Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles, book one)
By Rick Riordan, read by Kevin R. Free and Katherine Kellgren
Published 2010 by Brilliance Audio

I, like most other Percy Jackson readers, was extremely curious to find out how Riordan's other series held up. As my boyfriend had also recently exhausted all the Percy books and the first Heroes of Olympus title, and seeing as we were embarking on an 18-hour car ride (one way!), I picked up the audiobook for this title and we listened, eager to satisfy our curiosity.

Carter and Sadie Kane may be siblings, but you'd hardly guess by looking at them. And you'd be hard-pressed to catch the two of them together - they've been living separate lives since their mom died. Carter now globetrots with his Egyptologist dad who homeschools him and teaches him everything you ever wanted to know about Egyptian gods and artifacts (yes, you may be saying "I didn't really want to know about those things..."). Sadie lives with their grandparents in London and has the totally rad British accent and lingo to prove it. Getting together for their one day a year, the siblings accompany dear old dad to the British Museum, where, in short order, there is an explosion, some magicians, their dad disappears, and the god Set is released. Now, the Kanes must set on a quest to stop the gods from destroying them or the world.

I have to say: I was not disappointed with this read. I know other people have felt it doesn't really stack up to Percy and his books, but I think that's unfair. If this book were too much like the Percy books, people would be mad about that. While Riordan uses pretty much the same idea in this book that he did with his other series, this book is unique enough to stand on its own merits. The dual narration works really well here - creating great moments of suspense when switching between one narrator and the next. Additionally, I almost think the Egyptian mythology works even better than the Greek mythology because it's that much more unique. Greek mythology (and even, to perhaps a lesser extent, Roman mythology) is ubiquitous in our culture - even people who have never studied the myths generally know the basic stories. To me, that makes Riordan's use of Egyptian mythology in this series that much better. I know nothing about it, so the book becomes even more exciting as I learn about it. This book is just as well-developed as the Percy Jackson series, with tons of action, some romance, lots of humor and a phenomenal cast of characters.

Additionally, this is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to. Both readers have done extensive narration work and it is easy to see why. They have voices made for listening to - clear and just plain fun to hear. They are both excellent at changing their voices to differentiate between characters, whether subtly or more completely. This book was basically made to be heard - the narrative is written as the characters' audio recordings of the events that transpired. I didn't know this when I picked up the audiobook, but I clearly made a good choice. I've started reading the second book in print and, I won't lie, some of the magic is lost.

All in all, I highly recommend this to fans of Riordan's other series and especially the audio version.

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