Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
279 pages

The Sea of Monsters is the second book in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. It is hilarious, action-packed and has a great message about family and loyalty. Percy is completing his school year at Merriwether College Prep, an experimental school for troubled kids where they don't receive grades, when he has a nightmare about his best friend Grover. In the nightmare Grover is being chased by a monster and runs into a wedding dress boutique. Grover says that he has to warn his friends in the vision. Percy wakes up and instinctively feels something is wrong. His mother tells him that it isn't safe to go to Camp Half-Blood for the summer yet, but she doesn't tell him why. Percy goes to school for the last day and disaster strikes when the school bully leads a game of fiery dodge ball with visiting giant cannibals. Percy is protected by his gangly, outcast friend Tyson, who exhibits superhuman strength and an ability to withstand fire from the dodge balls. Just as Percy and Tyson are about to be killed, Annabeth shows up in her invisible cap and helps them escape from the gymnasium. She tells Percy that Tyson is a young Cyclopes and is immune to fire.

Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson take a taxi cab driven by the Gray Sisters to Camp Half-Blood. The Gray Sisters state three numbers to Percy and say that is where the thing he is looking for is. Percy is perplexed. When they arrive at camp they find Clarisse, Ares' daughter, leading other campers in a fight against large fire breathing metal bulls. The three of them join the fight and Tyson rescues Percy from one of the bulls by pounding its face in. After the bulls are subdued, Percy finds out that someone has poisoned Thalia's tree and the magical protective borders are weakening. The camp will be completely vulnerable unless the tree is somehow revived. Chiron was dismissed from his position as activities director because he is suspected by the gods for being related to Kronos. The new activities director, Tantalus, is excessively harsh and sets curfews and perimeter lines for the campers, threatening death if they break the rules. Percy has to adjust to the rules and to the fact that Tyson is his cabin mate after Poseidon claims Tyson as his son. Percy feels ashamed that Tyson is his half-brother because everyone makes fun of him for it. Percy is telepathically informed by Grover that he is trapped on an island and about to be eaten by a giant Cyclopes. Percy tells Grover that he is going to find a way to rescue him.

One evening Percy is approached by Olympian god Hermes who asks Percy to find his son Luke to see if he can help him change his mind about working for Kronos. Hermes gives Percy gifts such as healing vitamins to help him on this journey. However, no camper is allowed to leave, except for Clarisse who was offered a quest to get the Golden Fleece to heal Thalia's tree. Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson leave camp despite the risk and ride on the backs of hippocampi to the ship Princess Andromeda at Hermes' request. When they board the ship they notice something is wrong with the passengers. They reach a cabin where Luke and his minions, half-bear twins, Oreius and Agrius, take them captive. Luke reveals that Kronos' body is re-forming piece by piece in a sarcophagus. Annabeth calls Luke crazy and Tyson nearly attacks Luke, but the twins bind them. Luke orders the three of them to be fed to the drakon below deck. As they leave Luke's cabin, they escape from the twins and flee from the ship on a lifeboat. Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson reach shore and seek refuge at an old half-blood hiding place. Shortly after Tyson finds a monster donut shop they are attacked by multi-headed Hydra. They are nearly overwhelmed when Clarisse arrives with her ship the CSS Birmingham and blows the Hydra to bits. They climb aboard her ship and sail with her to the sea of monsters.

When the CSS Birmingham reaches the sea of monsters, the ship is destroyed by sea monster sisters, Charybdis and Scylla. Percy and Annabeth are separated on a life boat leaving Percy in agony over Tyson's fate. Percy and Annabeth reach the dock of a spa resort where Percy is turned into a guinea pig by a man-hating sorceress named Circe. Annabeth saves Percy, who takes Hermes' vitamins to turn back to normal. They take a ship from the dock and sail to the coordinates that the Gray Sisters told Percy earlier. The island is the home of Polyphemus, the owner of the Golden Fleece who has been tricking satyrs for centuries into believing his magically enhanced land was the location of the god Pan. Polyphemus would have eaten Grover a long time ago if Grover was not wearing a wedding dress and pretending that he was a female Cyclopes. Percy and Annabeth plan a strategy to trick Polyphemus into freeing Grover, but their plans are slightly derailed when they see that Clarisse has been captured too. Nonetheless, they maneuver their way around the surprise with the help of Tyson, who has emerged in time to save them again. Tyson retrieves the Golden Fleece and they escape the island and the wrath of Polyphemus on hippocampi. The hippocampi swim them to Miami. They give Clarisse the money Hermes gave them to buy a plane ticket back to Camp Half-Blood. While Percy is trying to decide how they'd get back home, Luke confronts them and makes them board Princess Andromeda.

Percy tricks Luke into confessing he poisoned Thalia's tree in front of Camp Half-Blood using a rainbow message. When Luke finds out that Clarisse has left with the Fleece he orders his followers to kill Percy, Tyson, and Annabeth again. Percy stalls by challenging Luke to a duel. As the duel gets deadly Chiron and a gang of fellow centaurs jump aboard and rescue Percy, Tyson, and Annabeth. Chiron explains that he was keeping tabs on Percy and that he was happy Percy cleared his name to return as activities director. They return to camp and find that Clarisse is being honored while they are being ignored, though they don't mind. Percy receives a letter from his father Poseidon to brace himself. Tyson leaves camp to work underwater as a forger and gives Percy a watch that can turn into a shield. Soon afterwards there is a commotion around the Hill. Percy runs to the hill and sees a girl lying in front of Thalia's tree. She gains consciousness and introduces herself as Thalia daughter of Zeus. Percy is shocked and remembers the prophecy about a child of the Big Three that will determine the fate of the Olympians. He knows that Kronos plans to use either him or Thalia in his plan to overthrow the gods, but he doesn't know which one of them.

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