Arts & Culture Books

The Hidden Oracle: a mythical and daring start to Rick Riordan’s series, The Trials of Apollo

This adventurous YA fantasy novel is filled with imagination and creativity.

The Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan, will blow your mind. It is filled with exciting adventures and has a very catchy story based on ancient mythical and historical events.

The story follows the character Apollo–a 4000-year-old god who has been turned into a 16-year-old boy with acne as punishment from his father Zeus. Zeus is angry because he believes that Apollo has interfered in a war. So he was was punished, turned into a human and sent to earth. He is left powerless now: just a smart teenager whose name in the earthly world is “Lester Papadopoulos.” But he is tasked with an important mission to find three emperors and thwart their conspiracy to take control of all oracles. This book focuses on the first: Nero.

Apollo is an interesting character with a very humorous personality. In one scene, he explains what a “strix” is to his companion, Meg:

“Er, they usually feed on the young and week. Babies, old people,paralyzed gods…that sort of thing. But I’m pretty sure they don’t make good pets.”

While on this quest, Apollo can’t use any special powers to save himself. This creates more danger and jeopardy for him than he’s used to. As a result he often has to rely on the help of his powerful companions.

I love being immersed in this world of gods and demigods. Each of them have unique powers. Meg, for example, is a demigod with the power to grow vegetable or fruit plants very quickly, even growing them to be as tall as a building. Their other companion is Grover who was “the Lord of the Wild.” He is a satyr, which is a creature with the lower body of a horse, the upper body of a male human, and horns on his head. He also has a good sense of direction and can summon anything.

My favorite character in the story is Meg. She is cute, trustworthy and very brave. She also really likes to be bossy towards Apollo and she would sometimes try to even scare him with her magic. But she is a very kind person at heart. After Apollo had been forced to live as a human, Meg saves him from being attacked. And another thing: she has a sidekick whose name is “Peaches”–a type of spirit that have some similarities as a peach that helps Meg when needed.

I recommend this book for people who are about eleven years old and above, as there might be some hard vocabulary in this book that might not be understood by younger readers. Here’s a sample of the text from the story when describing Palm Springs:

“Below us stretched a landscape only slightly more hospitable than Mars. Sun-blasted ocher mountains ringed a valley patchworked with unnaturally green courses, dusty barren flats, and sprawling neighborhoods of white stucco wall, red-tiled roofs, and blue swimming pools.”

It is beautiful writing, but words like “sprawling,” “ocher” and “hospitable” might be a bit challenging for younger readers.

I have so far found this book so unbelievably exciting. It’s mostly because this story is based on ancient Greece, and the details from that world are fascinating. Lester and his companions go through a lot. Some parts are a bit scary because of the dangers that are lurking everywhere they go, but they always win the battles and make it out alive. Since they are expected to meet three emperors that are part of their quest, I really want to see what the second emperor is going to be like. I can’t wait to get my hands next book in the series to find out how they are gonna finish their second quest and what other dangers will happen on their adventure.

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