Title: The Red Pyramid
Author: Rick Riordan
Pub info: Disney-Hyperion, 2010; 516 pp
Genre / Audience: fantasy adventure / ages 10+
Caveats for Younger Readers: none, though it's a long read for the under 10 set, and the plot gets pretty complicated
Rick Riordan gained fame from his Percy Jackson series, which focused on kids descended from Greek gods. Here, he takes on Egyptian mythology.
Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.Status: finished 9/17/14
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them—Set—has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe—a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
Rick Riordan is a master of middle-grade adventure, and in The Red Pyramid he kicks off his three-volume Kane Chronicles series with a bang. Even those of us who don't know much about Egyptian gods get caught up quickly in this battle between good and evil. Like House of Secrets, which I recently reviewed on this blog, The Red Pyramid keeps the adventure coming page after page throughout its considerable length. But let's face it: Riordan is just better at writing this stuff. The novel reads like a good action film--problems crop up that seem in hindsight inevitable, and everything follows logically in this tightly woven, though complex, plot. Adding to the fun is Riordan's technique of switching off point of view between Carter and his estranged sister, Sadie. Each character brings something unique to the story, and their voices are distinct and offer varying perspectives. Even the fact that they're a mixed-race family comes into play. Characters aren't going to be covered in huge depth when you've got this much action going on, but they are developed.
Riordan is just plain funny, too. He really gets what makes middle-grade readers laugh, and Sadie especially brings a snarkiness that helps temper the book's scarier moments. The humor overall keeps the story from getting horrific, planting it square in the realm of old-fashioned, edge-of-your-seat adventure. Kids won't even realize they're learning quite a bit about Egyptian mythology in the meantime, which is a bonus. Thankfully, the series is finished, so I can launch right into Book 2 (The Throne of Fire). The only caution here is that the length of the books will intimidate some readers, but the read is lightning-quick.
Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus (a spinoff of the Percy Jackson series). He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults. His children's books have won dozens of awards.
His next book will be The Blood of Olympus, the final installment in the Heroes of Olympus series, due out October 7. He's also working on a new series featuring Norse gods, the first of which is scheduled for publication next year. For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. Now a fulltime writer, he lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.
Rick maintains a fantastic website here, which gives not only information on all his projects but great background on Greek and Egyptian mythology. Teachers' guides, FAQs, and all kinds of goodies are rampant on this site. You can also find Rick on Twitter and Facebook. Read a preview of The Red Pyramid here.
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Shannon Messenger's blog to see more fun links to great middle-grade reads and giveaways!