[Warning: This is a spoiler-free review, but may contain references to some events from the Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series, with which The Trials of Apollo shares a continuity. My previous reviews from this universe: The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5); Percy Jackson & the Greek Heroes.]
Apollo has irritated his father Zeus, King of the Gods, about a hundred times too many. His punishment? To be turned into a mortal teenager, complete with acne and flab (the horror!). Meanwhile Camp Half Blood is in crisis, as the Oracle of Delphi has lost its power, and it may well be up to Apollo – as the (former) god of prophecy – and his new demigod “master” – a wild urchin called Meg – to find a way to restore it.
I didn’t like this book as much as I have previous entries from the Percy Jackson continuity (not that that’s saying much, as my love for Percy Jackson is somewhat extreme), but it did make an interesting break from Riordan’s usual formula. The choice of a god (or ex-god, I should say) as narrator and protagonist was a refreshing change from Half Bloods discovering the world of demigods for the first time. Apollo himself was conceited to an annoying degree, but underwent amazing character growth as the story went on… and my annoyance with him in the early parts of the book were more a me-thing than a he’s-a-terrible-chracter-thing, as it was mostly just because The Hidden Oracle has a slightly different sense of humour than Riordan’s previous books, and it didn’t resonate with me quite so well.
Things that I did really appreciate about the book, though: Firstly, there was no obvious love interest for Apollo. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t think Rick Riordan does romance very well, so I’m holding out hope that the relationships in this series (or Apollo’s relationships, at least) will remain platonic – and it seems likely, as the most prominent characters in the book other than Apollo himself are either a) his children, b) in a relationship already, or c) too young even for Apollo’s teen-incarnation. Secondly (and most importantly), the actual storyline was really, really fun. The Trials of Apollo definitely looks like it’s gearing up to be another great, high-stakes adventure in Percy Jackson-land, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on The Dark Prophecy (which is coming out next week!) soon.