Give me second, I'm trying to get my story straight...
I've really enjoyed this series, and it is nice to see that The Mark of Athena follows the trend. Good story, good narration, good times.
This series started out great, with lots of time spent getting to know the characters, original ideas and intricate plots, but this book is more action centered and a lot more predictable. As the demigods travel to Rome, monsters pop up constantly and they have to use their wits and battle skills to survive. Point of views change often, giving us insight into the main character's minds (Anabeth, Leo, Piper, etc), but I did not feel as close to them in this book as I did in the two previous ones. The story is great and there are lots of good laughs, as you would expect from this author, but the fast paced action felt a bit more artificial... as if it were made of a series of mini-stories strung closely together on the story timeline.
In the end, I was left hungry for more development. The love stories evolved, yes (mainly Anabeth and Percy's), but the main quest (finding the doors of death... and saving Nico), is only partly finished by the end of the book. However, Anabeth's side-quest (following the mark of Athena, avenging her mother), which takes up a lot of space in the story, does reach it's conclusion. Still, very little progress is made in this installment of the series, and I must admit that I was a bit disappointed.
Also, the narrator is a great voice for the series, but I agree with other critiques that say the way some of the characters are interpreted makes them sound dumb. Octavian sounds cartoon-stupid, which is a bit much, and Frank sounds like a big thug, which is flat-out wrong. Even Percy sounds a bit weird in this book (!), and all that makes the listening experience a lot less interesting.
In short, this book is a must for all fans, but I will probably go for the paper version of the sequel, and I am now certain that this series will (unfortunately) not surpass the Percy Jackson series.
Love Rick Riordan's books. I always read my son's, but this time I thought I'd try the audio version. It was difficult to get past the pronunciation of Gaia, which should be GUY-ya, but was instead pronounced GEE-ya.
The story is wonderful as always; I love the clever way Riordan updates the old myths and applies the characters and situations to the modern age. I always have some great laughs. The narrator was ok, though his breathless portrayal of the female characters was definitely off when they were kicking *ss. Meh.
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This is the best book in both Percy Jackson series, so far. I was really impressed with the direction it's taken, especially the way this one ended. I can't wait for the next one to be published. I will have to listen to this again in the mean time.