Published by Hyperion Books for Children on March 6th 2008
Percy Jackson isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears at his potential new school, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.
In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos's army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth - a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.
Finally, after 3 previous books we get into the real meat of the Percy Jackson series. Now you may ask, “uh, why would I spend all this time reading these books if they don’t really get good until books 3 or 4?” I understand this sentiment.
For hardcore readers, our reading time is precious. Why would we waste it on mediocre stories? And yes, maybe the first few books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series are a little rough, but they are a small set of the overall content in the world and do a lot of the back breaking work sketching out the universe to be enjoyed in later installments. You’ve got to see the gods as they are in this world, have them related to mortals and half bloods, and start a war all at the same time. It’s big business. But finally we reach the thick of it and the war has truly begun.
Like previous books in this series BATTLE OF THE LABYRINTH shows a lot of exposition through dreams and visions. This book also pairs that with a significant time spent in the past during these visions, as well as the usual present ones. A character’s entire life is played out this way, which I think moves the story along better and faster than talking about it. We saw a little bit of this during TITAN’S CURSE and I think it’s part of what makes these two books better than the first ones.
Percabeth is alive and well in this novel. However, the two characters do spend a lot of time playing the “will they, won’t they” game with a small hint at some love triangle business. I can’t say its my favorite way to ship them, but at least we’re much farther into some sort of a relationship than we have been in past books. Riordan sure does take his sweet time building their relationship over years. I just wish Annabeth didn’t come off as such a grump for half the book.
I think the thing I loved the most about this book is the stakes. As was true with TITAN’s CURSE, this book seems to have more riding on it. People actually lose friends, family, and no one comes back to life via magical golden fleece. Here, dead is dead and it’s not just heroes suffering losses. I like to see that there’s a bit more darkness to this world, that it’s not going to be so easy to defeat the Big Bad. I feel like these later books do that much better than earlier installments do.
I recommend this book for younger YA readers interested in mythology with a little darker tone.
So, with the completion of BATTLE OF THE LABYRINTH we have only one more book before we can start the Heroes of Olympus reread (which was the entire point of rereading these books in the first place). Admittedly I have not even finished this series, as by the time books 4 and 5 came out I had completely forgotten what was going on. With luck I can complete that set by the end of the year and move on to Trials of Apollo.
So, what is you favorite Riordan series? Share your pick in the comments.
From my shelf to yours,