By Mason Kelly, Special to SantaCruzWire.com
SANTA CRUZ (July 2010) - After the blockbuster hit movie and extremely popular book series, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” author Rick Riordan was hard pressed to write another book anywhere near as good as his previous series. A lot of people thought it couldn’t be done. Well, if you were one of those people, think again, because Rick Riordan’s newest release, “The Red Pyramid” is already starting to look like an enormous hit.
Riordan's newest heroes, siblings Carter and Sadie Kane, make humorous, enjoyable main characters in the first book of the series, “The Kane Chronicles.” Carter and Sadie argue and fight and argue some more. They are a perfect brother and sister.
One of the unique things about the book is that it is written in first person, with the main characters alternately telling the story. They act like they are talking into a tape recorder, the microphone seems to switch between the two of them.
There are a lot of similarities between “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” and “The Kane Chronicles.” They are both about Gods (Kane: Egyptian - Percy Jackson: Greek.) Their main characters are all around the age of 13. And both books have lots of magic, swordplay and monsters. Also, both have a blend of drama and comedy which makes Rick’s stories very enjoyable for readers of any age.
Ever since their mother’s death, the Kanes' lives have been very different. Carter travels the world with his dad (an Egyptologist) and has to live out of a suitcase. The traveling makes it almost impossible for Carter to make lasting friendships.
Sadie, on the other hand, is sent to her grandparents in England. In school, she was always the odd girl from America. She dyes strands of her hair different colors to prove that she doesn’t care about standing out.
In this story, the kids have multiple enemies: “Set,” the evil God of Deserts, Storms, Darkness and Chaos, and the “House,” a group of ancient magicians led by the corrupt magician Desjardins. But it’s not until the very end of the book that Sadie and Carter realize the identity of their true enemy.
To achieve their goal, the children must travel to Brooklyn, Phoenix, and the land of the dead. They are assisted by many friends, including the cat Goddess Bast, their magician Uncle Amos and a magician named Zia who, for half the book, works for the House. They have to fight through Set’s demons and the House's magicians constantly. They are always on the run.
One of the things that impresses me the most about Riordan's writing is how lifelike he makes his characters. When I first started to read the Percy Jackson series the believability of the characters really popped out at me. I felt like I could relate to what Percy was going through. I mean, not the fighting monsters part, but the troubles he had at home and at school.
Riordan's new characters sound just as lifelike. They aren’t heroic teens, with no fear, facing down giant dragon monster thingies. They are regular teens who discover hidden powers within themselves, and are thrust into a miraculous adventure.
The Red Pyramid is a wonderful book. I would give it four and a half stars (out of five) for humor, adventure and excitement. (I subtracted half a star because I think it is a little repetitive of Percy Jackson and the Olympians.) It has a wonderful plotline that most grownups would enjoy too. I would definitely recommend this book to any person between the age of 8 and 80. But if you are going to buy this book, beware. It is only the first in a series, so you had better be willing to buy more!
Mason Kelly is currently 12 years old, and is enrolled at Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School in Santa Cruz. He loves playing sports, and his favorites include beach volleyball, snowboarding, skiing and basketball. The only thing he love more than sports is reading. He reads about five hours per day (not kidding!) and also loves writing about books. His favorite series is Percy Jackson and the Olympians, though he thinks the Kane Chronicles might soon be a rival.