The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Might contain spoilers.
A fitting end to a superb series. The Rachel-Percy-Annabeth-Luke conundrum is resolved in such a
tidy and almost comical fashion: Rachel tells Percy
it wasn’t about you and me after three
books of tension and even some dating, while Annabeth tells Luke
I loved you like a brother,
having spent five books mooning after him. And then, of course, the entire camp shows up, led by
Clarisse of all people, to cheer Percy and Annabeth on after they finally kiss. But I love the whole
thing, because Percy and Annabeth belong together. I just want to see them happy.
Hestia’s speech about being the last Olympian brings a lump to my throat every time I think of it. There is something so moving and poignant about it. Meanwhile, I would have liked to see more of Prometheus, who came across as very different from the other Titans.
One thing Percy Jackson and the Olympians does very well is to show how the Greek gods truly are reflections of human beings, with all their foibles and shortsightedness, such as how ready they are to smite the very people who are aiding them and doing their bidding. I suppose all the gods are awful in their own way and do terrible things from time to time, and Hades has been much abused by the others besides, but it feels as though he’s gotten away with something. And it always feels as if Ares is getting away with something. Making Kronos’s puppet someone so mean, arrogant, and unlikeable in the first book was a very clever idea. So was framing Hades, in the same way.
Rick Riordan is a master of tone, too. The entire series is the perfect example of how to write about darkness, terrifying events, and horrific consequences without miring the story in despair and hopelessness—quite the opposite. It’s determinedly cheerful and humorous even in its blackest moments, yet never loses sight of what matters. It makes me think of K. A. Applegate’s Animorphs , another series aimed at the same age group—I was probably 10 years old when I began reading it—that’s similarly extremely funny, written in an authentically young voice, and about teenagers saving the universe, but steeped in darkness from the beginning, and which only gets darker and bleaker as it progresses. I wish it had been more like this.
I wonder whether Riordan already had a vague outline of Heroes of Olympus in mind when he wrote the new prophecy at the end or whether it was just something that sounded good at the time. Oh, and what’s with that moment when an injured Annabeth gets a ‘faraway look’ in her eyes and asks Percy about his weak spot? Does it lead to something I missed?
- In hindsight, I should perhaps never have read anything else set in this universe.↩