Monday, January 25, 2016

The red pyramid by Rick Riordan

For the past few years Carter and Sadie Kane have lived very different lives.  Sadie has lived in London with her maternal grandparents, while Carter has traveled the world with their father.  They see each other on only two days a year, a tense time for everyone at the best of times, but this year things are really going to blow up on them.  Visiting the British Museum after hours would be a real treat for most people but for Carter and Sadie it is the start of a fly by the seat of your pants adventure where everyone seems to be out to get them, they don't know what the rules are.  Normally when your a teenager if something goes wrong it's not the end of the world, but in Carter and Sadie's case if things go wrong it really WILL be the end of the world!

Sadie and Carter are at a distinct disadvantage in this race against time because not only do they know piratically nothing about the world of Egyptian magic, they also know practically nothing about each other.  You can change a lot in a few years, and when you only get to see each other two days a year it is a challenge to really get to know your sibling.  From Sadie's point of view Carter is the lucky one because he got to travel the world with their dad, and while he might be serious and dress like a miniature professor at least he got quality dad time.  From Carter's point of view Sadie is the lucky one because she has a normal home with their grandparents including friends and a cat, even though she can be really stubborn and in your face.  As they race against time they have a lot to learn about each other - and themselves.

The red pyramid is the first book in a trilogy based on Egyptian mythology - a change from the world of Greek god and demigods that made the Percy Jackson series so unique and fresh.  With the Kane chronicles Riordan has made more than a change of mythology, he has also changed the way the story is told and it takes getting used to - the story is "transcribed" from a recording, which means you get the story but also some little sibling rivalry asides which can be amusing or distracting depending on your point of view.  It took me a little while to get used to, and I am not 100% convinced I like the style, but it does add a unique voice to the series which makes it stand out a little more compared to the Percy Jackson series which is good because other Riordan could be accused of being a one trick pony!

Taking something that is well known and working it into a work of fiction is always risky and challenging, yet Riordan makes it seem easy.  His characters are well developed and are complete - they have strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams, flaws and faults, and histories.  In the case of The red pyramid they also have more than 500 pages of adventure, mystery, fantasy, and danger to get through.  The library where I work has this series in the children's fiction area, and while it is easily accessible to 'tweens (ages 10+) this series seems best suited to children 12+ because of the commitment it takes to read through the whole book, and because there are themes that younger readers may struggle with a little (but this was also true of the Percy Jackson series).  

One of the "funnest" parts of the book is (as always) the chapter headings, Riordan has a somewhat twisted sense of humour and that shines through in some of the incidents and the chapter names.  There is a lot to love here and very little to dislike.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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