Book Three in ‘The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze’ by Rick Riordan

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Every book in “The Trials of Apollo,” the ongoing series by brilliant writer Rick Riordan, seems better than the last. “The Trials of Apollo” differs from the other Riordan demigod adventure series that have captivated middle grade, young adult, and adult readers since the first one, “The Lightning Thief.”

What sets this series apart is that the main character, the narrator, is Apollo. Apollo is a god who has lived for millennia, and as such his wisdom and experiences are far greater than that which any teenage demigod might have experienced. While kids will love the series because it’s filled with demigods, adventure, strange creatures, more adventures, and lots of magic, adults will really enjoy the humorous references to history — both recent and ancient — that are liberally sprinkled throughout the story.

Will middle grade readers understand this?

“I had not been so uncomfortable in a group hug since the Rolling Stones’ first 1969 show at Madison Square Garden. (Tip: As tempting as it might be, don’t throw your arms around Mick Jagger and Keith Richards during their encore set. Those men can sweat.)”

No, young readers will not (probably) know who those musicians are. But historical and cultural references are a part of reading good literature, and this series has plenty of cultural and historical references in each and every book. And the adult readers will love the humor!

Apollo continues as Lester Papadopoulos, a flabby and acne-ridden teenager, trying to save the world from three extremely evil emperors from ancient Rome. They are trying to control the world, and Apollo, in his horribly mortal form, must fight them. Apollo keeps hoping his father will forgive him and return him to his godly state, but alas, that does not happen in this book. He must rely on his unusual sidekicks to help him conquer a talking horse, fuzzy huge-eared creatures, dryads, satyrs, many cacti, and Meg. Meg is the nose-picking, often clueless demigod who he must obey. The readers find out a lot more of Meg’s backstory in this book. Demigods from other series make appearances, and more will appear in future books.

This series, perhaps more than any other, will be beloved by teachers trying to teach inference to their students. Riordan makes Apollo’s voice one that is at the same time arrogant and self-centered but also self-deprecating. For example:

“Meg and Grover had already lost interest in me, as if my feelings were not their primary concern. (I know. I couldn’t believe it either.)”

Riordan fans are constantly amazed at the seemingly never-ending supply of creative and imaginative creatures, plots, situations, and humor that he uses in his writing. Each page is filled with clever and funny. Each book is a joy to read. That’s why every teachers feels fully comfortable recommending “The Lightning Thief” and the rest of its series to any  middle grade readers — it’s a sure-fire hit no matter the reader.

Start the Apollo series now and get in on the fun!

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Disney-Hyperion, the publisher, for review purposes.

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