Title: The Hidden Oracle
Series: The Trials of Apollo #1
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mythology
Published: May 3rd, 2016 (Disney-Hyperion)
Synopsis: 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.
“Zeus needed someone to blame, so of course
he’d picked the handsomest, most talented,
most popular god in the pantheon: me.”
Following the events of The Blood of Olympus, Apollo is in trouble with his father. Zeus decides he’s to blame for the war with Gaea, and as punishment, the glorious Apollo finds himself turned into a sixteen year old mortal with acne and flab named Lester, crash landing, quite literally, in a dumpster in New York, and to complete the indignity, enslaved to a twelve year old demigod named Meg. To complete his punishment and be restored to Olympus, Apollo has to regain control of the five oracles which will include facing his oldest and most deadliest enemy who can taken over the shrine of Delphi – Python.
I’ll be honest, I did not expect to like this series at all. One of my pet peeves is when a world is stretched out in series after series (to date, the only books I’ve actually enjoyed that in are Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters novels), so much that I didn’t read The Lost Hero for a year and a half after it was first released. I nearly did the same with this one – until I heard it was about Apollo.
I was also very glad that Percy and friends seem to be on the sidelines for the most part (atleast so far), because it gives us a chance to get to know the amazing new characters who are introduced, from Meg McCaffrey the daughter of Demeter, and several other demigods at Camp who have been only mentioned in passing in previous books. Also, it was really nice that Percy and Annabeth are finally getting a break from the hero stuff – though who knows how long it’ll be before they’re dragged back into things?
Apollo’s narration might just be the best thing about this book. I listened to the audiobook for my reread and had to work so hard to not burst out laughing. Yes, he is narcissistic and selfish, but also undoubtedly hilarious as he stumbles through the pitfalls of being mortal. Through most of this book, Apollo is unapologetically himself, conceited and arrogant, but as The Hidden Oracle shows, even immortals are flawed, and somehow, that makes him all the more likeable. Despite his self-obsession, it was sweet to see that he does genuinely care for his demigod children at Camp, and that there’s a heart beneath all that swagger.
Getting to hear the tale from the perspective of a God, and not a demigod as has been the norm for the past books, was definitely a change, but Apollo’s portrayal is very well done and I really liked his voice. And the dreadful, yet hilarious haikus in signature Apollo style at the beginning of every chapter – I went back after I finished the book just to look at those again! It’s nice that we’re moving away from the most well known myths to a era of ancient history I’ve always loved researching, the Roman Empire. I also like how each PJO book is more serious in some ways than the last, and this is something I really appreciate about these novels. I started reading these books as a twelve year old, and they’ve changed enough over time that twelve years later, I’m still eager to read more and thoroughly enjoy them. I suppose the only real downside to this new series would be that it is effectively a continuation of the previous two and can’t really be read alone, but apart from that, I can’t find much to criticize at all, even having read the next three books in the series.
What makes The Hidden Oracle different from previous books is that it takes place entirely in and around Camp Half-Blood. Yes, there is a quest of sorts, and things seem to be falling into place for the usual recipe of prophecy-quest-epic journey in the sequels, but this book was a good change of pace for this new series. It was great to return to the world of Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods once more, just as I thought this storyline was at an end, but we’re getting five more books! If you enjoyed the first two series, The Trials of Apollo is a must read. The Hidden Oracle is a highly entertaining and humorous read with plenty of action and more mythology. Highly recommended!