Book review: “The Son of Neptune” by Rick Riordan (spoiler alert!)

The Son of Neptune is the second book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, released here in the Philippines with relatively little fanfare last October 4, 2011.

Camp Jupiter finds itself reluctantly welcoming in Percy Jackson, a 16-year-old amnesiac demigod under Juno’s protection. He’s trained though, in a style that no one’s ever seen before. He meets Hazel and Frank and joins them in the Fifth Cohort AKA the “loser cohort”. They’re sent on a quest to release Thanatos, or Death. Freeing him is a must, as with him chained, no one stays dead, including the monsters that keep on coming back instead of staying dead. And guess who now controls the Doors of Death? Yep, Gaea. The three of them travel to Alaska, the land beyond the gods, to free Thanatos, retrieve the Roman eagle standard, and maybe save the world along the way.

The book is okay overall though I’m not certain I’m going to buy a physical copy anytime soon (I read the Kindle version).

RANKING: 3.5/5 (serviceable but not as good as TLH)

The good:

I liked how he described Camp Jupiter. I’m not that familiar with Roman mythology and history compared to Greek so I appreciated the background information.

The action in SON comes hard and fast, with the book taking place over only a week. Percy is the veteran this time around and it shows. Even with his memory gone, he’s every inch a leader and a warrior. Hazel and Frank are decent characters and get to do some cool things too.

I love Iris and her R.O.F.L.! It was good to see minor gods getting more attention.

The not-so-good (SPOILER WARNING!):

Amazon is run by actual Amazons. My face: @_@. I don’t know if Riordan was kidding or trolling or was perfectly serious. I suppose it was too good a joke to pass up.

Even though each chapter title is the name of a character (same with The Lost Hero), The Son of Neptune is the first book in the PJO/HOO universe written in the third person. (The chapter title just tells you who the main focus is for that chapter.) I didn’t like it. Sure the rapid shift in point-of-views was jarring at times, but one of the things that made PJO and TLH interesting was the characters’ distinctive internal dialogue. With SON, the characters’ “voices” were lost and the chapters just blended together.

(Edit: Sorry, The Lost Hero was also written in the third person. My bad. So in this case, Riordan failed to give Hazel and Frank distinctive “voices” but succeeded with Jason, Piper, and Leo.)

I don’t like what Riordan is doing with the new demigods. Is it just me, or is Riordan developing the new characters at the expense of the old ones? For one thing, the new guys are all superpowered. So Jason can fly. I can accept that because he’s a kid of Zeus. I’ll even excuse the description in TLH that there’s “nothing to be improved” because it was Piper’s POV. But a shapeshifter descended from both Poseidon and Mars? A resurrected daughter of Pluto that can control precious metals and jewels? Riordan’s making it look like these new demigods are The Chosen Ones only because of their extra-special abilities. He also constantly tells us that these new demigods are OMFGawesome but rarely shows us why they’re so awesome. I like Hazel – she’s a nice enough girl. But what annoyed me to no end was her being the only warrior “worthy” of a magical horse when she’d done nothing significant prior to owning said horse. How can she be the “greatest female warrior” when she needs to partner up with a magical horse in order to be great? Please. I nominate Annabeth I-will-shank-you-if-you-mess-with-me Chase or Clarisse “Drakonslayer” La Rue for that title.

Third: I do NOT like where the Hazel/Frank/Leo love triangle is heading. I’m thinking that Leo Valdez is Sammy Valdez reborn, Hazel can’t get over it, Frank worries that he’ll lose Hazel, and Leo doesn’t know where he fits into this. For the icing on the cake, Leo suddenly gets his Sammy-memories back and realizes that he’s in love with Hazel. *facepalm* DON’T EVEN GO THERE. No. Just NO.

(Edit: there’s some speculation that Leo could be Sammy Valdez’ grandson. That never even occurred to me. I much prefer this scenario over Leo being Sammy’s reincarnation and not just because I want to avoid the drama that comes with it. Leo’s a great character on his own. Making him Sammy’s reincarnation will lessen his greatness somehow.)

And can I just say this? My boy Nico diAngelo got shafted again.

17 Replies to “Book review: “The Son of Neptune” by Rick Riordan (spoiler alert!)”

  1. The Lost Hero is actually the first book written in third-person, mind you.


    Gaea gave Hazel a vision (the part where they are sinking in muskeg) that Sammy moved to Texas and got married. Sammy died in the 60’s due to a heart attack. It gives us a hint that Leo Valdez is Sammy’s grandson or great grandson, which also tells us why they look alike. Just speculations though.

