The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan
The first thing that Jason becomes aware of is that he is on a school field trip to the Grand Canyon for something called The Wilderness School. Jason soon discovers that the Wilderness School is a school for troubled kids. He also finds out that he is apparently a student at The Wilderness School and has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo.
Jason is absolutely certain that he doesn't belong at The Wilderness School and that he has never seen Piper or Leo in his life. However, other than this certainty, his memories are a complete blank. He doesn't even remember his last name.
Once again, Riordan changes his perspective in a series. "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" was told from a first-person perspective. "The Kane Chronicles" is told from alternating first-person perspectives. "The Heroes of Olympus" is told from alternating third-person perspectives (each character takes two chapters). The perspective characters of "The Lost Hero" are, in order, Jason, then Piper, then Leo. Then it is Jason's turn again.
If Riordan keeps experimenting with perspective, at this rate his Norse mythology series will be written in the second person. I think I would love to see that, now that I think about it. "You wake up and discover that you are Odin. You find the lack of depth perception disappointing, but your spear never misses its target so at least you still have good aim . . . ."
Riordan's use of alternating third-person perspectives gives us a chance not only to see what is going on, but also to learn the backgrounds of the characters, which, as I noted in my review of "The Last Olympian," was one of the very few weaknesses of "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." If "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" had been in third person, we would not have had to have had so much exposition worked into the story in "The Last Olympian."
I have to be more specific about the background we learn. We learn Piper's and Leo's backgrounds this way. We do get a bit of Jason's, but since he has amnesia for most of the book, the information we get is sporadic.
Piper was raised by her father, who is a movie star. Since she was raised by her father, her mother must be her Olympian parent, but she is still unclaimed at 15. Piper can convince anyone to do anything, and she does. She has been sent to the Wilderness School because she convinced a salesperson to give her a car. When he realized what he had done, the salesperson reported Piper for theft, and her father's representatives convinced the authorities to send her to the Wilderness School instead of sending her to a juvenile facility. Not too long before the book starts, Piper's father disappeared, but no one other than Piper and her father's assistant, Jane, know about the disappearance.
Leo is an orphan. His Olympian parent was his father, but he is also still unclaimed at 15. His mother died in a fire when Leo was eight years old. He has spent the following seven years in and out of both foster homes and reform schools, largely for setting fires. You see, Leo can start fires without the benefit of things like matches and lighters. Leo spent his childhood occasionally being babysat by a woman he knew as Tía Callida, who did disturbing things such as putting him to sleep in a fireplace -- with the fire burning. After Leo survived Tía Callida putting him down for a nap in a burring fireplace, it seemed to cement in her mind that Leo was someone she had been waiting for.
It doesn't take long for Jason to remember that his father was Jupiter, though other memories take longer to resurface. Upon his arrival at Camp Half-Blood, Jason finds out that one of the most powerful Campers, Percy Jackson, has disappeared and Annabeth has been told that Jason is the key to discovering where Percy is. Annabeth also seems to view Jason as a personal challenge to her. She makes attempts to revive his memories and is truly perplexed by Jason's insistence on calling the gods by their Roman names. Adding to the mystery is the shock that Chiron displays when he first meets Jason.
We find out, unsurprisingly, that this is the beginning of the new Great Prophecy from the end of "The Last Olympian." Big things are happening, possibly even bigger than the events of "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." And, of course, this means a quest.
Jason, Piper, and Leo are the ones chosen to go on the quest, which ends up being a three-part quest. They have to return some storm spirits to Aeolus, rescue Piper's father, and rescue a goddess who has been kidnapped. Along the way, they visit Quebec City, Detroit, Chicago, Omaha, Pike's Peak, and, again, the Bay Area. I adored Quebec City when I was there, and the Chateau Frontenac hotel, where I have always wanted to stay, should I ever have the time to return to Quebec City, figures prominently in that section.
Chicago is my hometown and it was nice to see the sights of Millennium Park through the eyes of the characters. I do need to say one thing about Jason, Piper and Leo's trip to Chicago. At one point they end up in a department store and wonder if the store in question is Chicago's Macy's. When they look around, they decide that it cannot be Macy's.
I left Chicago when the store in question was still Marshall Field's, so that is how I think of it. Despite my not being a huge fan of shopping, Marshall Field's has always been one of my favorite buildings. As a result, far from seeing something that is not Marshall Field's, the store that Riordan describes has the décor of Marshall Field's turned up to 11. There is an atrium surrounded by balconies and with a stained glass ceiling. Marshall Field's has not just one, but three atriums (atria?) lined with balconies and all three have glass ceilings including one which is a world-famous Tiffany glass ceiling. I have no idea if Riordan ever visited Marshall Field's or not, but I do find it an interesting coincidence if he hasn't.
"The Lost Hero" ends with the main quest -- and most of the main questions -- finished and leads into the third book in the series, "The Mark of Athena." You see, we have a small perspective switch to find out where Percy has been during the events of "The Lost Hero" in the second book in the series: "The Son of Neptune."