Author: Rick RiordanRating: 4 stars
Review contains spoilers
My initial reaction? Not as awesome as Mark of Athena, the previous book.
However, Riordan skipped the literal cliffhanger ending this time.
Beggars can't be choosers.
HoH had the usual kick-ass action but each character had their own chapters with slow moments where readers were treated to amazing character development:
Nico-I thought Riordan was brave for officially stating Nico had a tortured crush on Percy. I feel like most readers shouldn't be shocked. Since the beginning, Percy made a impression on Nico and Bianca's death complicated matters greatly. Nico's meeting with "Cupid" was one of the best moments in the book. Other characters, such as Jason, Percy and Annabeth all reflected on how Nico was hard to read but I feel like they all got to know him better, indirectly or not. Nico saved Percy and Annabeth's lives while he was in Tartarus. Jason witnessed Nico's confession about Percy, which cleared up a lot. Hazel and Nico's bond also strengthened but that'll be in Hazel' segment.
Leo-Talk about #1 for character development. I didn't see Leo/Calypso coming at all. After a former foe blasts Leo to Calypso's cursed island, readers see how Leo completely changes. He's mostly on his own, separated from his friends and has no idea how much time has passed or if Gaia has taken control of Earth. And also, he and Calypso fall for each other. Readers find out Calypso and Percy's past impacted the present (more on that later) and Leo vows to get Calypso off the island. Something tells me they are endgame and unlike her past suitors, he means it. It won't be easy.
Jason-The son of Jupiter got more of a personality and identity in HoH. Torn between his Roman roots and Greek experiences, Jason seems to embrace his Greek side. Choosing is a huge internal battle but he finally makes the decision. Also, one interesting point is how the other characters continue to show mistrust for him because of Gaia and the prophecy. I think it's a bit unfair because Jason and Percy are the beginning and end of the prophecy in my eyes.
Hazel-Pluto's daughter and Nico's half sister kicks serious ass. Not only does she manage to control her curse but she acquires new stills that save the seven demigod's lives. Hazel can now control the Mist, showing enemies what they want to see. Hazel also comes far with relationships. She and Nico are close and bond over their past experiences. Her relationship with Frank is solid. Hazel/Leo are also put to a rest. Leo is a changed man after Calypso and Hazel realizes how her past was Sammy, not Leo. I never shipped them so frankly I'm happy, no pun intended.
Piper-The ass kicking continues. Riordan writes less about Jason/Piper and more about Piper/becoming badass. I didn't mind this one bit. Piper successfully beats one of her most infamous foes, but not without losing Leo. I think this plot proved how all demigods take one step forward and two steps back. Hazel also teaches Piper how to swordfight after this said event which was awesome. I hope we see her skills evolve in the next book.
Frank-After Leo, Frank is the runner up for development. He goes through physical and emotional transformations. In the past, Frank seemed unsure of his power and felt like he was not contributing to the group. In HoH we see him go into serious combat mode to save all of his friends. Ares/Mars rewards Frank by giving him a fighter form. Aka the start of a good puberty. Not only is Frank more sure of himself, but he seriously steps up and makes an important change to Roman leadership, Not to mention he bonds with Coach Hedge. That alone is the best accomplishment.
Annabeth and Percy-They make it out of Hades alive, but barely. Not only do they almost die over 9,000 times but they discover how the underworld works. All the evil they conquered in the last comes back to bite them in the ass. Think of all the monsters and evil they killed. Now think about all the curses the dead may have wished upon dying. Yeah, not pretty. Goes beyond bitter feelings. One shocker for Percy was finding out Calypso may have wished him ill. Also, Percy shows he has a dark side which scares Annabeth. This excited and disturbed me. Was it the effects of Tartarus? Is he just growing up? Or is it something more sinister? We only have one book left so I am hoping it's not the latter. Annabeth and Percy both made hard judgement calls on their journey--Riordan heavily hinted the lasting side effects will be in the next book. Our favorite couple both see some of the pain they cause and make unlikely alliances with one Titan and giant. They also both discuss their future and the possibility of marriage and kids. It's hard not to squee.
Everything else-The demigods successfully acquire the weapons and items they need to fight against Gaia and her giants or stop the Romans from attacking Camp Half Blood. Even minor characters like Reyna and Coach Hedge grow as characters.
Annabeth telling Percy she loves him at the beginning, as they fall down into Hades.
Percy mentioning he's tired of looking like an extra from The Walking Dead.
So the next book, out October 7 2014, will be The Blood of Olympus. Sounds ominous. Will Riordan attempt to sacrifice one of the seven or kill anyone off? Will readers see more of the other Roman and Greek half bloods? Will the Gods ever get a grip and be helpful again?
Until then, demigods.