The Sea of Monsters picks up several months after the first book, The Lightning Thief, ends. On Percy’s last day of seventh grade, a group of creatures attack him in gym class. He and his new friend, Tyson, flee after reuniting with Annabeth, fellow demigod. They return to Camp Half-Blood to find the tree that protects the borders is dying mysteriously. So begins a new quest, this time to save the demigod sanctuary before it’s too late.
The characters continue to be wonderful. We get growth on Percy’s side, as well as Annabeth’s. After their adventure in the first book, they are close friends and have some excellent banter as a result. Other characters such as Grover, Chiron, and Clarisse, are great to see again. I particularly enjoyed getting to know Clarisse better. And our new addition, Tyson, is wonderful—he’s sweet and sensitive, but also very loyal and brave. His interactions with Percy are well-written and give Percy a chance to learn something more about this world and also about himself.
This plot isn’t quite as original as Thief’s plot—this is basically The Odyssey for children, with some elements of the Argonauts’ quest thrown in. On the other hand, this is a perfect teaching tool: for children who have never read Homer before, telling them these adventures using characters relatable to them is brilliant. We see some of the major players from these stories—Circe, Scylla, Charybdis, Polyphemus—but without (most of) the violence and gore of the original tale. Further, we see how Percy and his friends react to these struggles, knowing how those who came before them did, which adds an interesting layer to the conflicts. This is also more humorous than Homer was originally, which is fun.
This might be a good time to mention this series helped me pass a university-level classical mythology class. Being tasked with reading The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and several Greek plays in a single semester was intimidating. Luckily I already knew the major plot beats and lots of the main characters from Riordan’s books. So this series really works from an educational standpoint.
In the end, The Sea of Monsters is a fine continuation of Percy Jackson’s adventures. This book offers character development, a high-stakes adventure, lovely new characters, tons of humor, and a child-friendly delve into some of the most famous Greek myths. The more I reread, the more I remember reasons I loved this series as a child.
Overall rating: 8.5/10