Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Red Pyramid (Rick Riordan)

The Red Pyramid
(The Kane Chronicles, Book 1)
Rick Riordan
Disney-Hyperion Books
Fiction, YA Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Young Carter Kane has a life many middle-schoolers would envy, traveling around the world with his famed archaeologist father Julius. In reality, it's tough living out of a suitcase, never staying anywhere long enough to make friends... and only visiting his sister Sadie in England a couple times a year, if that. Sure, she's a pain in the neck, but she's still family. Sadie, meanwhile, does everything she can to rebel against her stodgy grandparents, jealous of how Carter gets to spend all his time with their father, to whom she seems little more than an afterthought at best or a painful reminder of her dead mother at worst. When Julius turns up in London for a Christmas Eve visit, neither kid is surprised (or particularly excited) when his big holiday surprise is a visit to the British Museum... but this night will change their lives forever. Julius starts meddling with the Rosetta Stone - and chaos literally erupts, as long-imprisoned gods are released. Now Carter and Sadie are on the run, learning things about the Kane lineage neither parent ever told them, such as their connection to the ancient pharaohs and the magic in their veins... not to mention their ties to the long-exiled gods. With the god Set quickly building an army of demons to retake the world and a secret society of magicians ready to execute the kids as a danger to creation, the Kane children must master their untested powers fast if they want to survive.

REVIEW: Riordan's Percy Jackson series took ancient Greek myths and made them fresh and relevant for modern young audiences. Here, he does something similar with Egyptian tales, exploring the roots and ongoing influence of one of history's most powerful civilizations. At first, I wasn't quite sure if he was pulling it off. The pace is relentless, with very little down time to process events, making me a bit numb and overwhelmed and making the parts look a little pre-packaged (the estranged siblings, the parents hiding Big Secrets from kids, the dead mother, the secret society of magicians, etc.) As the story unfolds, though, it comes into its own. Carter Kane deals with a peculiar upbringing and, more than once, with being a black kid in a white-skewed world - and with having a lighter-skinned sister who doesn't understand why he has to be much more careful with his appearance and demeanor. Sadie grows during the tale, too, with her own demons and troubles. Being a middle-grade title, there's an occasional dip into silliness, though nothing crass. Like the Percy Jackson series, Riordan doesn't stick with the pop-culture veneer of Egyptian mythos, but delves deeper into more obscure layers, even offering an explanation for how relationships between gods seem to shift through different stories while repeating the same patterns. Overall, it's a decent story of magic and adventure and sacrifice, and if it's a little breakneck, well, it is written for a younger, generally more impatient audience.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Fablehaven (Brandon Mull) - My Review
The Lightning Thief (Rick Riordan) - My Review
The Mummy (Widescreen Collector's Edition)- Amazon DVD link

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