The Sea of Monsters – Rick Riordan

the sea of monstersReading level: 4.7
Lexile: 740
Series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians book 2
Genre: Adventure, myth
ELL-Friendly: Mostly
Library recommendation: Middle school

Goodreads summary:

The heroic son of Poseidon makes an action-packed comeback in the second must-read installment of Rick Riordan’s amazing young readers series. Starring Percy Jackson, a “half blood” whose mother is human and whose father is the God of the Sea, Riordan’s series combines cliffhanger adventure and Greek mythology lessons that results in true page-turners that get better with each installment. In this episode, The Sea of Monsters, Percy sets out to retrieve the Golden Fleece before his summer camp is destroyed, surpassing the first book’s drama and setting the stage for more thrills to come.

Rick Riordan’s done it again. There’s always the fear that books will get worse as the series progresses (The Hunger Games, anyone?), but The Sea of Monsters was pretty much golden. I did like The Lightning Thief better but only because it was our introduction to this magical world of gods and goddesses, and the introduction is always magical (okay, I’ll say it: Yer a wizard, Harry).

I’m enjoying our trio of characters becoming a cohesive unit, even if silly Grover is absent for most of the book. I wasn’t sure about Annabeth at first (like I wasn’t sure about Hermione who was, let’s face it, an annoying know-it-all), but she’s definitely becoming friendlier and like-able. She’s got her rough spots, but her soft spots are starting to show through.

And who doesn’t adore Tyson? I absolutely love the message of acceptance that we learn by Percy being friends with him and finally accepting him as his true brother. Here’s a reminder that everyone needs a friend and to belong somewhere.

We hate Luke. We’re supposed to hate Luke because Luke is a terrible person. But he’s just a kid, really. The author brilliantly sets us up to hate him while fanning a small flame of an idea that Luke can be saved. I’m a big fan of bullies turning nice. At this point, I really don’t know if Luke will turn into the ultimate evil or return to being a regular demigod.

I’m also wondering about Clarisse. We hate her too. Will she ever be redeemed? She’s a jerk, but she’s no killer like Luke, although there’s really nothing likeable to her. I’m guessing we’ll see some soft spots in Clarisse’s armor, much like we do with Drako Malfoy near the end of the Harry Potter series. There is hope for our villains yet.

Then there’s Percy. He’s a funny guy, making me smile or laugh quietly myself as I listen to the audiobook. I appreciate that the author wrote him with some flaws like not listening to authority, ADHD, and dyslexia. Percy embraces his weaknesses but moves beyond them, not letting those flaws define him. Like Harry Potter, he jumps at the opportunity to save his friends and/or the world, never giving his decisions a second thought, because he knows what’s right.

For commentary about appropriateness for ELL and grade level recommendation, see The Lightning Thief.

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