By Rick Riordan
Blurb: “When Percy Jackson receives an urgent distress call from his friend Grover, he immediately prepares for battle. He knows he’ll need his powerful demigod allies at his side; his trusty bronze sword, Riptide; and…a ride from his mom. The demigods race to the rescue to find that Grover has made an important discovery: two powerful half-bloods, whose parentage is unknown. But that’s not all that awaits them. The Titan lord Kronos has set up a devious trap, and the young heroes have just fallen prey.”
Characterization: Overall, I think the characterization in this book is very well done. To start, Percy is once again a fantastic protagonist, and his narration continues to be the best part of the series. Anyway, this book once again has Percy going through a rather compelling character arc, and learns the value of cooperating with people he disagrees with. It works very well, and leads to some very solid payoffs in the book’s finale. The next fun thing is that Grover once again shows up, and this time he’s not just a plot point! So that’s fun. His journey to attempt to find a make contact with Pan continues to be a very interesting subplot, and I’m very curious to see where it’ll go in the future. Also, thank Christ, the shitty, repetitive jokes from the first two books about Grover’s eating habits are mostly gone, which is a very nice, positive change. Another great character in this book is Thalia! First of all, this is the first time that we’ve seen her character explored for any extended period of time, and my first impression is that she’s a really fun character, and her edgy, punk rock attitude is actually not obnoxious and unbearable. There are a few absolutely fantastic jokes made out of it, and that’s pretty much it. However, what’s even better is the character conflict she goes through in this book. Her rivalry with Zoë combined with her struggle relating to Luke and his new loyalties come together in a really interesting way at the end, and I think her decision to join The Hunt was brilliantly executed. Like, holy shit it was done well, and it was a perfect natural progression of her character, and I just absolutely loved it. Alright, so these are the characters I liked, let’s discuss some I’m pretty neutral on. Nico and Bianca are perfectly acceptable characters, and that’s about it. The callback to the Vegas arcade was pretty fun, Bianca’s death was decently impactful, but could probably have been handled better, and Nico’s anger and grief at the end really fucking hits. It’s just kind of a shame that they’re not as present in this book as this could have been, because the bits that we do get work very well. Something for The Battle of the Labyrinth to explore, perhaps? Another character who I’m fairly neutral on is Zoë. You see, I find her arc to be very cliche. The whole “girl who was wronged by a man in the past and now distrusts all men, but then meets one guy who doesn’t suck and realizes not all men suck after all” is an incredibly cliche story arc for a character to go through. However, I have to admit that it’s executed very well, and Zoë is a very charming character to read about. Also, her death hits like a fucking truck near the end, and any bad will I had at that point was evaporated. Alright, my last neutral character here is Annabeth, because she’s just….not a character this time around. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some very nice romantic development between her and Percy at the beginning of the book and at the end, but she disappears after chapter two and becomes a plot point for the majority of the book. I assume this was done to give Thalia more of a spotlight, which….hell fucking yeah, I understand why that was done, Thalia’s great, but also, Annabeth’s my favorite character and it hurts to see her shafted like this. It also feels dangerously reminiscent to a cliche damsel in distress plot line, but it doesn’t quite reach that point for me because Annabeth’s still a fucking badass for the few scenes where she does show up. However, where this book’s characterization once again loses me is whenever Luke shows up because Jesus Christ, I’m starting to think Riordan couldn’t write a competent villain to save his fucking life. Luke is still so boring, such a stereotypical, mustache-twirling villain that it honestly makes this book’s entire cast of villains borderline unbearable to read about. Atlas had the potential to be so motherfucking cool, but his potential is just squandered because he is forced to play off Luke, who continues to be the worst character in this series by a motherfucking landslide. He’s honestly worse than Voldemort at this point, because at least Voldemort is fucking intimidating now and then. However, I should mention that I do like the way Annabeth and Thalia react to confronting him, because that was a pretty heart-wrenching scene. Lastly, I should mention that many Gods cameo in this book, and I think they’re all quite good. My favorite was probably Artemis, because she’s extremely cool, and also gets a tad more development than most of the gods do in this series, but I also thought Apollo was very well done. He was funny, he had some interesting motivations, and he was an all around joy to read about. Athena’s scene was really well done, and I enjoyed Ares’ return quite a bit. Um….Aphrodite was really weird, and I haven’t decided if I like her appearance yet. On the one hand, it’s undeniably funny, but on the other hand, it never goes anywhere either. He just decides to not listen to her advice, which….was definitely the right call, but also makes her appearance in this book pointless, which kinda sucks. Also I have to mention that Blackjack is funny and Bessie is charming. Anyway, the good stuff definitely outshines the dumb, bad shit, so I’m going to give the characterization a 7.5/10.
