The Hidden Oracle is the first of a new series by Rick Riordan entitled The Trials of Apollo, which follows on from the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series and focuses on the Greek God Apollo who has, after the events in the Heroes of Olympus series, been kicked out of Olympus and been made mortal.
First off, it’s not necessary to have read the Percy Jackson books or the Heroes of Olympus series before you read this one, but I would strongly advise doing so if you want the full affect. A lot of what I felt throughout this book was brought on by the cameos from old faces from the PJO/HOO books, and that kind of affection wouldn’t be there if you jump straight into this one. Another question I’ve heard thrown around a lot; is this book middle grade or YA? I’d say it’s somewhere in no-mans lands between the two, it definitely pushes the boundaries of middle grade on the violence front (there were some shockingly dark bits, mostly veiled by a wall of humour) but I’m not too sure it’s YA either. In any case it doesn’t matter all that much because what this book was was extremely enjoyable.
Before we have only ever followed Percy as a main protagonist and narrator in Riordan’s Greek God world (I’m excluding HOO because that was in third person) and we all loved Percy, so Rick had some work to do to convince us to stick with this unlikely narrator. And he definitely managed it.
Apollo is punished by the gods by being made mortal, a fate that has actually befallen him before, but this time its even worse. Because this time Apollo has both lost his six pack and managed to gain some acne- how much worse could it get? Well, let’s factor in that now Apollo is mortal he can actually die. Be killed. For real. And there are some big nasty monsters determined to capitalise on Apollo’s new vulnerability.
Apollo must escape to the safety of Camp Half Blood, a save haven for demigods and other mystical creatures alike. Only there will he be safe. Unfortunately on his way to finding the famous demigod hero Percy Jackson Apollo bumps into a feisty girl named Meg (well ok, she saves him from some thugs) and she claims him as her godly servant and protector. Apollo’s day keeps getting worse and worse.
One of the BEST things about this book, and there were a lot of great things, was the unashamed bisexuality of the protagonist. It’s there in black and white, not ambiguous in the writing at all. HE’S BISEXUAL! He explicitly mentions on MULTIPLE OCCASIONS that he has had relationships with both men and women. Which is a massive breakthrough, not just for YA but also for Rick Riordan’s books, as his only other two gay characters in the past could have easily been mistaken for two good friends.
Also NO ROMANCE in this book at all. When I first heard about Meg I was sketchy but Meg, as it turns out, is like 12 years old. This book focuses on familial relationships and strong friendships, and the lengths people will go to to protect who they love.
A BISEXUAL PROTAGONIST WHO DOESN’T FALL IN LOVE WITH ANYONE!!!!
Ok, I’ve said enough about that now.
Overall Rick’s humour shone through in this book, and his characters all had some much personality it’s hard to believe that most of them have only been around for a book. The cameos from characters from PJO/HOO made my day, and also this book gave a FINAL conclusion to that end of HOO series cliff hanger which made the whole thing two times better if you ask me.
I’m giving this one a 4 ice creams out of 5, just because the storyline wasn’t all that complex nor memorable- but what was memorable was the one liners, the chapter titles and the amazing characters. I can’t wait for the next one!