In The Lost Hero, the first installment in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, Jason wakes up with no memory of who he is. Then, when a strange creature attacks, he along with friends Leo and Piper discover they are much more than just troubled kids—they are demigods. Jason’s amnesia is tied inextricably to this fact, and to (hopefully) regain his memories, he must go on a quest, one which will have ramifications for demigods everywhere.
I remember the first time I read this in high school, wondering who everyone was and where, exactly, Percy had gone. Luckily, that’s precisely how the reader is supposed to feel, assuming the reader has already read Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Seeing these new leads, with no indication at first of where any familiar faces are, is jarring but also somewhat refreshing. We get a fresh perspective on Camp Half-Blood and the gods. Jason serves as an interesting change from Percy, and Piper and Leo make a great team with him.
I also love some of the diversity present in this. Leo is Hispanic, and has spent the past several years struggling through the foster care system, while Piper has grown up with her semi-absent Hollywood father while grappling with what it means to be half-Cherokee. These are two groups we hardly see represented in mainstream, and I’m so happy to see them treated with such respect and sensitivity here.
A lot of the plot hinges on traveling, seeking the wind spirits and fleeing other beings who are after them. Though this isn’t a huge departure from the Percy series, it feels more meandering to me here. However, we do get to see some new figures from Greek mythology, as well as bump into the Hunters of Artemis, so it’s not all bad. Furthermore, some of Jason’s backstory is teased, widening the world of modern mythology. Unfortunately, this entire narrative seems very much like mere exposition to a larger arc, rather than a self-contained tale. Most of the Percy Jackson books, while all contributing to and building onto the overall conflict with the Titans, still had smaller stories which were completed by the end of each book. The Lost Hero doesn’t have that, which to me is kind of frustrating.
In the end, The Lost Hero introduces several strong leads, reintroduces old friends, and kicks off an intriguing, high-stakes storyline that promises to expand in the future novels. It isn’t the strongest book Riordan has written, but it still is hugely entertaining.
Overall rating: 8/10