Another year, another growing pile of Rick Riordan books I need to read.
The Hidden Oracle, the first of Riordan’s new spinoff series, The Hidden Oracle, involves Apollo, the god of music, healing, and archery, and his fall from grace (or rather, Olympus).
He is cast down from Olympus and is stuck in mortal form as a teenage boy in New York. For how long? We don’t know. But now he must regain Zeus’ favor to go back to Olympus.
Along the way, he meets mini-sized street-demigod Meg and starts to uncover a plot far larger than a few evil misdeeds. The only way he can fix things is at Camp Half-Blood, but his enemies are large and Apollo can’t do everything alone (as much as he’d like to do so).
Here’s the official summary:
How do you punish an immortal?
By making him human.
After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.
But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go… an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.
At the beginning this novel was full of eye-rolls for me, but it somehow slowly grew on me like every other Riordan book.
There are haikus at the beginning of the chapter that are incredibly silly as they make fun of Apollo’s horrible poetry skills (despite being the god of poetry). A lot of the jokes seemed very MG to me, which I should have expected because the last time I read a Riordan book was in 2014 when the last Heroes of Olympus novel came out.
Since 2014, my tastes have changed a lot and I read a lot of more serious books, but I still found The Hidden Oracle to be an enjoyable read after I got past the less mature sense of humor.
Likewise, Apollo’s narration can be kind of cringe-y as he makes absurd comments, comparisons, and references. Some of the references will fly over readers’ head, especially the younger ones, because they refer to things like Brittany Spears at a musical award that happened too early for them to understand.
Although in the beginning I cringed a lot at the narration, it grew on me and I appreciated the voice Riordan made for Apollo, even if it was a ridiculous one.
The characters range from very dynamic to very static.
The most dynamic, as expected, is Apollo himself as he changes from a hoity-toity god mindset to a more grounded, “mortal” mindset which is shown through his change in actions towards others as well as decisions. I liked seeing his character develop, and found it one of this novel’s strongest points, even if he was pretty unlikeable (though very ironic) near the beginning.
His little 12 year old sidekick, Meg is less dynamic, but we do see changes in her character which I can’t spoil. She’s definitely a character trope Riordan hasn’t followed along with before (only stated i.e. Annabeth an –young street girl with a quirky sense of fashion and brash personality.
They made an interesting duo, and the character interactions all had that natural flow Riordan is an expert at.
The plot, unfortunately, was somewhat of a downside for me because it was very classic-Riordan. I could predict the plot twists after reading so many of his books and learning his M.O.
Although somewhat recycled, the plot is still interesting and is paced well enough that you’re not bored. There was adequate foreshadowing, and it seemed very textbook.
All in all, I found the Trials of Apollo as another Riordan book with the same world and nearly same ideas. It was entertaining per usual, just nothing different. I hope that in future books, Riordan changes things up and makes it less predictable, but whether this is caused by the three year reading gap between me and his books, or just because his writing has degraded, I’m not sure.
I will continue to wonder what Riordan’s writing would be like if he wrote something that wasn’t part of this increasingly complex world of multiple mythologies (Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian). Alas, we’ll have to continue reading his myth-based novels and consume the same plots until something big happens. Luckily, the novelty (somehow) still hasn’t worn off for me, and although Riordan’s got (basically) a monopoly on mythology, and I’ll still continue to read his writing because I enjoy doing so.
Nevertheless, it was a fun, quick read that I would recommend to anyone looking for some silly humor.
Have you read The Trials of Apollo or its sequel? What did you think?