the Little Red Reviewer

that old movie with the clay skeletons

Posted on: February 4, 2011

The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan

published in 2006

Where I got it: borrowed from a friend

why I read it: Enjoyed the first book in the series

The second book in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, The Sea of Monsters was a much faster read, probably because we already know all of the characters. Percy’s been trying to survive another year at a prep school, trying not to get kicked out, and befriending  Tyson,  a homeless student.   The school year ends with a bang, and Percy gets back to camp Half-Blood only to find that Thalia’s Tree has been poisoned and the camp is open to attacks from Monsters.

To make things worse, Grover’s gotten trapped during his quest to find Pan, and Chiron (who I always envision as Anthony Head for some reason) has been partially blamed for the camp’s defenses going down.

What happens next is you guessed it – Percy, Tyson, and Annabeth set out on a quest to save Grover, and in the process find the golden fleece. If you’re familiar with your Greek Mythology, this was the Odyssey meets Jason and the Argonauts mixed with a ton of pop culture references.

Cutest line ever:

“you do know the story of Jason and the Argonauts?”
“Yeah”, I said, “That old movie with the clay skeletons.”


the whole style of The Sea of Monsters is faster, funnier, and a little wittier.  I was able to read it in two sittings, and laughed out loud a handful of times in the process. There’s no adult humor, but some of the jokes and pop culture might be lost on younger readers.

Before they know it, the campers are on their way to the Sea of Monsters, the mythical sea that every hero must pass through on their quests. As the center of power shifts westward, these days the Sea of Monsters is where normal people would call the Bermuda Triangle.   As on your standard Greek Hero Quest,  Percy runs into an enemy from his past, has to learn to trust a new friend, and learns some secrets about his family along with a prophecy that could save the world, or destroy it.

Something I really appreciate about Riordan’s writing is that he’s not afraid to go dark and scary. These books are 100% appropriate and geared towards younger readers, but it’s not all candy and rainbows (well, there is one Rainbow, but he’s kind goofy. . .).  Other godlings warn Percy that the gods are just using him, and they’re not completely wrong. There’s danger and weapons, and narrow escapes and near drownings, and some very hungry and angry monsters.   And this prophecy?  Some pretty dark stuff, and I’m happy Riordan went there.

It took me a minute to “get” some things that happened at the end of the book. Namely, a handful of Deus ex machina.  Deus ex machina was a mainstay of ancient Greek plays, when at the end of the play a God would come down, get the hero out of a pickle, and magically fix everything. These days people often use the phrase Deus ex Machina when they think a writer copped out with an easy ending, often with some plot device that’s out of place or ridiculous.  Riordan didn’t cop out at all. He did a perfect homage to Greek plays.

If you’ve read my review of the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief, you know I find these books to be absolutely adorable. First time hearing about this series? make sure you start with the first book.

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3 Responses to "that old movie with the clay skeletons"

That is a great line! Its been a long time since I’ve watched any of the old Ray Harryhausen films and I should take a trip down nostalgia lane one of these days. I saw these as a child during the summers when the local movie theater would show old movies on Wednesday afternoons for kids. Parents would drop all their kids off for a couple hours of peace and quiet. For some odd reason we went through a phase during this time where we wanted to sit right up front, so I saw a lot of these films in ways that were truly “larger than life”.

I think you will find that Thalia is one of the best additions to the series, in book 3. I really dig this series. They are an absolute blast to read.

The movie version…however…is so bad I wanted to throw my popcorn against the screen. Sadly the film company nabbed the rights off Riordan before the first book was published and he sold them, and they completely changed everything.

Sigh.

Great books though!

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About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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