Review: The House of Hades

12127810The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Series: The Heroes of Olympus
Genres: Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Kids (Middle Grade), Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

House of Hades continues stylistically and thematically where Mark of Athena left off. This book continues on a slightly darker path than the previous three. While Riordan’s trademark sense of humor is still present, it feel subdued compared to previous books. The whole thing feels a lot more serious than any of Riordan’s other books, probably appropriate considering the context of impending world destruction and a journey through Tartarus. Yet the story continues to be compelling, fun, interesting, and well researched, everything I have come to expect from Riordan.

House of Hades also explores the question of what makes good and evil, and whether we are free to choose who we are, or whether we are born a certain way. The questions it raises are very challenging, even for an adult, and extremely relevant for young people today. Yet all this questioning is tinged with a theme of acceptance of those who are different from ourselves.

If there was one criticism I would make of House of Hades, it would be that seven character points of view hinders character development a little, compared to the previous Heroes of Olympus books. While the book still flows smoothly from POV to POV, it feels disjunct in that you don’t really see how the characters grow and change, because you might only get to read about them once or twice. Still, this was the first Young Adult book I’ve read since The Hunger Games that really tugged at my tear ducts and heart strings the way that the end of this book did. The theme of sacrifice continues as we ask, how do we go on knowing that someone else has given up everything for us and asked for nothing in return? I don’t know the answer to that question, and I really hope Riordan helps me to find an answer in the long awaited conclusion of this series.

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