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Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan is the second in the Percy Jackson series, about a young man who finds out he is a half blood: half human, half god.  Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon, and in modern day America, that can only mean trouble.

In the first book in the series, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Percy finds out who he is, and sets out on a quest with two friends he has made at Camp Half Blood, a kind of summer camp for children like him.

In this book, Percy is back in the mortal world, trying to survive another academic year without bad things happening to him.  It is too much to hope for, and the last day of school finds Percy on the run from Laistrygonian giants trying to blow him to smithereens.  He is helped by his friend Annabeth, daughter of Athena, who featured in the last book, and a new friend, Tyson, who he has made friends with at school.

Taking refuge at Camp Half Blood they find that things have changed there, and not for the better.  The Camp is under attack, and unless Percy and his friends can find a way to save the day, the end of their world is inevitable.

I won’t give away any more of the story, because part of the enjoyment of the book comes from all the twists and turns that Rick Riordan peppers the pages with.  The books are fast paced and exciting with lots of wonderfully unexpected twists, both sad and funny.

Riordan does a brilliant job of taking the classic Greek myths and revitalising them for a modern audience.  They are a great resource for hooking children into an interest in Greek and Roman myths and culture, as the basis of all the quests, plot lines and characters in Riordan’s very modern books, are all true to their original story forms.

The books are suitable for confident readers aged about eight and up.  I am reading them to my six year old son, and he loves them, although we do spend quite a bit of time discussing some of the aspects he finds more tricky.  The names can be problematic as Riordan tends to stick to the original names for the heroes, gods and monsters. In the back of the book is a guide on which monster/god/hero is who and how to pronounce the names though, which is useful.

My son, and my ten year old daughter are totally smitten with these books though, and we have sped through this book in a fortnight, and have the third lined up to go.

The books are slightly too long for guided reading, but could be read over a term by the teacher.  They are suitable for boys and girls as there are great characters of both genders, and some great monster characters too.

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters is also available as a graphic novel, and will be coming out as a film in Summer 2013.