Book: The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1)
Author: Rick Riordan
I was really excited when I first heard about this book because I knew it was going to be back at Camp Half Blood and hopefully featuring some familiar faces, plus Apollo has always been one of my favourite Gods, I love the way Riordan portrays him, he’s so hilarious, so I was really happy when I saw that this series was going to be all about him. I know some people say that Rick Riordan is milking the Percy Jackson world by doing so many series set in that universe but personally, anything he wants to write in this universe, I will read because I love this world and characters and this book was no exception. I loved being back in a world that is so familiar to me, these characters feel like old friends to me by now, though there are some new faces in this book. I cannot wait for the sequel now, May feels like so long away! How those of you who read this when it first came out have managed the year long wait, I do not know! Here is a short synopsis of the book:
How do you punish an immortal?
By making him human.
After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.
But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.
First off, I loved that this book had a map at the front of it. I’ve been wanting to see a map of Camp Half-Blood for years and now that we finally have one, I feel like I can picture the camp even better in my head than I did before, plus I just love maps, so I got ridiculously excited when this book started with a map!
I loved Apollo. I mean I really loved the glimpses of Apollo that we have had before in Riordan’s other books, but actually being in his head was a whole new level of hilariousness. I have always said that I prefer it when Riordan writes in first person, and this book was no exception, using the first person voice of Apollo was a stroke of genius. Plus because Apollo is a God, his voice sounds and feels a lot different that the demigod heroes of Riordan’s other series, his humour comes mainly from his self-obsession rather than sarcasm like Magnus or Percy. Apollo is a narcissistic asshole and he doesn’t bother trying to hide it (and I loved it!). Yet, despite him being incredibly narcissistic, there is something inherently charming and loveable about him, and I loved watching his character develop through the book, realising that being a human is not so easy and that they do have something to offer definitely mellowed Apollo out a little, but without him losing his trademark humour (gosh the scene where he finds out he has acne is hilarious!). I loved how protective he was of his demigod children, and of Meg (who we will get onto later). I also liked how Riordan included some of Apollo’s heartbreaks in the book as well because it definitely helped making him seem more human. I actually hadn’t known that Apollo had been made mortal before in the myths, so that was pretty cool to learn.
I loved the little haikus at the start of each chapter as they gave you a hint as to what was going to happen and Apollo is the god of poetry so it worked really well there too.
I liked the small appearances by Percy in the book. Could I have done with more? Probably but I could always do with more Percy! But I was happy enough with the scenes we got, after all, this is Apollo’s book, not Percy’s. I loved getting to see his mum again (because I love Percy’s mum, she’s awesome) and the fact that he’s getting a baby sister made me so happy! I can tell that Percy’s supposed quiet year is not going to last long at all though. Our favourite demigod will be back and getting into some trouble during this series. Poor Percy, his idea of a quiet year never quite works out! I also liked the small Magnus Chase tie-in with the mention of Annabeth and it was nice to hear what all of the other demigods were up to.
I really liked Meg. I have read reviews that said they found her irritating and I can kind of see why but I enjoyed her character, she was feisty and kind of prickly and quite a complicated character because you can tell she knows more than she’s telling throughout the book. I appreciated that she was a daughter of Demeter (not a spoiler, it’s revealed pretty early on) who was actually pretty strong because they’ve classically been portrayed as quite weak in Riordan’s other books. I also loved seeing her relationship with Apollo develop through the book from him finding her irritating to grudging respect to genuine caring. I don’t want to spoil anything about Meg’s backstory, as it would be a bit spoilery, but I will just say that I found it incredibly sad. I was shocked by the way her story ended in this book and I hope she’s okay in the next one!
I loved Harley, the young son of Hephaestus, he was so cute, he’s only 8 and you just want to give him a big hug (and then run away really quickly because the kid is dangerous!).
I really liked the storyline of this book because I got to learn a lot about the Oracles and the Roman Empire, things that I didn’t really know about before. That’s one thing I always love in Rick Riordan’s books, that I always learn something new about mythology that I never knew before! I did feel however that the story was a little slower paced than I’m used to from Riordan’s books and whilst there was still lots of excitement, I would have appreciated maybe a slightly faster pace. I did love being back at Camp Half-Blood and getting to explore new settings like the Woods, which played a much larger part in this book than they ever have before. I also loved the return of camp activities, the three legged death race through the Labyrinth (which I wasn’t expecting to return so that was pretty cool) was awesome!
I wasn’t expecting to see Rachel Dare in this book either and I probably should have considering that she is one of the priestesses of the Oracles and I really enjoyed seeing her back, since I like her a lot more now she isn’t chasing after Percy! I hope to see her more in the other books of the series.
The villains of this book were completely unexpected and I loved how Riordan weaved the events of this book so neatly into his other two Greek/Roman mythology series and how it seems like all the events of the past 10 books (10 books, it seriously doesn’t feel like it has been that many!) have been building up to this. I get the sense that this series is going to be heavily Roman focused which I like because I don’t know so much about Roman mythology but I hope there are still some Greek mythology references in there too!
I found the new gods that we hadn’t seen before that were introduced in this really funny, I especially loved Rhea as I wasn’t expecting to see her in this book and she was so hippy and chilled and feminist and she made me laugh so hard! I hope we see more of her later in the series!
I also really liked seeing more of Will and Nico, they make such a cute couple! I love the casual way sexuality was treated in this book, Apollo is clearly bisexual and it’s no big deal and Nico and Will are so cute and the fact that they are both guys is also never made a big deal of. I look forward to hopefully seeing more of their cute couple-ness in the next few books of this series.
The final battle was absolutely hilarious, it was quite a surprise really because the battle scenes are usually the one serious part of Rick Riordan’s books but this one was so funny, I laughed a lot the entire way through. In fact all the fight scenes in this book were pretty funny!
There were some surprises through the book, all of which I thought were pulled off really well. I particularly liked the last one as a favourite demigod of mine made an appearance and it seems like they (I don’t want to ruin the surprise and say who, so I’m not even going to use gender specific pronouns) are going to play a big part in the rest of the series, which makes me really happy because I think that this demigod and Apollo interacting is going to be hilarious, from the little scenes we got to see at the ending of the book, our new main group of heroes have a lot of potential.
Basically, this book is hilarious, with a great new main character in Apollo, an interesting, even if slightly slow plot, a return to the world that we all know and love and some cameos from beloved characters as well as some great new characters and villains. I need the second book of this series right now!
My rating: 4/5 (I took a mark off just because I found it a tad slow in places)
My next review will probably be of my next read, the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, as the e-ARC I am currently reading, Stealing Snow, will not be released until October, so if I finish it soon I’m going to wait a while before I publish the review.