Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1)
The Red Pyramid 
Rick Riordan again produces a fabulous start to a teen series that is sure to fly off the shelves, and indeed already has, in his new series: The Kane Chronicles. 

The story focuses around the Kane children, Carter and Sadie, and the discoveries that they make about their ancestry, not the least of which is the fact that they are Egyptian wizards! Rick Riordan has taken everything that made the Percy Jackson and the Olympians the popular series that it is, and has infused it with the flare of ancient Egyptian gods. 

I'm going to start off by saying that I did read most of the Percy Jackson series, although I still have to finish the last book, and this book and probably the series, if the first installment is any indication, is by far the better of the two in my opinion. 

In Short
I very much enjoyed the story of the Kane children, however the narrative style got to me a little bit and made it hard for me to enjoy the book in all of its glory. 

The Good
The story is great, its original enough to keep me from treating it like I do so many YA books, and the characters are very well portrayed, again, for a YA novel. 

As you might have noticed I geek about whatever form of magic that there is in a fantasy book, I look for background, for clarification, and for ample description of it. Riordan does a good job of fully describing the magic that Sadie and Carter perform, and it helps to create a fuller and more rounded world. 

What I liked about the Percy Jackson series was that it have me a good general overview of Greek mythology, introducing me to it pretty much for the first time, this book does much of the same for Egyptian mythology. Rick Riordan was a teacher for 15 years and he brings a lot of his teaching ability into his books, something that I always like to see. 

The Bad
The only qualm I have with this book is the narrative style that Mr. Riordan has chosen to use. The writing of the book is supposed to be a transcribing of an audio clip that "you" receive and listen to. Throughout the book little side notes [denoted like this] are seen and are supposed to represent comments made by the characters out of context of the story as they're recording the audio.

The chapters are split up into two categories based on whether it is currently being narrated from Sadie's point of view or Carter's, and while this creates some interesting background dynamics for the characters, it is altogether a little off putting for the reader. 

Overall it creates a cheesy way for us to see the interaction between brother and sister, and in my opinion it subtracts from the entertainment value of the book as a whole. Just as much effort as was taken to create better dynamics between the characters "off screen" could have been put into making the interactions within the context of the story better. Indeed, it probably would have been an even better book if it had been done this way, and in a different narrative style. 

I sincerely hope that Mr. Riordan chooses to change his narration style for the next books in the series. Though I'll probably continue reading anyway if he doesn't

The Verdict
At a glance this might appear to be a rehashing of the Percy Jackson story with new characters and mythological theme, but upon further inspection it is a very good and original introduction to a series that I'm sure will become just as, if not more, popular than the Percy Jackson series. I encourage you all to read this, if not for Riordan's writing ability, then for the fantastical story that he weaves. 

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