Old School Wednesdays is a weekly Book Smuggler feature. We came up with the idea towards the end of 2012, when both Ana and Thea were feeling exhausted from the never-ending inundation of New and Shiny (and often over-hyped) books. What better way to snap out of a reading fugue than to take a mini-vacation into the past?
Logo designed by the wonderful KMont
In March 2013, we asked YOU for your favorite old school suggestions – and the response was so overwhelmingly awesome, we decided to compile a goodreads shelf, an ongoing database, AND a monthly readalong/book club.
This month, we tackle the fifth and final book in Rick Riordan’s much beloved Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Last Olympian.
Title: The Last Olympian
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Contemporary/Urban Fantasy, Middle Grade, Greek Mythology, Reimaginings
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Publication date: First published 2009 (this edition 2014)
Paperback: 381 pages
All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.
In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.
Stand alone or series: Fifth and final book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
How did we get this book: Bought + Review Copy from the Publisher.
Why did we read this book: Because we’re big Percy Jackson fans, and this year marks the 10th anniversary of Percy Jackson and the Oylmpians series! As part of the festivities, we’re happy recipients of the following very cool Camp Half Blood survival pack, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.
We’ve been positing reviews of the entire original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series this year, along with some other goodies. Check out all of our posts HERE (or #ReadRiordan) to get all of the Percy Jackson goodness.
Format (e- or p-): Print
**WARNING: This review contains unavoidable spoilers for books 1-4 in the Percy Jackson series. If you haven’t read those books, and you would like to remain unspoiled, look away.**
When we started this series, tackling all of the original Percy Jackson books, I was ecstatic. I love Percy Jackson, and have since my first taste of The Lightning Thief several years ago. We’ve reviewed each of the books in this series over the past three months, and the re-reading experience has been truly amazing. (One of the (very few) drawbacks of reviewing books for a blog on the regular is the lack of time for re-reading–unless we turn re-reads into regular features, which we very much intend to do in 2016.)
One of the things I love so much about the Percy Jackson books is the way each volume in the series builds to one ultimate, dramatic showdown for the soul of Olympus. In The Last Olympian, Percy and his fellow half-bloods and demigods are poised for battle against Kronos–who now inhabits Luke’s body–and the Titans and other half-bloods and demons he has rallied to his cause. Kronos will stop at nothing to dethrone his children, the Gods of Olympus, and with Poseidon preoccupied with battle in the realm of the sea, and Zeus and the other major Gods fighting the formidable Typhon in the midwest, it is up to Percy and the remaining students of Camp Half-Blood to protect Olympus–that is, the island of Manhattan, in particular the Empire State Building–from Kronos’s advancing army. Making things even more complicated is the fact that Percy is just shy of his sixteenth birthday–the date when the prophecy that everyone has labored so hard to keep from Percy will come to fruition. A single choice, made by a child of the big 3 gods (Zeus, Poseidon, Hades) will save Olympus, or destroy it. For Percy, keeping his friends and family alive, his city safe, and the Gods in power is no small feat, and with the weight of the terrible prophecy on his shoulders, the stakes are higher than ever. It is up to Percy, his friends Annabeth, Grover, Thalia, Nico, Rachel Dare, and Clarisse, to rally the demigods and hold Olympus–the fate of all the Heroes and the western world depend on them.
Of all the books in the series, I think The Titan’s Curse is my favorite, but The Last Olympian is a very close second. This is the ALL OR NOTHING book, the story where the shit hits the fan, where Percy makes some really important decisions, and the truth of the prophecy comes to full light. All of the niggling plot threads–what happened to Luke? Where do Annabeth’s loyalties really lie? What happened to Nico and his father Hades, how does Rachel Dare fit into everything, what the heck does the prophecy really mean and what’s up with the Oracle? ALL of this comes to a dramatic conclusion here in book V, in which many demigods, humans, and other creatures die. On that note, another thing I really love about this series is that everyone is given a say–we understand Luke, and Ethan Nakamura, and Silena Beauregard, and Clarisse, and why each of these characters acts in the ways that they have acted. We also see Percy tempted for the first time, frustrated with the lack of answers and his father, losing trust in the people he cares for, and struggling against his impending destiny. I only wish Annabeth had more of a voice in this final book, as she’s relegated to a supporting role–an important one, nonetheless. As does the setting:
Even from this height, I should’ve heard the noise of the city–millions of people bustling around, thousands of cars and machines–the hum of a huge metropolis. you don’t think about it when you live in New York, but it’s always there. Even in the dead of night, New York is never silent. But it was now. I felt like my best friend had suddenly dropped dead. “What did they do?” My voice sounded tight and angry. “What did they do to my city?”
