The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles #1) by Rick Riordan

Rating: 4/5

This was a very intriguing read. I want to preface my review by saying that I can be pretty hesitant about reading books with such young characters (Carter, 14 and Sadie, 12) simply because they are so limited in what they can do … In this world, anyway. I mean, what adult in their right mind isn’t going to notice two children* wandering around on their own? And yes, I realize that I read fantasy and there are generally some pretty simple excuses: magic/glamor, a slightly different world where it’s not a big deal, etc. So often with character this young I find the cop-outs unsatisfying, and maybe I’m just not reading the right young young adult fiction. Rick Riordan not only managed to make this a believeable non-issue, but it didn’t even occur to me that it could have been until it was made a little more obvious toward the very end of the book.

Now that that’s out of the way …

One of my favorite things in a book is a strong basis in mythology. Unfortunately, I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to fall in love with books based in mythology because I understand too much of the original** myths and get frustrated when I don’t feel there are enough nods to the original story. In all fairness, much of the literature we have available today surrounding many of the less-understood mythologies is too vague, too random, or too inconsistent to make for an easy task for writers. In that way, I think Riordan truly showed his skill as an author. He managed to not only acknowledge many of the inconsistencies in the Egyptian mythos, but he integrated them and, in a way, explained them. He made them fit into the world he has created in a truly impressive manner, and I applaud him for taking on the task instead of ignoring it. I felt the same way after reading The Lightning Thief series (which holds a near and dear place in my heart simply because they were always family gifts, and they were one of the few books my brother and I both loved).

Riordan is also a master at certain aspects of imagery. I always have a fairly clear picture in my head of what’s going on – he doesn’t overwhelm with detail, but I nine times out of ten (or more), I could probably set the book aside, close my eyes, and describe aloud where I was, who was standing where, and what was happening. As this is a skill I am confident that I lack, I have a strong respect for Riordan’s ability in this regard, and I strive to be as fluent and concise as him in my description one day. Step one, I suppose, is probably getting a more clear vision in my own mind first, huh? And maybe some more practice!

Overall, this was a great book. The plot was complicated enough to keep me interested, though it was a bit too predictable for my tastes. Then again, I am a much more experienced reader (and writer … and, oh, Doctor Who fan) than Riordan’s target audience, so that’s probably ok.

So why only a 4? I haven’t had a bad thing to say yet, which is usually why my ratings get downgraded from a 5 to a 4. Honestly, the main reason was that I just didn’t find most of the characters all that engaging. Don’t get me wrong, they had personality and wit, and charm in their own ways. However, I didn’t always feel the emotions they expressed, not even during some of the particularly moving scenes. That’s not to say that I sat here going “So what?” But  I just didn’t feel that extra push to get lost in the world, and that’s what’s really needed for me to feel like I just finished a masterpiece.

—–

*I realize that calling a 14-year-old a child may get harrumphs from younger readers (who honestly shouldn’t be reading this blog anyway :P), but my brother was just 14 2 years ago, and that is very much still in the category of child. Most importantly, you can’t drive yet – that makes moving around in a large, spread-out country very difficult without breaking the law, something that shouldn’t be encouraged by writing such behavior.

**Yes, calling the myths ‘original’ is little more than a myth in and of itself. Many of the stories understood today have been translated and interpreted to the point of being nearly unrecognizable from what their original form probably actually was. Some mythologies, such as Greek, have been studied thoroughly enough by archaeologists that we (not always the general population) have a fairly decent understanding of the literature we have found (in no small thanks to artifacts such as transcriptions of The Illiad and The Odessey). Still, I so often read books that allude to certain stories but don’t follow-through, and I believe that in today’s “Information Age,” there is little excuse for not taking the extra step.

 

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Posted on June 14, 2013, in Urban Fantasy/Paranormal, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hey! It’s hard to mix myth and originality…partially because you have to come up short on one of them. 😛

    • I didn’t say it that it should precisely follow the myth, simply that it should have more/better nods to it. I’ve read far too many books that supposedly have the myths as the backbone of the story, but they tend to skirt around it as much as possible (ie—intentionally avoid it). That’s when it bothers me a bit. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good examples of this to send your way off the top of my head…

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