Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Mythology
How do you punish an immortal?
By making him human.
After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.
But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go... an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.
My sister is a big fan of Rick Riordan, so every now and again I get the urge to read a few more and understand a little more of her obsession. I read the original Percy Jackson books years ago, then started the Heroes of Olympus back in 2016, finishing those and then the Kane Chronicles in 2018. I then hit a bit of a standstill – do I read Magnus Chase yet? Trials of Apollo? Does anyone really know?! Finally I bit the bullet and decided to start with The Hidden Oracle, mostly because it was available through the library.
The Hidden Oracle is the first Trials of Apollo book, and funnily enough it follows Apollo himself, who has recently been turned into a mortal following the events of Blood of Olympus. Stuck as an unattractive, unskilled mortal isn’t a huge amount of fun for Apollo, who’s used to be being adored and firmly believing he deserves nothing less. Now, he’s desperately trying to regain Zeus’ favour and stuck helping Meg McCaffrey; a demigod who’s not in the slightest in awe of him, through all the usual chaos and disasters we expect from a Riordan book.
Apollo is, to start with at least, intensely arrogant, whiny and unlikable. Honestly, I had to re-write that sentence more than once to make it family friendly, I found him pretty much unbearable at first. His ego is like a small planet (anyone else’s brain just go off on a minor Guardians of the Galaxy 2 detour?), and he seems to have nothing to justify that – sure he’s lost his godly powers now and they would have been something to admire, but his personality hasn’t changed and that is distinctly unpleasant. Having said that, he does grow throughout the book, becoming both less self-obsessed and more funny. His growth is a bit predictable and borderline-saccharine at times, but then, this is a children’s book after all, and I’m sure if I’d read it when I was younger I wouldn’t notice so much. The supporting characters, as I’ve noted more than once with Riordan’s books, are almost of more interest to me. While Meg is interesting, I don’t feel any particular attachment to her yet, but I was thrilled to see some characters from earlier books reappear – Nico DiAngelo, Will Solace, someone-else-I-can’t-mention-because-they-don’t-appear-until-the-end, Chiron, Harley….
The Hidden Oracle feels slightly younger than the Heroes of Olympus books did, which is a little disappointing because the slightly older feel was one of my favourite things about the Heroes of Olympus series. It’s still a very enjoyable, quick read though, and I’ve already reserved the second book, The Burning Prophecy, at the library. I look forward to getting to know more about the new characters and getting more attached in the next book, as has so far happened with every Riordan series I’ve read!
Buy it? This is one I’d be happy enough to buy and add to my shelves permanently.
In a nutshell: Light, fun read with new characters I’m not yet attached to but sure I will be, and featuring returning characters I love!