A young adult fiction series which will help you remain ‘young at heart’!
He’s done it again! Prolific Young adult writer Rick Riordan has completed another outstanding mythological fiction series. This time featuring Lester Papadopoulos, an unremarkable chubby pimple faced teen….. who by the way is the god Apollo, banished from Olympus by his father Zeus, to earth as the mortal Lester- until he can complete a series of trials to regain his immortality and return to Olympus to re-join his fellow gods! If this all sounds too fanciful for you? Then Rick Riordan’s books are probably not for you, and I permit you to skip this blog post.
However, if you are a fan of Rick’s, or you’ve always loved the Greek and Roman mythologies, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy this 5-part series which includes the books:
The Hidden Oracle (2016)
The Dark Prophecy (2017)
The Burning Maze (2018)
The Tyrant’s Tomb (2019), and
The Tower of Nero (2020)
But if you’re new to Rick Riordan’s books, reading his earlier series will greatly help you to fully immerse yourself into the Trials of Apollo series, as it leans heavily on prior knowledge and re-visits many past characters from his earlier series (Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus).
What I liked:
Like an episode of ‘Where are they now?’
For us, a few years had passed since we last heard from Percy, Jason and the rest of the Greek and Roman demigods, so the Apollo series acted like an episode of ‘Whare are they now?’ In this series we learn that the kids are all grown up, now in senior school or about to head off to college. And it was great, some open-ended storylines from previous books were finally closed off. So, for many who grew up with Rick’s character’s, there was a sense of closure- although not all endings were happy ones…….
What Rick is good at, is introducing the subject of ancient history in a fun and culturally relevant way to kids, who otherwise wouldn’t have found it an interesting subject if taught at school. So, suddenly ancient history is totally cool now! Not something irrelevant and out-of-date for kids of the 2020s. Which then translates to more kids wanting to do their own further reading, which is the aim! Rick’s goal of making reading fun and cool for all kids. Not to mention, it has once again piqued my curiosity in Greek mythology, I wouldn’t mind doing some additional reading of my own.
Rick has always worked into his books a healthy amount of chuckles for his readers. As previously he mentioned, the original reason why he got writing books was for his kids- and you can picture him working in these jokes, so he could make his own kids laugh. And to date Trials of Apollo has been the funniest, if the amount of times my wife was laughing out loud is an indication. The chuckles begin right from the funny titles Rick gives to his chapters, to re-occurring supporting characters like the Karpos aka ‘Demon Baby’ Peaches, and Lester’s Shakespearean sounding companion, ‘The arrow of Dodona – each of their appearances are bound to result in chuckles.
And for those who will listen to the book rather than read it, the narration by Robbie Daymond was truly next level! Robbie’s voice acting added to the entire experience, his voices for characters utterly surprised me at times. I honestly couldn’t believe that it was one person who was doing all the voices, they were totally convincing. And the brilliant thing was that the Publishers maintained the same narrator throughout the 5-book series spanning 5 years. Oftentimes in series like these, they change narrators between books, for one reason or another- which frankly ruins books as a different voice applied to the same character can ruin one’s mental image of characters. But the consistency of narrators, and specifically Robbie, this was truly an upside for the series and the whole experience!
What I didn’t like:
I know where Rick is going with this, he’s trying to make his books inclusive so none of his young readers would ever feel left out or feel like they don’t see themselves represented in mainstream culture. I get that. But in his attempts to be inclusive and embracing of all, was he unknowingly discriminating and derogative to a large segment of the youth population? That being those who might be unremarkable, or chubby, or pimply, or all the above? I just didn’t like Rick’s/Apollo’s constant self-deprecation and self-loathing of Lester’s outward appearance. As what does that say to his readers who happen to be as he describes Lester to be? How are they meant to feel? So, I can see why he does this, for the sake of the story to highlight how far ‘Apollo has fallen’, but if he could have toned it down just a little? As being a former chubby kid with acne, on-behalf of my 13-year-old self, I felt outrage and was getting pretty put off towards the end. Rick, in attempts to appease the minority, let’s not ostracize a good majority of our youth.
But all in all, The Trials of Apollo series has been a real enjoyment, we literally read the 5-book series back-to-back, taking us at least 6 months to complete. It has been a great quest and if you want to check out the Trial of Apollo series for yourself? Just click HERE!