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The Battle of the Labyrinth: Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Book Four

Review

The Battle of the Labyrinth: Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Book Four

The secret's out --- Rick Riordan's series of novels featuring Percy (short for Perseus) Jackson and his unusual group of friends from Camp Half-Blood are bestselling favorites for children looking for a great blend of humor, magic, mystery and adventure. And shhhh --- don't tell the kids, but there's also a lot of bona fide Greek mythology that crops up in this series centered on the half-mortal, half-divine children of Aphrodite, Hephaestus and the other Greek gods. As for Percy, he's the son of Poseidon, but that doesn't mean he's not just like any other kid on the block. Well, maybe not just like. He might have ADHD and dyslexia, but Percy can still find and destroy some truly hideous monsters with the best heroes there are.

Percy has his work cut out for him right off the bat. Attending new-student orientation at his new New York City school (where his mom's new boyfriend is on the faculty), he begins to suspect something very…sinister…about the cheerleader welcoming committee. Sure enough, these perky pompom-toting girls are actually mythological monsters in disguise. Thanks to Percy's trusty pen-sword, the threats are quickly dispatched, but not before one of them makes a cryptic threat about burning down Camp Half-Blood and enslaving all his friends.

Set on edge by this prophecy, Percy heads back to camp with his best friend (and possible love interest) Annabeth. There he learns that evil cheerleaders are the least of his problems. Luke, the former counselor (and son of Hermes) who has betrayed his former friends for the side of the evil Titan Kronos, has a new plan to invade the once-impenetrable camp fortresses by means of an entrance to the nebulous, complicated Labyrinth. Soon, Percy, Annabeth and their friends (including Percy's Cyclops half-brother) must find their own way into this sprawling labyrinth to see if they can stop Luke's power play once and for all.

Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series has won accolades among both critics and readers for its combination of real-world places and otherworldly antics. Tongue-in-cheek narration combines with a steady stream of grotesque monsters, perilous dangers and surprising plot twists for a nearly nonstop reading adventure. Surprisingly, though, Riordan manages to insert not only accurate depictions of Greek mythology but also some pretty involved philosophical issues about loyalty, family and even the environment, all without slowing the breakneck pace for a second.

Percy and his friends continue to mature and become more complex through the series (he has girl trouble now, for one thing), as do their adventures. The story arc has remained unified and compelling, and although readers who pick up the series midstream won't be disappointed, they'll certainly want to go back and start over from the beginning. And heck, even those who have already read all four Olympian adventures will probably want to re-read from the beginning as they wait with bated breath for the conclusion of Percy's adventures in book five.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 6, 2008

The Battle of the Labyrinth: Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Book Four
by Rick Riordan

  • Publication Date: May 6, 2008
  • Hardcover: 361 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
  • ISBN-10: 1423101464
  • ISBN-13: 9781423101468