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Monsters in the Maze

Paro Anand

By Rick Riordan
Puffin Books, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 342, Rs. 350.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 11 November 2008

Half boy, Half God. What an interesting concept. When I first heard of the series, I was dying to read it and was happy when I was asked to do the review for this issue. However, it is juvenile, obvious, over-simplified and completely a-literary. But hey, it seems to work. So who am I to pooh-pooh it?   I was actually very excited about getting this particular book. I teach at Vasant Valley School and was working on a project with classes 6 through 8, getting them to select their personal favourite reads. We’re going to have our own version of the Man Booker. An astounding number of students selected the Percy Jackson series or (mostly girls), the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers.   In terms of writing style, literary quality, plot and character development, Twilight scores over Percy Jackson. But, when the kids first told me of both of these, I’d found the idea of a half god, half boy teen hero charming and approached the first of the series—The Lightning Thief— in a very positive frame of mind. After all, it had a lot of kids reading, including some boys who proudly professed that they had never read a book unless they were forced to. Even they had been hooked by the author, so I was looking forward to delving into the novel.   The author starts both Lightning Thief and Battle for the Labyrinth very well, to quote the first line of the latter, ‘The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was to blow up another school…’   But oh, does he lose the plot, if he ever had one, within the next few pages. Perhaps he takes that old adage, ‘Well begun is half done’ too literally. Because it soon lapses into tedious meanderings through a confused labyrinth that’s supposedly ever-changing, making it impossible to find. Yet, a couple of half blood teens and a conveniently all-seeing mortal chick enter and exit it with singular ease.   Then there are the creatures they meet along the way. Clearly Riordan is quite inspired by Tolkien and Rowling, but just doesn’t have the knack, cleverness or imagination to create exciting monsters and creatures. Almost all of them are half animal, half human. Take Kelli the dracaena, for instance,She would’ve had a beautiful face, except her tongue was forked and her eyes were yellow with ...

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