Rick Riordan: The Trials of Apollo – Review

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The Hidden Oracle, The Trials of Apollo, Rick Riordan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Zeus needed someone to blame, so of course he’d picked the handsomest, most talented, most popular god in the pantheon: me.”

– Apollo 

This might be my favourite Riordan book.

I was actually disappointed with his last one – The Sword of Summer – and I began to question in my review if it was finally time for Mr. R. to take a step back from these books about Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods. The conflicts were similar and the teen “voices” had begun to blend into one.

Magnus Chase could just as easily have been Percy Jackson.

But then RR had to throw Apollo into the mix who stands out because he is not a teenage boy. Well… technically, he is in this book. But he’s actually an age-old immortal who has been cast out of Olympus by Zeus and turned into a regular human teenager. His voice, however, not to mention his snark and humour, are that of a selfish, narcissistic, hilarious asshole.

Truly, this book is so refreshing! Apollo doesn’t even pretend he’s a do-gooder; in fact, it’s clear from the beginning that he’s out for himself and views humans as “meat sacks”. Imagine his horror when he discovers that not only is he human, but he also has acne and flab.

“Is anything sadder than the sound of a god hitting a pile of garbage bags?”

– Apollo

Of course, there’s a whole lot of godly drama going on too. You don’t get to be an old god like Apollo without making a LOT of enemies. But this mostly stood out to me as being the funniest book Riordan has written and that’s really saying something, given that all his books are defined by his trademark snarky humour. Pure entertainment.

Apollo is the Gilderoy Lockhart of this world and it is hilarious. There’s a nice bit of schadenfreude to be had when this self-obsessed god finally gets what he deserves and has to rely on Percy Jackson for help. And yet, there is something undeniably lovable about him too.

On that note, many familiar characters come in and out of this book. You don’t have to have read the other books to understand and enjoy this one, but it does contain spoilers for the main series and the characters.

This, for me, stood out amid a sea of similar stories and characters. I’m still not 100% sure I would want to read any more books that focus on teenage demigods (we’ve kind of been there and done that, in my opinion), but I will definitely see Apollo’s story through to the end.

“It warmed my heart that my children had the right priorities: their skills, their images, their views on YouTube.”

– Apollo

Fifty Shades of Grey: Inexplicably Popular

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So recently, I decided to give Fifty Shades of Grey a go, since my friend dared me that I wouldn’t be able to get through it. She was wrong by challenging me, because I DID get through it, even it damn near killed me doing so.

In retrospect:

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I know: there are tons and tons of bad reviews for the book out there so I decided not to really review the book but to try and deconstruct it a little bit.

The thing is, I actively encourage people to read this book. Why? Because people (especially writers) need to realize how easy it is to fall into a rut. I have no doubt that E L James thought she was being absolutely brilliant by writing a book about BDSM in Fifty Shades of Grey, and to some extent she was. She just had to screw it up by adding annoying one dimensional characters, a completely unrealistic plot and an even worse ending. Oh and then adding two more books to it.

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Most people discount this book because it came out of fanfiction. Trust me, though it may seem otherwise, fanfiction does more good than harm, and Fifty Shades of Grey (even though I would prefer to call it a dirty rag) wouldn’t even be considered as good fanfiction. It would be called “fluff” which people read to make themselves feel happier about life.

Any story has two, very basic, properties which attracts an audience. First is the technique of writing. The second, is the idea. In this regard, Fifty Shades… fails miserably in both. There are authors whose technique is so mind-blowing that they can make a book about the history of Shakespeare seem fun. (Bill Bryson – my hero.)

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Then, there are other authors whose technique is passable but make up for it by having good, tight, plots and believable characters- naming Rick Riordan as one. For a guy who writes kid stories, he’s held my attention from the tenth grade all the way up to college.

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So how has Fifty Shades… failed in both and yet found such a huge demand?

That is what I find inexplicable. I just don’t get it. I’m sure that there is some deep psychological explanation because there sure isn’t an obvious one.

So, if you’re an aspiring writer, go ahead and read this book to see how writing can go so wrong but just don’t waste money by buying it. I only condone wasting time. Definitely not hard-earned money.

Just know what you’re getting yourself into though.