I like young adult fantasy, and I had picked this book up a few years ago because it sounded interesting. A few years later, I still hadn't got around to reading it, but a very good friend recommended it to me, and I thought it was time to try again. So, I downloaded the audio version in anticipation of an upcoming road trip and listened to it.
While it was a cute tale of a young boy who learns about his demi-godhood in trying circumstances, I was disappointed in the book. I found the characters annoying (all of Percy's friends at Camp Halfblood), the "gods" stupid, and the plot lacking in real suspense. The concept is original, but the execution seemed, lacking.
Making it worse was the narrator--he reads it in the voice of a naïve 12-year-old, which is, admittedly, what the main character is, but it gets old listening to his whining after about, oh, five minutes. The voices he uses for the other characters distracted me from the story because they were so annoying.
In addition, I feel that he gets inflections on certain words and phrases wrong--a lot. The one that stands out to me was the word "Percy." Every time one of the other characters said Percy's name, no matter the context, he took that tone that your mom used with you when you were five and had done something bad. "PERcyyyy, what have you DONE?" It took me until near the end of the book to realize that most of the characters weren't actually perpetually angry with Percy, it was just the way the narrator spoke his name.
In the end, I give this one three stars for the concept. It's got sequels that I haven't read yet, so it could be that this is just the set up and the rest are better. It's not horrible, and it is mildly entertaining. My mom liked it. But I'd say skip the audio and read it for yourself or read it to your kids yourself. The narrator just about sucks the whatever fun there is in the book right back out of it.
I'll admit to you that when I first pressed "play" on this one, I almost turned it off. Michael Kramer's voice was not what I was expecting to come out of my speakers at all--very low and gravelly--and the story didn't seem like something I was going to be very interested in. Luckily, I was on a mini-road trip, of sorts, and thus didn't have an incredibly huge selection of books from which to choose, and I kept listening. Boy, am I glad that I did. The Final Empire is one of the most unique and interesting fantasy novels I've read in a long while, and actually, after a while of listening, Kramer's performance became very pleasant, and quite suited the novel, I thought. Definitely a must-read (or listen) for any fan of excellent fantasy.
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