I believe I've made it loud and clear that I certainly love all of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson novels. They bring out the inner child in me - which isn't too hard to do, considering my love of all things bright and wondrous. Yet, my energy and passion considering this series does not mean that any of these novels get a free ride when it comes to a critique. Fortunately, Riordan improves as he continues to write the books in this series, working out how to better balance the humour and gravitas of the novels.
House of Hades kicks off immediately where The Mark of Athena ended, more or less. One has to read through a set of Hazel chapters before finally returning to an Annabeth point of view, which is where the last novel really left off. It focused on Percy and Annabeth as they relied upon each other, crossing Tartarus towards the Gates of Death and the crew of the Argo II as they head toward the Gates of Death on the mortal side. As per usual there are plenty of dramatic twists and cliff hangers at the ends of chapters, which keep readers racing onto the next section to see what is happening.
Rick Riordan's strength as a writer is his tone. In this novel he perhaps has the most balanced tone in this series to date. The move to different points of view was well accomplished and provided the reader with differing perspectives in regards to the tricky emotional relationships involved in regards to the characters. Riordan never stoops to creating a love triangle for the sake of driving the plot along - though there are certainly hints of love triangles and unrequited love throughout this novel - but instead serve as a nice balance to some of the moral dilemmas of Greek and Roman mythology that he deals with.
It seemed to me, while reading, that Rick Riordan as an author seems to have aimed to address many of his fan's biggest concerns while writing. Which leads to a novel with plenty of different points of view (I counted at least seven in total - Frank, Jason, Leo, Piper, Hazel, Annabeth and Percy), including plenty of romantic tension and resolution. However, it must be said that despite his obvious attempts to please the fans, Riordan does not stray from telling a quality story overall. Indeed, the power of story and mythology when told well cannot be overlooked or looked down upon in favour of more 'serious literature.'
There was a section that I initially wanted to heavily criticise and almost turned me off. It felt like a fanfiction moment initially - a moment out of context of the rest of the series. It was a section involving Eros, and my comments will no doubt make more sense to those who go on to read the novel. As I read on I realised that it made some kind of sense but initially it had been handled in a shocking, disgruntling way. So, while I cannot criticise it as heavily as I thought I would, I must agree that that particular moment stood as a disgruntling section.
This novel focused on key themes from the series of friendship, love, loyalty and the idea of choosing a destiny. Each of the characters undertakes their own particular trial in this novel, a trial which brings out the best in them and really plays on the ideals of the mythology of which Riordan bases his storytelling. These are not new themes, such character development and morals have been around for millennia, however the way in which Riordan handles these themes is a new combination for this series and it provides for a fascinating adventure. My advice for readers of this series is to get a copy as soon as possible and free up an afternoon or two to do some serious reading.