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The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan I know what you’re thinking: “Great, Percy Jackson with Egyptian gods.” Since I’ve never read the Percy Jackson series, I can’t vouch for that, but from what I’ve gathered, the writing style is quite similar, and some of the resolutions in the end made me think that there will probably be a crossover between both series some time soon.
The book is split into both siblings’ voices: two chapters for Sadie and two for Carter. They are recording their adventures, and this would be great if it weren’t for the fact that they keep interrupting each other mid-narration to poke fun at one another (in a very humourless way, I might add). At first both characters have very distinct voices, Sadie speaking in British slang. That gets dropped about halfway through, and the author only remembers it again near the ending. Consistency! Also, they keep going back and forth with things they’ve already realized about themselves and each other, like actually caring for one another, and keep getting all surprised when they remember it again.
The Sadie chapters were very hard for me to get through because Sadie is a very annoying girl. She is arrogant, hopeless and obnoxious. She contradicts herself so many times, and I just didn’t like her. Carter was kind of awesome though.
On to the writing itself: I know this is a kids’ book (targeted for boys) and it’s important to have a clear and simple writing. But what Riordan does is patronize readers. It’s like having your hand held during the entire novel. In each chapter some of the events of the previous one are re-told. Again and again ideas and plot points are repeated. It’s like having a neon arrow pointing at major parts of the novel. I don’t think children (and teens who read this) are so thick that won’t remember HUGE events just because a chapter ended. Admittedly, I haven’t read much YA books, but J.K. Rowling is more subtle doing this. And so is Phillip Pullman.
The descriptions are frankly bad. There is too much detail, which I can tell Riordan tried simplifying, and it just falls short. Also, whenever we got to Sadie’s chapters, entire paragraphs were spent describing clothes. Clothes. And there are actually some important bits about wardrobe (magicians don’t wear animal skins so it doesn’t interfere with their magic) but we don’t need to know about caramel-coloured and light and wonderful her crush’s pants are.
And now, for the good bits! Riordan does succeed at doing what he wants to do: take ancient mythology and making it fun for kids. He clearly knows his ancient Egypt and doesn’t make it confusing. He provides all the hieroglyphs and re-tells all important events in the mythology. But then he just decides to make baboons wear basketball jerseys and kill a god with salsa. So, there’s that.
I knew this was going to be a light read, and it is. It’s fun and outlandish, and I know it seems I have a lot of problems with it, but I’m just a nitpick. It’s entertaining, I read it in 3 days or so, so it’s perfect for a rainy day or when you need to recover from a violent novel. Perfect brain fluff.