This might be my bias as a current New Yorker, but seeing the obvious love that Rick Riordan has for Long Island (where Camp Half Blood is), for the island of Manhattan, and the battle for the future taking place in the city that never sleeps (but has, ironically, been put to sleep) is pretty awesome. Percy’s outrage at the silence of his city, the defense of the East and Hudson Rivers, the battle on the Williamsburg Bridge, the fortification of the tunnels all leading into the metropolis are so, so, so cool to read.
Another thing I loved about The Last Olympian was learning and meeting more of the Titans, in particular Prometheus, with his wiles and his earnest demeanor. Ultimately, this book and this series is about the tension between parents and children; the unfulfilled duties of parents to their children, the rebellion of children against their parents. That counts for the Titans–who yearn to steal back their power from their children–just as it counts for the Gods and their half-blood offspring. There’s a nice examination of the lesser gods and forgotten deities, like Nemesis and Hestia, who play pivotal roles in the fate of Olympus.
(Oh, yeah, and the identity and meaning of the “Last olympian”? That’s pretty awesome, too.)
Ultimately, I’m really happy with the way the series ends and the dramatic revelations at the end of The Last Olympian. It’s a truly epic end, to a truly epic series–and while Percy Jackson will never be Harry Potter, it’s a powerful, fulfilling, and worthy successor.
Absolutely, wholeheartedly recommended. Next up–the Red Pyramid, or maybe I’ll tackle the Heroes of Olympus series (both of which I have not yet read). Any recommendations/takers?
I haven’t been as enthused as Thea about Percy Jackson: my experience reading this series has been vastly different than hers. I had not read the series before and the result so far has varied from annoyance (at book four, for example) to reluctant appreciation (The Titan’s Curse).
Thea already covered – and well – What Happens in The Last Olympian and I agree with her assessment of its strengths especially where it concerns the thematic core of the novel: that of the relationship between parents and children.
The strengths of the novel – and even, the series – has always been this fraught relationship between the old gods and the new demigods as well as between the Titans and Zeus’ Gang. In this book, we get a further look at the minor gods and how their absence from the pantheon or their treatment by those who stand above has affected the lives of their children, themselves and effectively the world. I use the word “world” very loosely indeed: one of the series biggest weaknesses is how the story seems to be far too focused in the US, concentrating the story in this one place as opposed to the wider world. One of the biggest disappointments is how we never see demigods from anywhere but America. I understand how the gods have “settled” in the US but boy, can’t the gods even travel when spreading their seed?
But I digress.
We also get to see the importance of the four “Hs”: Hearth, home, hope and heritage, to the story. Heritage connects to the above and to family. Hearth, home and hope are cleverly interconnected with the main storyline and with the title – when it’s revealed who the Last Olympian was and how was that important, I actually teared up a bit.
To me, the biggest plus of The Last Olympian is how the writing vastly improves: the story is tighter, more focused. The plot has unexpected, surprising twists as well as moments that resonate; the action is top notch and even though there are deus ex machina moments, most of the action sequences rely solely on the characters’ choices and agency. When it’s finally revealed the true meaning of the Prophecy and how it all plays it out, I was pleasantly shocked. There are no percy, my boys and the love triangle gets nicely solved with both girls playing great roles in the end.
Ultimately, I find that Rick Riodan’s writing doesn’t really appeal to me and I doubt I will ever read any of his other novels. Actually, given my lukewarm feelings toward book 4, I almost didn’t read this last book. I am glad I did in the end because I finally found a book in the series that I truly enjoyed reading and perhaps even loved a little bit.
Ana: 7 – Very Good, for this book and 6 – Good for the series overall
Thea: 8 – Excellent, for this book and the series overall