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The Last Olympian

by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5
381 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Kristi

An exciting wrap-up to the series, with some content to be aware of.

Plot

As Percy Jackson's sixteenth birthday approaches, he finally learns in entirety the prophecy that has been hanging over him since he was born...and his odds for survival don't look good. With the Titan lord Kronos and his army advancing on New York City and Mount Olympus, what chance do Percy and his small band of friends have?

Morality

There are several pointed references to ethical behavior in this book, which were very refreshing when so many series nowadays seem willing to throw right and wrong out the window in order to make things easier for their young heroes. Percy seems to have been raised well, though. Late in the story, when the city of New York lies asleep except for Percy and his friends, a couple of the characters (who just happen to be sons of Hermes, the god of thieves) want to loot a candy store, one of the other half-bloods tells them off for it. Another demigod emulates this behavior later when some of his friends go off in search of desperately needed medical supplies and he insists they leave money for what they take. Percy does borrow a motorized scooter from a sleeping New Yorker, hoping he'll be able to return it, but rationalizing that if he can't, it won't matter, because that'll mean the battle was lost and the city destroyed. Percy advises his friends to borrow cell phones of sleeping New Yorkers to keep in touch, but maintains that they can't keep it if they find a really nice one.

There are some touching moments of self-sacrifice in this book, including characters giving their lives for others, or taking an injury to protect someone else.

Toward the end of the story, a character keeps a promise she made despite the fact that she now has strange new responsibilities. I was quite sure she would see this as an excuse to toss her word aside, but she keeps her promise.

Spiritual Content

When Grover laments the death of a number of nature spirits in the battle, Percy reassures him that they will be reincarnated into a better world. A dead satyr is reborn as a laurel plant.

A character is possessed by the spirit of the Oracle of Delphi, which at one point speaks through her to reveal a prophecy.

Violence

Even in the midst of an epic battle between-- well, not quite good and evil (even Percy doesn't pretend the Greek gods are perfect), but against passable and truly evil--Percy doesn't strike out blindly at every member of the opposing army. While monsters and titans are fair game (Riordan's monsters dissolve into dust and don't stay dead anyway), Percy and his friends do their best to disable and not kill the half-blood humans who have gone over to the other side. At one point Percy even endangers an important mission in order to warn some of these rivals to flee an area which is about to be destroyed. Later, he agonizes over whether he killed them.

When we are told how Annabeth received her bronze dagger from Luke, Percy muses, "Maybe under most circumstances, offering a seven-year-old kid a knife would not be a good idea, but when you're a half-blood, regular rules kind of go out the window." An interesting comment, which I as a reader appreciated. Even though Percy's thought is a throwaway, there's a little bit of a "don't-try-this-at-home" tone to it.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Dionysus, the god of wine, is mentioned.

Sexual Content

As in all the Percy Jackson books, the basic premise of the story is that the Greek gods are still alive and still having children with mortals, always outside the bounds of matrimony. This is brought home in this volume when Percy meets his stepfamily. Poseidon's wife and legitimate son are naturally not that thrilled to meet him.

We're told that it's against the camp rules for two campers of different genders to be alone together in a cabin, and Percy feels appropriately uncomfortable when he and Annabeth are suddenly left in that situation when another camper departs.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Percy curses in Ancient Greek. Another character swears in Latin. The words "s**ked" and "s**ks" appear a few times.

After getting on the receiving end of a curse that forces them to speak in rhyme, we are told that a camper tries to stab someone "and cuss them out in rhyming couplets. He was pretty creative about rhyming those cuss words."

At one point Grover mentions a nervous satyr dropping goat pellets. Juniper the dryad steers clear of Percy's giant dog, saying she knows "all about dogs and trees." One character makes mention of cow droppings. There is also mention of the Minotaur wearing nothing but his 'tightie whities'.

Conclusion

This gripping conclusion to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians is certain to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Readers should be satisfied by the conclusion, despite a certain amount of bait-and-switch in a crucial plot element. Readers should also be aware of content noted above, generally consistent with the content of earlier volumes.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 3.5
Written for Age: 11-12

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