Dialogue: The dialogue is once again absolutely brilliant. Riordan clearly has a talent for writing fun, quippy, occasionally emotionally resonant dialogue, because he does it really well, no matter the scenario. The dialogue has been consistently good so far, and I really hope that this continues to be the case going forward. I honestly don’t really know what else to say that I haven’t said in my previous reviews, because all of the good shit is still good, and Tyson was way less obnoxious in the one scene that he did have, so that’s nice as well. 9.5/10
Plot: As far as the plot goes, I think it’s still worse than The Lightning Thief, but it’s also leaps and motherfucking bounds better than The Sea of Monsters. The actual quest is incredibly fun, the locations that are explored in this book are incredibly fun (I especially enjoyed the junkyard of the gods), and it generally feels like there’s less filler going on. However, I can’t say that I’m too in love with the driving force behind the plot, which is Annabeth’s kidnapping. It just feels excessively average, and as I already mentioned, it is very cliche. I suppose I liked Percy’s jealousy of Luke’s connection to Annabeth, even if the execution left a bit to be desired, and I think that Riordan picked the perfect set-pieces and moments to write action scenes (more on that in a minute). Honestly, this book’s plot’s biggest sin is the fact that I have nothing to say about it, because I generally found it to be a bit forgettable in places. I should, however, mention that the council of the gods was a really cool payoff that I enjoyed quite a bit. I also have to dock points for continual over-reliance on prophecies, because it’s fucking obnoxious and one of my least favorite storytelling techniques out there. The individual quest prophecies are mostly fine, but I’m already not liking the Child of the Big Three prophecy and I don’t even know what it says yet. However, the plot is, overall, still undeniably well done and there’s a lot of stuff that I really enjoyed, so….7/10.
Action: The action in this book is still, overall, fantastic. My personal favorite sequence is the one in the National Air and Space Museum, but they’re all really well done. I like the fight against the manticore at the beginning when Artemis shows up, I love the fight against Atlas and Luke near the end, and I think the junkyard sequence is also great. This book’s action tends to have a bit more of an emotional edge to it than it did in either of the two previous ones. So yeah, overall, the action continues to be amazing. 10/10
Tone: Yay! Tonal consistency is back! That’s nice, because holy shit was it bad in The Sea of Monsters. Anyway, despite a few missteps here and there, mostly relating to how quickly it goes back to jokey joke times after Bianca’s death, this book does a masterful job juggling the jokes and the drama in the way that gives them both opportunities to shine. In fact, I’d say that this book probably has both the best jokes and the best character drama yet, and I hope it continues to be this good in future installments. 8.5/10
Pacing: The Titan’s Curse is a very well paced book. Things happen is waves, and there are some fairly consistent brief lulls between each monumental event, and once you get into this rhythm the book becomes impossible to put down, because you know something is always either happening or about to happen. This is a fantastic way to build up tension, and it makes the payoff at the end, once everything clicks together, all the more satisfying. 9/10
Comedy: The jokes that exist in this book are all great, I especially liked when Atlas grew kittens from the earth and then got really mad at the human guards for getting the wrong tooth, but I also feel like there are fewer of them. That’s not necessarily an issue, and I don’t consider it to be a bad thing here, but it is something worth pointing out. Either way, Percy’s narration is still littered with jokes and references, and is still an absolute joy to read, and the visual gags mostly work. I once again wish that Riordan relied a little bit less on “goat boy likes eating metal, funny happy times”, but it’s also undeniably less relied upon here than in the other two, so….9/10.
Overall: The Titan’s Curse is a really fun read from beginning to end. While it undeniably has flaws, it also has an undeniably satisfying narrative, and I think that the character payoffs are far better than in either The Lightning Thief or The Sea of Monsters, even if I think it’s debatable if the overall product is better or not. But…yeah the highs are very high, and while there are some rather low lows, especially where the villains are concerned, they aren’t nearly as bad as they are in The Sea of Monsters. Overall, great book, I liked it a lot, I’d recommend reading it if you haven’t already (although if you haven’t then I’m sorry cause these reviews have spoilers in them).
Final Thoughts: At this point, I think I’ve said everything that needs to be said, so I’ll just go ahead and give this book an 8.6/10.
Written on 04/23/2021