Monday, July 18, 2016

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan's young adult novels always promise a day of escape into a world of mythology and humor. The Hidden Oracle, the first in The Trials of Apollo, offers both as we see the god, Apollo, brought down to mortal size.

In fact, we first meet Apollo when he lands in a dumpster, in the physical body of a sixteen-year-old with acne, a boy named Lester Papadopoulos. He's stomped by two bullies, only to be rescued by a girl! It's Apollo (okay, Lester) who tells the story of his first encounter with Meg McCaffrey, who turns out to be a demigod. And, it's all because Apollo is punished by his father, Zeus.

But, it really isn't all because of a punishment. Apollo really is needed, in whatever form, because there's trouble at Camp Half-Blood where some of the demigods have just disappeared into the woods. Despite the threats to the camp, New York, and the entire world, it's still funny to see Apollo brought to his knees. As he half-remembers his past loves, his past mistakes, and his past life, he regrets all of it. What may seem like teenage angst is a god who lost his powers, and he really does feel "how no one else in the history of time had ever experienced problems like mine."

Riordan brings back his best-loved character, Percy Jackson, for a couple rescue scenes. But, this book is Apollo's story to tell. He tells of the trials dealing with Meg, the problems getting to Camp Half-Blood where he expects help, only to find the camp itself is in trouble. And, there's all the foolish mistakes a god in the form of a teen makes, such as vowing not to sing or use archery, his greatest talents. Instead, he sets out to hunt for a missing Oracle armed with a ukulele. "It was comforting to know that in a dire emergency I could hit people with my ukulele while Meg planted geraniums." Apollo's whole attitude can be summed up when he and Meg started out searching for the Oracle. "I led the way, not because I had any destination in mind, but because I was angry. I was tired of being cold and soaked. I was tired of being picked on. Mortals often talk about the whole world being against them, but that is ridiculous. Mortals aren't that important. In my case, the whole world really was against me."

It's always fun to read all the wry comments in Rick Riordan's books. It's particularly fun when the comments come from a god who seems to deserve what he's getting. It's a little humbling. And, it's always enjoyable to read about the Greek myths. Riordan handles them with humor while accurately relating the myths. (Well, accurately unless you're viewing them from Apollo's perspective.) The Hidden Oracle is a great kick-off to Riordan's new series, The Trials of Apollo.

Rick Riordan's website is

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. Disney-Hyperion. 2016. 376p.

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SandyG265 said...

I generally enjoy books featuring different mythologies but I've never been able to get into Rick's books.

Lesa said...

I don't like his Kane Chronicles about Egypt, but I like his other ones.