Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Review: The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid
The Kane Chronicles, Book 1
by Rick Riordan

Carter Kane and his sister Sadie live very different lives. Since their mother died six years earlier, Carter has traveled the world with their Egyptologist father, while Sadie lives in London with their mother's parents, who got custody in a bitter fight. Carter and Sadie's maternal grandparents blame their father for their mother's death. Sadie's father is only allowed to visit twice a year, and it's on one of these visits that things blow up — literally. A trip to the British Museum leads to an explosion, destruction of the Rosetta Stone, the disappearance of Carter and Sadie's father, and a lot of trouble for Carter and Sadie, who soon discover that not all is as it seems and that the Egyptian gods are real. Readers of the Percy Jackson books will not be surprised to learn that Carter and Sadie's destinies are intimately tied in with that of the gods, although in a very different way than in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

The Red Pyramid is a solid middle-grade novel, very much in the mode of Percy Jackson, but different enough to be unique. There's plenty of action and excitement, mixed in with interesting information about the Egyptian pantheon, to hold the interest of most middle-grade readers. Carter and Sadie take turns narrating the story; unfortunately this creates some imbalance because Sadie is a stronger and more interesting character than Carter.

One disappointment was that the book isn't as funny as the Percy Jackson books, although it tries to be. There are some amusing scenes, but it's not overflowing with humor like the earlier series. I think that one reason is that it lacks the unique voice of Percy. While Carter and Sadie are strong enough characters to carry the series, they don't have Percy's sardonic voice.

I found the information about Egyptian mythology fascinating. I know a lot less about Egyptian mythology than the Greek & Roman mythology used in the Percy Jackson books, and I learned a lot. Riordan has obviously done a lot of research. Egyptian mythology is apparently very different than the more familiar Greek & Roman; it's not just a matter of different gods, but a different worldview.

Fans of the Percy Jackson series should enjoy this book, although they may find the humor strained. Other middle-grade readers may actually enjoy the series more, going into it without expectations. Overall, though, it's a good start to a series and one that many young readers will enjoy.

FTC required disclosure: Review copy obtained at Book Expo America for the purpose of writing a review. The Amazon.com links above are Amazon Associate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.


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