Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Red Pyramid OR Percy Jackson Goes to Egypt

The Red Pyramid is Rick Riordan's newest novel for the pre-teen and teen set. In it, Carter and Sadie Kane find out they are members of an ancient family of magicians, entangled for millenia with the Egyptian gods. If this sounds a little reminiscent of the Percy Jackson and Olympians series, that's because it is.

Some things are quite different: there's the obvious difference between the Egyptian and Olympian gods, the heroes are a brother and sister, there's a society for magicians which is distinctly unwelcoming to the pair, and there's a persistent theme of possession -- gods possessing humans to achieve their own ends, or humans "hosting" gods to achieve their own ends.

But the action -- fast and well done -- is the same, as is the light, humorous storytelling and the need for the characters to find out about/explain the Egyptian myths. Likewise, there's a long-imprisoned monster who is longing to break free into the mortal world again, thus bringing about the destruction of life as we know it.

There are enough differences to make the book mostly feel like a separate adventure; the narrative bounces back and forth between Carter and Sadie, which allows the reader to see more sides to the story; but there are many places that felt similar to the Percy Jackson books. There are many more OMGs in this book, but no other swearing, and the violence is again mitigated by the monsters turning to dust when they're killed. I was uncomfortable with the possession theme and with the minions, who are occasionally referred to as demons, so would probably not let a child under 10 read this one, and possibly not a child under 12 without some discussion about how contrary to our beliefs this book runs.

It was a good, fast-paced read and very enjoyable, so here's my verdict: if your child read the Percy Jackson books and loved them, this will give them a hit of what they liked. If, like me, you're uncomfortable with some of the themes, you might want to hold off on it until your child is older or give it a miss entirely.

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