Friday, July 22, 2011

Rick Riordan 'The Lost Hero'; and Gary Hoover 'Land of Nod - The Artifact'

 I read and loved the Percy Jackson series, so I was wondering where Riordan was going to go with this tale. Well, he went straight to the bank with this one; this book bodes well for the new series "Heroes of Olympus".

The action starts immediately. Jason is a boy who is suffering from amnesia. He wakes up on a school bus not remembering anything from his past, including anything about who he is. He is sitting next to Piper McLean, a girl who is apparently his girlfriend, and a boy, Leo Valdez, who claims to be Jason's best friend. The bus is taking them, along with the rest of their grade at their school, the Wilderness School, on a field trip to the Grand Canyon.  The Wilderness School is apparently a school for delinquents.

While they are there, they are attacked by ‘venti’ or storm-spirits. Their teacher, Coach Gleeson Hedge, reveals himself to be a satyr, and helps fights the venti. Jason surprises himself by automatically using a sword disguised as a coin to fight off the spirits when he is threatened. Coach Hedge is captured while defending them. At the height of the battle, pegasi (two winged-horses) land next to them, carrying strangers: Annabeth  and Butch (who has a rainbow tattoo; he is a son of Iris). Annabeth is angry because she had a vision that she would find a clue to her missing boyfriend, Percy Jackson, at the Grand Canyon. She was told to look for the "boy with the missing shoe"; Jason lost a shoe in the battle, but has no memories of his own identity, let alone Percy Jackson's whereabouts.

The three students are informed that they are demigods (children of a god and a mortal) and are taken back to Camp Half-Blood where they meet other demigod children like themselves. There, Leo is revealed as a son of Hephaestus, Piper as a daughter of Aphrodite, and Jason as a son of Zeus and the brother of Thalia. He remembers his sister while seeing a picture of her in Cabin One. After scarcely 24 hours of learning about their previously hidden identities, the three receive an urgent quest to rescue Hera, queen of the gods, who was captured by unnamed forces.

This book hits the ground running, and doesn’t stop until the end, where Riordan sets you up for the sequel, in classic Riordan style.  The action is great, and the monsters are wonderful.  There is even a mechanical dragon, which I find to be an interesting idea.  I liked this book and will definitely be reading the sequel, The Son of Neptune when it debuts in October for sure!

Land of Nod – The Artifact’  is one of those genre-bending tales that sucks you in and soon you are hooked. It is a little bit sci-fi and a lot fantasy.  The plot details the adventures of Jeff Browning, a fourteen year old boy who is struggling with the loss of his father. Jeff has dreams that frighten him and he tries to avoid sleep as much as he can. One day he decides to search his late father's locked office, and while he is in there he finds a strange machine with a hole in the center that leads to somewhere else. He climbs into it and embarks on a strange series of adventures; finding that his father may not be dead; but is actually there too, somewhere.

There are some similarities to 'The Lost Hero' in 'The Land of Nod - The Artifact.  In Riordan's 'TheLost Hero' Jason suffers from amnesia.  In 'Land of Nod - The Artifact' Jeff Browning feigns amnesia in an effort to conceal that he is not from that world.   Also, Jeff, too, has mysterious powers that aren't fully explained but they are hinted at, rather strongly, as being more fully explained at a later date.
Fortunately, Jeff is taken in by a family, and they help him.  As he begins searching for his father, he is accused by some of being a spy, and is thought by others to be a prophesied figure, 'The Raja' a savior who may be the key to victory in a war that is looming on the horizon.  This is because of the locket which he wears that his father gave him years before.
This world is populated by fantastic and dangerous creatures and also an advanced society of humans. That society, while very different from those on earth, parallels Jeff's earth in many ways.  

Hoover blends science and technology with mysticism and prophecy to create a world that is both familiar and strange.  There are many different issues keeping Jeff from finding his father, from useless politicians whose self interest outweighs the greater good to a war that he eventually finds himself in the middle of.
The characters are well drawn, and the strange world is also well crafted. The beasts that Jeff must fight are quite frightening and the battles are very realistic. While this is a great stand-alone tale Hoover sets you up for a sequel quite neatly, and I will definitely be looking forward to it! This is another good adventure book for readers of all ages. I enjoyed this book immensely and highly recommend it!


Dean Lappi said...

Hi Connie. You write a great blog. I always enjoy reading what you have to say. Thanks! Dean

Kathleen Barker said...

You always make me want to read anything you review, Connie. My list just keeps getting longer!

Lisa Zhang Wharton said...

Great blog. I have read books by Rick Riordan. And I really would like to read Gary's book since I know what is about.

jennymilch said...

These reviews definitely make you want to read--and it's not even my genre!

Connie J Jasperson said...

Thanks all for your comments! I love reading, and fantasy is my favorite genre.