    1. TLH: Oh right. I completely forgot about that. Editing the review now. Well in that case, Riordan just failed to give Hazel and Frank enough of a “voice” to make them distinctive.

      Leo being Sammy’s grandson/great-grandson is definitely possible, though not exactly something I’d welcome. However, I’d prefer this scenario over Leo being a direct reincarnation of Sammy (which also explains why Leo and Sammy look exactly alike.)

      1. Percy had a dream where Leo was working on the Argo ll and he saw a picture of Sammy in Hazel’s old house in Alaska

  2. As annoying and dreadful as the whole “Hazel/Leo/Frank” thing is …. I for one am totally in love with it…. i actually want hazel and leo to fall in love with each other… because it’s so different and complicated in their relationship….. i mean come on haven’t we had enough with the whole Piper and Jason thing… why would we want another story that revolves around the same thing as Jason and piper when they had love at first sight… that would just be boring… plus i love leo’s sense of humor and with Hazel and him put together they would be the cutest couple

    1. IMHO Hazel/Leo would result in unnecessary drama. Based on what we saw of Hazel and Sammy’s “relationship”, it was just puppy love – not really something you’d expect to live on in later lives.

      I’m also not a big fan of Jason/Piper. Everything about Piper and Jason’s relationship was just planted there by Hera. How can you build a relationship from fake memories? If anything else, I ship Leo/Piper because it looks like they were friends even before Jason came into the picture.

      1. Macy,

        So true on the second part of your opinion. Even if Leo and Hazel were not meant to be, Piper and Leo would definitely be a better fit then Jason and Piper. The fact that Leo and Piper can tease each other and call each other names and yet are extremely close, shows that their could be a potential love relationship. Jason is just WAY too boring and if Piper could just see ANYTHING besides Jason’s good looks, she might notice the funny Latino boy who calls her “Pipes” or “Beauty Queen”.

        Also, I understand exactly what you mean about the whole Hazel and Leo part (but I’m Overly- Stubborn, so I’m still wishing that it might happen) because it makes complete sense. But what your forgetting to notice is that their is a whole lot of unsolved unnecessary drama besides the whole “Leo-Hazel-Frank” love triangle. We also have :
        – “Piper-Jason-Reyna” love triangle (which I have no clue who RR is going to chose)
        – Who is the 7th hero of the prophecy (I think it’s Annabeth but you never know…)
        – What will the Greek/Roman reunion be like?
        – Is Octavian working for Gaea?
        – Where does Sammy Valdez fit into all this?
        – Who will save Nico and is he okay?
        – And lastly… “Mark of Athena burns through Rome, Daughter of Athena walks alone (i think i got it right) … ” What does it mean and what does it have to do with Annabeth exactly.

        So now that my rant is proven, I just want to say that they only reason I wrote all that nonsense (the whole Leo-Hazel part ) up there is because I just really don’t want Frank to be with Hazel. In fact, I would prefer if RR would just let Frank die an Honorable death with Hazel sending him away with words of love like Annabeth did to Luke in The Last Olympian. Frank is just too awkward and from what I can tell I thought you could see Hazel’s personality shine more when she was with Sammy in her past memories of her other life.

        All in all, I just want Sammy and Hazel not Frank! So my only other option would be Leo and Hazel.

        – Kristen

        1. Oh don’t worry. I noticed all the unnecessary and unsolved drama. Especially disliking the drama for Hazel/Frank/Leo doesn’t mean that I’m condoning the other drama. As for Hazel’s personality showing when she was with Sammy, that could simply be a result of the circumstances she was in. She was happy with Sammy because she was a happy kid in general at that point in time. She didn’t have any of the problems that does now.

  3. I agree with your review of the book, the characters lack personality (not including Percy, Annabeth, or Leo) and seem to not have any flaws. Nico’s appearance is short and involves him lying and getting kidnapped (Bravo, son of Hades, bravo). Remember how in the Percy Jackson Series Percy didn’t get along with Annabeth or Nico at first and he was ashamed of Tyson? Now he meets two random people and suddenly they’re all best friends. Everyone seems to meet and immediately get along. Though this has more to do with The Lost Hero, I never liked Piper or Jason. Neither had flaws (not including Jason being “too perfect”). Also I get it, they both like each other, it doesn’t have to be mentioned in literally every single chapter involving them.

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