Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Battle of the Labyrinth

I said it was a disease. Could be true. A genuine illness. Whatever it is, something took hold of me and caused me to devour not only the fourth, but also the fifth book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Here's the thing, last Sunday I did a little grocery shopping at the local Super Target. While I was there, I went ahead and decided to buy The Battle of the Labyrinth, which is book four. I finished it Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, I drove back over to Target to get The Last Olympian, book five. I just finished that one about an hour ago. I'll get to that one in another post though.

I'm not what you'd call a speed reader. I know people in my life that could tear through a 400 page novel in a day or two. That's really not something I can pride myself on. I sometimes wish I could, simply because there are so many books out there that I'd love to get my hands on and read through. Speed reading would open up so many doors and save so much time. But alas, I keep reading the old fashioned way. Page by page, word for word. Two books in a week, though, is a little fast for me.

When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, it was one that I stood in line at midnight to purchase at the Roanoke Books-A-Million. By the time I got home with it, I was exhausted and didn't feel like reading. I heard stories of people who stayed up all night to read it and had it finished by noon the next day. I took my time with it and finished in just under a week. I guess I say that to show that I've never really gotten into a work of fiction the way I've gotten into Rick Riordan's books. And if you're tired of reading about what I've thought of Percy Jackson, don't worry. There's only one more to write about after this one. I promise, after next week, you won't have to put up with any more (until the sequel series is released this fall).

First of all, let me warn you, if you pick up this book expecting it to be anything like the movie Labyrinth, you'll be greatly disappointed. Unless you didn't like that movie, in which case, you may be pretty psyched about it. There are no goblins, no Muppets, and no David Bowie carrying a microphone scepter. Just the same half-blood heroes that we've come to know over the course of the last three novels.

In classic Greek myth, the Labyrinth was an elaborate maze under Crete. It was designed by the genius inventor, Daedalus. You may remember Daedalus from the story of his son Icarus, the boy who flew two close to the sun, causing his wings to get so hot that they fell apart. His father warned him not to go too high, but kids, they just never listen. In this modernized tale of the Labyrinth, the maze has shifted locations. Now it is an ever-evolving, almost living structure that is just under the surface of the United States. If one were to successfully navigate the Labyrinth, he or she would be able to enter or exit at any point in the US. Theoretically, one could go through an entrance in Manhattan and reappear a few hours later in San Francisco.

There's only one problem. With the maze being "alive" and all, it tends to change. So navigating it isn't all that easy. Oh, and there are traps all over the place. It's the kind of place that's designed to bring your worst fears to life and will try to throw you off the right track. Also, there's a little issue of people going insane while they're inside the maze. So if you're looking to go crazy, or possibly die a horrible, claustrophobic death, then a trip through the Labyrinth may be the vacation for you.

And that's exactly where we find Percy and Annabeth in this installment's wacky adventure. An entrance to the maze is discovered within the borders of Camp Half-Blood. This means that if their enemy, Kronos (the Titan lord) were to find it, he would be able to send an army straight into the camp to tear apart the heroes without worrying about the protection of the camp's magical borders. So our heroes decide to go on a quest to find Daedalus' workshop at the center of the Labyrinth. And they have to do this before their old frienemy, Luke, is able to find it. Whoever finds it first would be in a much better position to ask the ancient inventor for help in finding a path through the Labyrinth.

Along the way, Grover, the satyr, finds the lost god Pan after searching for so long. Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades, finds a way to stop blaming Percy for the things that have gone wrong in his life. And Percy is tempted for a short time to live an immortal life with Calypso on a hidden island paradise. In the end, it all ties together for the heroes and we're shown how crucial each choice they make really is.

All in all, it's a very good book and sets the stage perfectly for the final chapter to come. I laughed, I cringed, I figured things out before they happened. That's not to say that the book was predictable. Okay, maybe it was a little predictable. But after reading three of these things already, I can't say that I'm easily surprised by some of the twists that are meant to be shocking. And that didn't stop me from enjoying the heck out of the book. Come back Monday if you want to find out what I think about The Last Olympian. It's pretty good too.

1 comment:

  1. I think this one was my favorite of the series. I don't know why, but I just felt it was very well-executed. And I loved their finding Pan. And I really enjoyed Daedalus' big finish.