Book Review: ‘The Hidden Oracle’ (2016)

The short: 3.5/5 ✦. This book is another sassy romp through Camp Half-Blood, this time with the egomaniacal Apollo, spectacular god now turned spotty human.

The long:

I kinda feel bad about knocking off half a star for a Riordan book. It’s not that I didn’t like The Hidden Oracle, I did! I just didn’t like, well, the main character: Apollo.

AND THAT’S ALL ON ME, I ADMIT IT. 

It’s very much the same reason that I don’t usually like comic relief characters in TV shows and movies; I find them more annoying than funny, more exasperating than amusing. (I know, I’m stuffy and boring, I GET IT.)

Apollo is extremely self centered and arrogant and so overly dramatic, and yes, it’s supposed to be funny, and it very often is. But he’s just not my favorite kind of character, and it’s one thing to have people like him around as sidekicks or in small doses, like most of the goofy gods are in the Riordan ‘verse, but to have his constant POV? A bit grating.

(heh, get it, it’s hades. because greek and such. 8D)

But like, that’s literally the only gripe I have about this first book in the new Trials of Apollo series?? As I said, Apollo’s perspective was a little tough to get used to, because Riordan has to sustain the continuity of the gods being rather silly and narcissistic while ultimately making Apollo likable. (And he does pull it off.) Apollo is basically a teenage MCU Thor (whom I’m not a fan of, either, which probably explains a lot). The prose is also much more stylized and purpley to suit Apollo’s dramatic narration, and so the book has a rough start but manages to smooth itself out once we get into familiar Camp Half-Blood territory.

The book chronologically takes place after the Heroes of Olympus series and roughly at the same time as the Magnus Chase series, though I think there will only be sparse references to the latter. Characters from the former are, of course, everywhere, and I’m sure any questions left over from that series, as well as from the original Percy Jackson books, will be answered in this one. Speaking of, while all of Riordan’s books are shelved as Middle Grade, the tone of this one is much more similar to the Percy books rather than Heroes or Magnus, being simplistic in word choice and plot and heavy in humor and exposition. The Hidden Oracle is also quite a bit shorter than those two, again, about the same size as the Percy ones. So if Heroes and Magnus are at the 12 end of being for 10- to 12-year-olds, then Percy and Trials are closer to the 10, if that make sense.

ANYWAY, I know I’m making this book sound not so good, but it’s really quite excellent. All of Riordan’s trademark sass is here, we get fun, interesting, diverse new characters, old characters get further development (hi Nico and Will), and there’s prophesies and pop culture references galore. As I’ve said before, if you’ve liked these books so far, you’re gonna like this one too. And there’s four more on the way! The Dark Prophecy is next!! AAHHH!!!

Header image: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan, published May 3rd 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

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