This is book two of the Percy Jackson series. I read The Lightning Thief in February, and am just now getting to the first sequel of the series (with my son’s encouragement). In this book, which starts the summer after the last one ended, Percy is all set to go back to Camp Half-Blood for the summer, only to find out that camp is no longer safe. Someone has poisoned the boundaries, and monsters are now able to get into that safe haven. Percy gets roped into going after a solution to the problem (the Golden Fleece) even though this year it’s not technically his quest.
Maybe it’s because I had a bad cold while I was reading it, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first one. It didn’t feel as cleverly put together as the last. I didn’t catch as much of the humor, either because it wasn’t there or because the mythology was more obscure (hence, out of my knowledge base) and I therefore didn’t see the jokes. Either way, there was a lot less laughing through this one. Also, the plot was more predictable, and the whole setup has become very Harry Potter in feel. I mean, the first one sounded a lot like HP, too, but like it was trying to branch into its own area. This one felt a lot more copied, especially in the new overarching plot for the series – Percy vs. big-time bad guy Kronos and his minions. It has VOLDEMORT written all over it. Couple that with Percy’s half-brother, a cyclops, who could almost have passed for Hagrid, and I got a little annoyed.
The Sea of Monsters suffered a lot of first-sequel problems, not the least of which was having to explain the backstory of the first book within the first couple chapters of this one. I don’t like backstory explanation. I feel like for the most part, if you’re writing a sequel, make it standalone-enough that if a reader wants backstory, they can go to the first book! But, I understand why authors do it. It just annoys me. It also spent a long time setting up this overarching series problem, the Percy vs. Kronos, and had to be careful to make it mesh with the first book. With a first book, you don’t always know if you’ll be able to have a second book, so The Lightning Thief was very self-contained. It didn’t need a sequel. But now that there are sequels, the overarching plot must apply to all the books, including the first, so there was a certain amount of weaving things back and forth which got a little irritating. I am glad, however, that a series-level plot has been established. That always makes a series better.
It wasn’t all bad or anything. I liked a lot of it. It was fun and easy to read. It just didn’t live up to the first book for me.