Title: The Sea of Monsters
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Author: Rick Riordan
ISBN: 9781423103349
Pages: 279 pages
Publisher/Date: Disney Hyperion Books, c2006.

“Brake!” yelled Anger.
Instead, Wasp floored the accelerator and rode up on the curb, screeching around another corner, and knocking over a newpaper box. She left my stomach somewhere back on Broome Street.
“Excuse me,” I said. “But. . . can you see?”
“No!” screamed Wasp from behind the wheel.
“No!” screamed Tempest from the middle.
“Of course!” screamed Anger by the shotgun window.
I looked at Annabeth. “They’re blind?”
“Not completely,” Annabeth said. “They have an eye.”
“One eye?”
“No. One eye total.”
Next to me, Tyson groaned and grabbed the seat. “Not feeling so good.” (32)

Percy Jackson has had a relatively uneventful school year compared to last year, when he saved the planet from a war between the Greek gods by finding Zeus’s lightning bolt. This all changes the last day of school when three things happen that change his summer plans. He dreams that his satyr friend Grover is hiding out in a wedding dress shop. His new homeless friend Tyson saves him from death by dodgeball with some giant cannibals. Annabeth suddenly appears to inform him there’s trouble brewing at Camp Half-Blood with the magical border being poisoned and some monsters penetrating the only safe haven for half-bloods. The only thing that might save them is to follow the trail of Odysseus and enter the Sea of Monsters, battling obstacles the whole way. Will Percy’s new powers be enough to save the camp and his friends?

I think the thing that sets this series apart is not only the humor and action and adventure, but the little mythological tidbits that are seemlessly interwoven into the mix. There’s no big asides, no forwards, no glossery of gods, and the truth is that they aren’t needed. I think even someone with absolutely no knowledge of the Greek Pantheon would still be able to follow the action and the events. A background knowledge is great because you can better predict where the story is going, but it doesn’t allow you to be as surprised when C.C. the spa owner becomes … well, I shouldn’t spoil it for people who don’t know.

The humor is also great in these books. The portion I excerpted above is one of my favorites, but there’s numerous parts, including when the Hydra makes a repeat appearance, Annabeth and Percy assume the identity of “Nobody” while battling a cyclops, and centaurs firing paintball guns. Rick Riordan tells the story with a dry sarcastic wit that will appeal to lots of teen and tween readers. English major that I am, there is one typo that I found (there’s a missing “T” in the Taxi company’s sign on page 30) and the only reason I noticed it was because I was trying to decipher Percy’s dyslexic reading of it.

I think that’s another thing that I like about this series. Myth addicts have probably heard about the “flawed hero” trend, but Percy really isn’t perfect, relying on a few friends to help him who are better at stuff then him through either natural ability or hard work. He’s ready to admit that he’s out of practice with his sword play and that he can’t fight the cyclops by himself, and he doesn’t know his myths as well as he should, even if they are a part of his life. Even two months after making the first book into a movie, we still have an impressive hold list, and it just proves the popularity of the series. I’ve got my name on the list for the third one.