Title: The Dark Prophecy
Author: Rick Riordan
Narrator: Robbie Daymond
Publisher: Penguin Audio Books
The Word Description: Funny, Emotional, Great
Rating: 4/6 (the rating is based on Goodreads rating system but with an extra star for those exceptional books)
You know guys, I was actually a bit uncertain if I should really write a review of this book. Why? Because I love his books (I’ve read all of them in his universe of gods), so my view on this is very subjective because I cannot not love his books. Of course we’re all subjective about the books we read, but to a review, it’s also important to be objective to be able to criticize som parts of a book even if you loved the book.
But what the hell.
In the second installment of Rick Riordan’s book series The Trials Of Apollo, the former-god-Apollo-turned-into-mortal-Lester, along with Leo Valdez and Calypso, has to travel to save both a friend and an oracle from the claws of an evil emperor. But of course things has to complicate, especially when the identity of the second emperor is revealed…
I listened to the audio book, and as with all of Riordan’s books taking place in the “Percy Jackson universe”, I really recommend it. Why? Because the story is told through first perspective, so it feels like the narrator, this time Apollo, is talking (complaining for the most part) to you about what happened to him.
The Dark Prophecy started off a bit too quick for me actually – I felt like I didn’t have time to really settle myself into it. But of course, that was only relevant for like the first two, three? chapters. Then the plot kept a nice pace, complete with the typical adventure, heartwarming moments, tear jerkers and the humour characteristic of Riordan (featuring waaay too many pop-culture references and hilarious moments and characters).
Though in this book the plot felt a lot more serious and emotional than the first due to both Apollo/Lester’s character development and what ‘triggers’ it. To recover different oracles his only one part of his trials, after all. Riordan empathizes Apollo’s relationship with people, new and old, (bad and good) to demonstrate his ‘weaknesses’, what is needed to ‘grow’ in him. I like how Riordan doesn’t excuse some things Apollo has done (even though he himself does it at first, which is perfectly in character) and forces him to realize his mistakes. Calypso, a new/old supporting character, was a great character on her own – she was brave despite being ‘powerless’, clever but also kind – to those who she saw deserved it. Therefore she also made for a good ‘companion’ to Apollo, forcing him to understand how he had wronged her.
For another important relationship, which I absolutely love that Riordan did, was the one between Apollo and the Big Bad. Any kind of (previous) personal relationship between a hero and a villain has always been one of my favorite tropes, it makes their interactions and actions so much… more.
Apollo went through a dramatic character development by the near end of this book as he not only realize some of his (many) mistakes like in the previous one, but also learns about the importance, for example, of selfless kindness. Of course, this is Apollo we’re talking about – it’s not that he turns into Mother Teresa. But his character growth, thanks to a certain someone people, also shows that then growth goes both ways.
As for the other characters, Leo is still the lovable Leo (though maybe a bit more serious? But he was this after Blood of Olympus too), plus some old characters appear, but also new ones that I’m super excited for. Riordan has done a great job in working to expand his diversity, from ethnicity to sexuality, but also improve how he portrays them. When a certain character came out as the officially “first” gay character, some fans where angry because of the way it was handled. So in the next series, Riordan made the lead character bi-sexual and openly comfortable with it. No, not a supportive character. He has included a muslim main character, transgender, gay couples and people from different ethnicities (oh and in his series about Egyptian gods, almost the entire cast was black or bi-racial. Take notice Hollywood). He has also talked about parents who kick out their kids for being transgender, police brutality against black people, emotionally abusive parenting et cetera.
Suffice to say, I am both awed and so greatful for Riordan to actually reaching out to ALL kids and (young) adults, listening to his fans and adding more characters that people can relate to. He’s “milking” his fans for money that way? Oh first off, his an author; being a writer is a profession, meaning job, meaning he gets his money this way. Of course he needs to sell – all authors want that! But he is not, unlike some auhtors who create new series or books in a world with the same cast of character, the same one gay and two black characters to call themself diverse. No, he is activaly trying to improve his books and talks about so many things that are important for kids to understand and learn. I know for certain that when I get kids, I’ll be reading his books to them.
Okay maybe I got a bit off topic (the review) but oh well, just thought of having it said. So the thing is, in this book we get a relationship many people have only had in headcanon. Like I discussed with @Joce only about two days ago, Riordan is like one of his gods in his series – if you say his name, he’ll hear you. BUT, I’m honestly shocked to see that some people have an issue with the relationship by complaining that Riordan wrote of a group as “homophobic” for not including them, when it is clearly stated why they cannot be included. And it’s not just their relationship either. I can not say too much without, well, revealing too much (although to be honest it’s not a big spoiler or anything). But c’mon. I can honestly tell you there’s nothing homophobic in this book and those who say otherwise have clearly either not read previous books or don’t know anything about the mythology of said group.
Okay, moving on.
This book, like all his books, also includes some great comedic bits and characters. Listening to a part which includes a train had me actually laughing out loud (guys it was ridiculously hilarious). That’s why I’m equally surprised at how quickly it can change from funny to serious. For the most part, this was very well handled but one or two times it kind of didn’t go so well in my opinion. I also blame it on the narrator, he is not the best I’ve heard when it comes to expressing emotional moments. He wasn’t bad, just not good enough.
But in summary, this was (as always) a great experience and I do really recommend people to read or continue this series. It’s light, warming and a lot of fun, but also not to be underestimated when it comes to being emotional. Not really the “strongest” of Riordan’s book, but still great and unique.