Name: The Mark of Athena
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Release Date: October 2, 2012
I was first introduced to Rick Riordan's books when I was twelve. I picked up a copy of The Lightning Thief at a book fair, started reading it, and was instantly hooked. Six years and eight books about demigods later, I am still a huge fan. Both Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians quintet and the sequel series, Heroes of Olympus, have more than their fair share of humor, character development, and smart, quick writing that both reluctant and avid readers enjoy. The Mark of Athena wasn't just up to standard - it went above and beyond, crafting a complex story with familiar characters and easily becoming my favorite book so far in the Heroes of Olympus series.
One of the things I loved the most about this book was how well Rick Riordan balanced multiple plot threads. The novel is split up into four different characters' points of view, which in most authors' hands would be a complete mess. Riordan, however, handles it remarkably well, juggling Piper, Leo, Percy, and Annabeth's individual thoughts with the story's overall plot. In a novel with seven main characters, that's not an easy thing to do.
The story picks up where the last one left off and moves quickly, taking our pack of demigods - some of whom are more experienced than others - on a madcap quest through the United States and, eventually, across the Atlantic Ocean. The stakes, as always, are high: if they don't succeed, Romans and Greeks will never be able to settle their differences, allowing the evil Gaia to take over the world without a fight. The only clues they have come from something in Annabeth's possession: the Mark of Athena.
As a reader who watched Annabeth grow and change over the course of a series and a half, it was awesome to finally get inside her head. I've always loved Annabeth's character, but I feel like I just got to know her all over again. Although the other main characters are still important, this is really her story - something that will be a huge treat for fans that have been reading Riordan's books for years. Seeing the enormous sacrifices she's willing to make for her friends and the future only solidifies her as a strong, amazing character.
I don't want to spoil any of the plot, but let's just say the book ends on a typical Rick Riordan cliffhanger that will leave readers waiting eagerly for The House of Hades, the next installment in the series. Too bad it won't be released until next fall...