Book review: “The Serpent’s Shadow” by Rick Riordan

Finally! We have the The Serpent’s Shadow – the 3rd (but not final?) book in the Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan (he of Percy Jackson fame). The official synopsis:

He’s b-a-a-ack! Despite their best efforts, Carter and Sadie Kane can’t seem to keep Apophis, the Chaos snake, down. Now Apophis is threatening to plunge the world into eternal darkness, and the Kanes are faced with the impossible task of having to destroy him once and for all. Unfortunately, the magicians of the House of Life are on the brink of civil war, the gods are divided, and the young initiates of Brooklyn House stand almost alone against the forces of chaos. The Kanes’ only hope is an ancient spell that might turn the serpent’s own shadow into a weapon, but the magic has been lost for a millennia. To find the answer they need, the Kanes must rely on the murderous ghost of a powerful magician who might be able to lead them to the serpent’s shadow . . . or might lead them to their deaths in the depths of the underworld.

Nothing less than the mortal world is at stake when the Kane family fulfills its destiny in this thrilling conclusion to the Kane Chronicles.

I willingly admit that I’m not as big a fan of the Kane Chronicles compared to PJO because it’s been hit-or-miss. The Red Pyramid was great and got me to look forward to Book 2. Unfortunately, The Throne of Fire was disappointing and forgettable. Because of this, I was hesitant to give The Serpent’s Shadow a chance. I’m glad that I finally did (and that I finally finished Goliath by Scott Westerfeld so that I could move on to this :P) because The Serpent’s Shadow is so much fun!

What I liked:

  • Rick Riordan is funny again! It seems that he tends to be funny when he’s not trying so hard to be funny. I loved getting inside Carter’s head.
  • It’s full of action. So many things are happening all at once that you don’t have the time to be bored.
  • The supporting cast members are fleshed out and real. I liked meeting Walt in Throne of Fire but again, he was forgettable. Just a random background character. This time, he’s fleshed out and has an actual purpose. I also enjoyed finally seeing Zia in action after being relegated to Love Interest.
  • The series is sparking an interest in Egyptian mythology. I love learning new things.

What could have used some work:

  • Same thing that plagued Throne of Fire: Riordan tends to tell, not show. The plot moves because of conversations between the characters. Carter and Sadie find out about about the importance of the sheut (shadow) because Bast tells them. Thoth tells Carter about the evil magician that stole his book. Said evil magician continues to explain things as they go along. I can give it a pass if it’s used sporadically but if done all the time (like in this book!), it can get annoying. For better or worse, the plot moved too fast for me to do some serious pondering.
  • I predicted how Walt’s problem would be solved. It is such a cop-out answer, not to mention mind-boggling.
  • Sadie is so self-centered and annoying! Gah. Frankly, I wanted to reach into the book and smack some sense into her. Good thing that I love Carter so much that I continued reading the book.

Off-topic: Anubis is exactly how I imagined a teenage Nico diAngelo would be like! All dark hair, dark eyes, and black leather jacket with black jeans 😛 I hope there’s more of him and RED in The Mark of Athena.

My overall rating: 4/5. It’s better than Red Pyramid but there are still some things that need fixing. The ending is open-ended so there will always be room for a sequel ala Heroes of Olympus. I don’t know how to feel about the wink-wink-nudge-nudge reference to other gods and magic users in Long Island. I’d prefer it if PJO and KC remained as two separate universes.I shudder to think about the possibilities of a three-way crossover with the Norse mythology series that Riordan is planning to write.