and so whatever perilous situations they found themselves in, it was a real chore to even try to muster up an iota of care.
And did we really need to trot out Percy Jackson again? Even Percy seemed to roll his eyes at his stale cameo.
Oh, and oh my gosh, the villain? No, just...no. Surely we can do better than this?
But what about Apollo himself? Overall, I liked Apollo's voice and he is definitely (finally!) distinct from Percy Jackson. His humor was also so, so bad, but instead of grating like it did in The Sword of Summer, coming from Apollo the awfulness of the humor just added to his character. I'm not sure if that was the intention, but it worked for me.
I enjoyed Apollo's bravado and how he grappled with humanity and his past. This added depth and entertainment, though it would have hit even harder had I cared about the other characters. Anyway, I'm in the "pros" part of the review, so...
Fans of Riordan's other series will probably continue to find enjoyment in the plot of this new series. It follows the same pattern of sedate adventuring, and even if it hasn't been pulse-pounding since the original series, it's entertaining enough in a lighthearted way. I mean, I did stick with it and finish the book.
I think it's time Rick Riordan and I parted ways. It was nice for a while there, but I'm bored now and in search of spark, which doesn't seem to be something I'm going to get from a Riordan book at this point. Apollo is what sets this book above his latest offerings and gave me a little hope, but ultimately the total package just isn't enough for me.
But, readers still enjoying his books will gobble up The Trials of Apollo with enthusiasm. It's more of the same, and while for me that's yawn-inducing, for many others that will be a selling point.