Book review: “The Mark of Athena” by Rick Riordan (might contain spoilers!)

The Mark of Athena, the third book in Rick Riordan’s bestselling Heroes of Olympus series, came out a few days ago – a year after The Son of Neptune .

The official book summary:
Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy – after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera – it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t help the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon figurehead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket, Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving command: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to fins – and close – the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? as the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader – but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare…

I finished the book yesterday and I wanted to write this while my thoughts are still fresh. As such, please pardon the potential jumble of thoughts.

My overall verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The good:

  • We finally learn more about Annabeth as a person. All of her characterization so far has come from Percy’s point of view and he’s crazy in love with her so he’s biased. It was nice to see why she’s kickass instead of just accepting it as is.
  • More Leo. YAY! I can never get enough of him. He’s my favorite of the seven (except for Percy of course). He finally becomes an important part of the team instead of just being the add-on to the Jason-Piper saga. No, I don’t care about what Nemesis said.
  • Less Frank and Hazel. Hurrah!
  • The Sammy-Leo connection is finally revealed and it’s the less painful of the two theories floating around (see my review of The Son of Neptune to refresh your memory).
  • MOA is fast-paced with lots of action. As with all of Riordan’s books, the entire story takes place over a very limited amount of time. There’s always something happening.
  • It was nice to see Percy and Jason developing a bromance.

The bad:

  • We learn more about Annabeth, right? As it turns out, Annabeth is too perfect. Really. She comes off as the female Jason – strong, smart, and a good leader with no discernible flaws. There’s a part where she complains about not being taken seriously as a warrior and strategist because she’s blonde. I would be more sympathetic if this claim were valid. Aren’t ALL children of Athena blonde-haired and gray-eyed? It’s also already established that Athena is the top cabin in Capture the Flag and that Annabeth is practically Percy’s second-in-command.
  • Piper annoyed me to no end. Her character gets lost because of all the Jason-Jason-Jason thoughts. I don’t need to hear about how built he is, or how his golden hair shines in the sunlight, or how he’s practically perfect in every way. There’s no mention of Piper ever examining her feelings for Jason after finding out that all their lovey dovey memories together were planted by Hera. How long have the two of them really known each other? Did they truly love each other or was that something fake? Riordan missed out on a great opportunity by not explaining.
  • Frank and Hazel annoyed me too, but to a lesser degree than Piper. Does Frank think about anything else besides Hazel and how Leo is moving in on his woman? *rolls eyes* Hazel’s also stuck in her Sammy obsession.
  • Dear Leo, there are better girls out there for you than Hazel Levesque. Consider Piper McLean, when she’s not being an idiot.
  • I don’t need constant reminders on who’s dating who. I already got that from the first chapter. On that note, why does everyone in the series have to pair up? I can handle a maximum of two pairings within the group of seven.
  • Why oh why does everyone keep on saying Nico di Angelo is creepy and untrustworthy? Out of all of them, I was most disappointed in Percy for saying that. After the end of the Titan War, I’d have thought that he’d know Nico better than that. But no! Sure Nico didn’t tell them about Camp Jupiter and didn’t tell Percy who he was when he lost his memory, but he should have at least given Nico the benefit of the doubt and waited for him to explain instead of making snap judgments. The only reason Percy didn’t ream Nico out when they rescued him was because Nico was too exhausted and fragile.
  • It looks like Rick Riordan doesn’t do ensemble casts well. All of the previous PJO and HOO books had a maximum of three main characters so each one got their due attention. MOA is the first time he’s had to deal with seven lead characters and unfortunately, some characters are inevitably lost in the shuffle. Sure I don’t like Hazel and Frank all that much but if I did, then I would be disappointed by their absence.

Overall, it was an okay book on the same level as The Son of Neptune. It definitely wasn’t as good as the original PJO series or even The Lost Hero. My wishes for The House of Hades are:

  • Give me more Nico di Angelo! And stop calling him creepy.
  • Less focus on the couples. My dears, saving the world is more important than obsessing over whether your boyfriend is finally going back home or whether this new funny guy is muscling in on your girl.
  • More Rachel Elizabeth Dare. All I’m asking for are a few IMs to the Oracle. I want to know how she’s doing.

6 Replies to “Book review: “The Mark of Athena” by Rick Riordan (might contain spoilers!)”

  1. Thanks for this! Gosh, I thought I was the only one annoyed by the romance in this book so I assumed it was because of the mood I was in. But I didn’t find the characters’ feelings to be valid. Their musings on the state of their relationship just seemed like it was simply there as a resting spot from the action segments.

    I also agree with your comments on Piper and Nico.

    1. Oh, you’re definitely not alone. Another friend of mine found it annoying as well. I was hoping that demigods out to save the world would have other things to think about than their boyfriends and girlfriends @_@

      Sigh. Riordan is making it very, very hard for me to like Piper. Poor girl. She has no character outside of “Jason’s girlfriend”. And Nico diAngelo will forever be my guy.

      1. Yep I agree. Piper got a bit annoying in this book because she spent most of the time worried about her relationship. She was stronger in The Lost Hero.
        I think Riordan is trying to foreshadow that Nico is some kind of double agent otherwise I don’t understand why the other characters insist on thinking he’s shady.

        1. If Nico turns out to be a double agent/triple agent (good guy pretending to be bad so he can do good), I am going to hurt someone. Or go bury myself in fanfiction.

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