In Rick Riordan’s second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series, The Son of Neptune, Percy has no memories—except a single name, Annabeth. He finds himself at a camp, but he is sure this isn’t the right place. Still, when told he must go on a quest to help the Roman demigods, he cannot bring himself to say no. He, along with his new friends Hazel and Frank, have four days to defeat a rising giant, or else watch the world be destroyed.
As a fan of Percy Jackson for years, this reread of Neptune was wonderful. Seeing from Percy’s point of view again is great, especially after the somewhat jarring new perspective of Jason in the previous book. Percy, unlike Jason, is an old friend. He’s the same sarcastic, capable, and relatable protagonist as ever. Newcomers Hazel and Frank are fantastic friends for him—as are minor characters like Reyna and Hylla—with their own backstories, heritages, and sets of skills that serve to not only advance the plot and provide new viewpoints, but also to expand Percy’s world profoundly.
Hand in hand with Hazel and Frank comes the revelation of a new world, that of the Roman gods and demigods. Before this point, everything in this universe has centered around Greek mythology, so the introduction creates a new layer of complexity. I love learning about the Roman camp, Camp Jupiter, and seeing the sharp contrast between it and Camp Half-Blood. Jupiter is much more military and regulated, while Half-Blood feels more like a crazy summer camp. However, Jupiter also opens our (and Percy’s) eyes to the possibility of growing old, having families and careers, outside of fighting mythological monsters.
However, the explanation of how the gods have different, Greek and Roman “aspects” of themselves, is a little vague and confusing. I understand from a historical perspective (after all, the Romans did appropriate and evolve Greek myths to reflect their own values and beliefs), but from a practical perspective, I feel Riordan could have been more clear. Do they literally undergo physical transformations? Are they aware of what they do as their Greek selves when in Roman form, and vice versa? Can they be in two places/be both aspects at once?
That aside, I enjoyed this book more than The Lost Hero. Perhaps I’m biased toward Percy, or perhaps I liked learning about the new camp. But I also think this plot is less meandering; it has an evident goal the entire time, and everything the kids do is geared toward that goal. This feels less like a setup/expository book and more like a self-contained adventure with its place in a wider story arc.
In the end, The Son of Neptune is an excellent adventure that accomplished both world building and character development without sacrificing any of the entertainment and wit Riordan is known for. I love the main characters and their journeys, and cannot wait to start my reread of the next book!
Overall rating: 8.4/10