The follow up to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief was at it’s very core modern take on Homer’s Iliad (The Odyssey).
Through the lens of book one’s protagonist, Percy, the plot picks up where it was left off, with the betrayal of Luke. We revisit the stories central characters with a deeper dive into Clarisse La Rue, the daughter of Ares, and the addition of the Cyclops Tyson.
The stand out feature of book two of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is Riordan’s character development. It becomes an integral part of the story as we start to learn about characters other than Percy, such as Annabeth with her traumatic history and how Luke’s betrayal impacted her.
A focal point of this novel is the idea of fatal flaws – an error in human nature that could lead to your own personal demise. He ties this into the development of key characters all while laying breadcrumbs to be collected later on in the series. His ability as an author to develop characters is further showcased as he is able to escape the lens of personal development and build the relationships of the characters simply from having them interact with one and other. He does this best through Percy and Clarisse, characters who at the beginning of the novel were enemies, competing against each other. As they set out on their Homeric quest you see the two characters form a mutual respect for one and other, without Riordan having to explicitly put it in to words. It’s quite a feat for an author, who at this point in his career was on his second or third published book, outlining why he has created a monopoly on the modern day young adult fantasy genre.
One thing Riordan is renown for is the level of social inclusiveness he applies to his novels. Having been a school teacher he wanted to represent as many different social and cultural groups as possible, and I believe his first stride in that direction started in Sea of Monsters. He uses Tyson’s character as a vessel for minority groups and the discrimination they receive in making him a Cyclops, a ‘monster’ within the camp. He is harshly judged for what he is and the actions of others rather than who he is. Riordan makes this point through Percy’s personal relationship with the debutant character. It is only when we learn more about Tyson through his wholesome and selfless personality do we see how he was harshly mistreated because of how he looked, a revelation the characters experience when Tyson (SPOILER ALERT) sacrifices himself for them. This is best portrayed through Annabeth’s change of heart towards the Cyclops as her prejudice was based on her own traumatic experience with other members of Tyson’s species rather than Tyson himself.
The plot of the book is quite linear and meets its natural conclusion, though not without throwing in a life altering cliff hanger to keep the readers wanting more. It was a fantastic sequel and lay the groundwork for the rest of the series. My only criticism is its length. It is the shortest novel in the series and I felt like there was more of the mythological origins that Riordan could have explored, however that is only a personal note on what is otherwise a flawless story. Receives an 8/10.
Sea of Monsters: The Movie
I spoke a lot about how disappointing the Lightning Thief was as a film so I won’t go into too much detail on this one. All I’ll say is watch this movie if you feel like ruining your day. It’s no wonder why after this movie the studio scrapped the third and final film in the planned trilogy, but hey, at least they got Annabeth’s hair colour right this time.
More of Rick Riordan
Explore all Rick Riordan book reviews!
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Daughter of the Deep
The Lost Artefacts
If you like the Rick Riordan books then you’ll love The Lost Artefacts series.
Runner up in the 2021 TCK Publishing Reader’s Choice Awards!