Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Hidden Oracle | Book Review

The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1), by Rick Riordan
Published: May 2016, by Puffin
Length: 374 pages
Genre: Middle-Grade, Fantasy, Mythology

My Rating: 4 Stars

It's been a while since Riordan published a book in the Percy Jackson universe. Well - by a 'while', I mean a year and a half, but that was long enough!

I would like to start out by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Percy Jackson. I was a little late on jumping on the Percy-Band waggon, only picking up the series in 2012, but once I began, I was completely hooked.
Then, along came The Heroes of Olympus, which I didn't love quite as much as Percy Jackson, but still filled the Percy-shaped hole in my heart that had been there since The Last Olympian. You can actually read my review for The Heroes of Olympus by clicking the link here!!

When I heard that Rick Riordan was bringing out a new series with the same characters from Percy Jackson and The Heroes of Olympus, I was excited to say the least! I was sooooo looking forward to hearing from Percy and Annabeth and everybody else. I loved Apollo from the other series, so I was immensely excited to be able to read more about him; he was such a fun character!
But when The Trials of Apollo was actually released back in May, I'd kind-of-accidentally forgotten about it... Oops. Needless to say, I was so surprised to see it in a shop in June, having not realised it had been released! So, obviously, I had to buy it!!

The Hidden Oracle picks up a short time after The Blood of Olympus left off:

After angering his father, Zeus, Apollo is punished by being sent to Earth to live life as a mortal. After falling from the skies and landing in a pile of garbage in the middle of New York City, in the form of a weak, acne-covered teenage boy. Apollo must learn how to survive without his godly powers and find refuge in the only place he knows - Camp Half-Blood.
If Apollo intends on surviving as a mortal, he must embrace the help of his children and other demi-gods in order to fight the monsters and other gods who have sworn to wipe out Apollo at the earliest opportunity...

I went into this book quite optimistic and excited...
I came out of it in two minds...

On one hand, The Hidden Oracle was hilarious book with scenes that had me chuckling to myself thanks to the vibrant characters and gripping storyline.
On the other hand, I just feel like Riordan is selling himself out a little.

But let's not get onto that quite yet...

The Hidden Oracle was in no way a bad book. I really enjoyed it.
I love all of Rick Riordan's characters and Apollo was no exception. Okay, he was a bit of an idiot, but that's also why he was so likable. He was so self-righteous and unaware of everybody else that his narration was just funny, mainly down to his stupidity. But at the end of the day, he still had some good traits, which made him quite well-rounded overall. I found his narration fun and quirky to read.

I loved the newer characters we were introduced to, like Meg, who also happened to be a well-rounded and, might I say, surprising character.
Possibly my favourite thing about this book, though, was the fact that Percy was in it. I loved hearing from the older characters, like Chiron, Nico, Rachel, and everyone else from Camp Half-Blood. It was so lovely to have familiar characters in, so I didn't have to struggle to get to know everybody and have to learn names and back-stories.

The writing in The Hidden Oracle is standard Riordan. And by that I mean practically flawless. It was easy to read (which I do actually appreciate sometimes in a book!), it was gripping and entertaining, and it was utterly hilarious, as always.

So in that respect, The Hidden Oracle was a fabulous book and everyone should read it. And if that was all I was judging the book on, that it what I would say and I would leave it at that. However that is not quite the case...

My main issue with the novel was its story. I honestly just didn't find it all that entertaining.
I wouldn't particularly say that the storyline was anything special or original, and honestly, it's not dissimilar to Riordan's other books in the respect of a recurring storyline.
Yes, there were some twists and turns in this book that were not in any of the others, but I don't think it particularly had a different feeling to it in comparison to all of Riordan's others.

In a similar way to this, I was quite frustrated over the 'fit' of this novel in terms of other Rick Riordan books. To me, it seemed that it was written so that if you hadn't already read all of the books with the Greek and Roman gods in, they would be spoiled from this book, and you couldn't enjoy The Hidden Oracle without already reading the rest of the books due to lack of knowledge.
I am fully aware of the fact that other authors do this too and it is not only Riordan, but I do feel that this way takes advantage of the reader a little bit.

Also, I felt that I couldn't fully enjoy and appreciate this book simply because of the fact that it just seemed to be setting up the story line for the rest of the series - and of course this was going to be a series.
The Trials of Apollo is set out to be a series of 5 books, the same as Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and The Heroes of Olympus. But I'm honestly not sure whether or not this is necessary... I've just felt that, to say how much of an amazing writer Rick Riordan is, he's starting to sell himself out a little.

That doesn't mean to say I'm not going to read the rest of his books. As long as he keeps up his great writing, he will keep me as an avid reader. But will I read his books as soon as physically possible and fangirl for hours over them? Probably not, no. Which is sad, because I would love to be as excited towards this series as I was for the previous ones.
I suppose we'll just have to wait and see what the next book brings!

Despite what may seem like quite a negative review, I honestly still did enjoy The Hidden Oracle immensely and I still have high hopes for the rest of the series. I gave The Hidden Oracle 4 out of 5 stars because I loved the characters and storytelling, but I did think that it lacked a little in terms of originality.
I probably have to recommend this book only to people who have read both the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and The Heroes of Olympus series, as if you have not yet read those books, The Trials of Apollo will spoil them.
Rick Riordan books are classed as 'Middle-Grade', so are 'intended' for children around the ages of 9 to 12, but I honestly feel that anyone could read them and still enjoy them, no matter how old they are. I feel like Rick Riordan books are a lot like Harry Potter in terms of audience appeal; no matter what the age of the reader, everyone can enjoy them!

That's all for this review but I hope to be back for more very soon!

Have you read The Hidden Oracle? I'd love to know what you thought about it!

Charlotte xxx

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