|The Last Olympian
by Rick Riordan
|The Lost Conspiracy
by Frances Hardinge
Judged by Angela Johnson
Okay, I have to admit I didn’t have a stellar beginning with all of this. Sometimes I actually wonder how I get myself into these predicaments. I don’t of course mean the fun predicament of reading books and picking my favorite. I mean my ongoing predicament in not reading enough divergent literature genres. I do have problems getting comfortable with dystopic literature. Yes, I’m one of those. I usually only read contemporary fiction.
Well I try—I swear, to read the urban fantasies my niece leaves on the couch. I try to get into the sci-fi and adventure books kids tell me I should be reading. I used to read more non-fiction . . . I’m stubborn (yeah right) and find it difficult to get out of my book rut. So at the start I held my breath and imagined I wouldn’t have to put my toes in too deep off my usual reading pool. I’m not proud of it, mind you. I’m not adventurous by nature, or did you already guess that?
But I must say The Last Olympian was an easy thrill ride. There was not one time that I was confused by plot or anything that came before in the previous books (which I’d never read). I giggled and laughed out loud while rudely reading it instead of talking to my house guests. I loved Percy and his hero as teen– knowing winged creatures indeed will appear out of nowhere and you just have to deal with it because it is your destiny. Or is it? I cheered because those mythological Gods weren’t really myths in Percy’s reality. I was ecstatic that I remembered so much from my Greek Mythology class and was almost breathless from the action; though I needed a bit of a break from it sometimes. Rick Riordan has done an amazing job of balancing contemporary teen as a heroic adventurer demi-god who you could actually believe in—and have fun doing it.
I will definitely read the first four books.
Conversely, when I began reading The Lost Conspiracy I realized I was in trouble. I was lost—seriously lost. I had to work at this book. There were so many layers of myth and history pertaining to the Lace. For some reason—I couldn’t keep the names straight. I’d forget the relationships and my mind would wander—just like a Lost. Not unusual (It took me a year to read the first Harry Potter book.) Of course I was worried, I promised to do this—there are brackets to be maintained.
Miraculously— one morning at around 3:00 a.m. after the Lace village had been destroyed and Hathin was dragging her helpless sister toward the unknown– I was there with her; bone tired,bruised, scared witless for someone I loved but heading into the unknown anyway. Hathin became the classic hero to me because she would not necessarily be the classic hero of everyone’s imagination.
She couldn’t stomach violence, even though her people were revengers. She sublimated most of her life to her sister Arilou to the point that she was almost invisible to some; but when the time came to leave her sister to someone else’s ministrations—she was angrily hurt. Hathin had to find her place in the world and she didn’t even realize she was doing just that.
The Lost Conspiracy tells the history of an unjust world where Indigenous people are wiped out, shadow governments loom, cultural injustices, the lunacy of only revering the past even if it annihilates the present and future. But Frances Hardinge also peppers her narrative with humor. (Tomki repeatedly singing obnoxious songs outside of bars hoping someone will come out and hit him so he can revenge them and hang out with the woman he loves.) And I must say the anamorphic like volcanos are quite amazing. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book where a volcano had as much personality as a human.
The Last Olympian was fun. It was an easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed. But ultimately, I chose The Lost Conspiracy because it dragged me along, reluctantly at first, then captured me.
The Winner of Round 2 Match 2 Is…
The Battle of the Fantasy Books moves into the second round! I should probably chide Angela for choosing the challenging book over the popular one, but . . . um, I actually agree. THE LAST OLYMPIAN was the most popular book of the year at my school, more popular even than CATCHING FIRE and WHEN YOU REACH ME. THE LOST CONSPIRACY, on the other hand, was my own personal favorite. Both Helen and Angela found themselves lost in the beginning of THE LOST CONSPIRACY, but I had a completely different experience. I took to this book like a fish to water and was hooked from the very first sentence, both by the cleverness of the fantasy concepts and the awesomeness of the sentence level writing—It was a burnished, cloudless day with a tug-of-war wind, a fine day for flying. And so Raglan Skein left his body neatly laid out on his bed, its breath as slow as sea swell, and took to the sky.
– Commentator Jonathan Hunt