Monday, July 26, 2010

REVIEW: The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1)Riordan, R.  (2010).  The Red Pyramid.  New York:  Hyperion Books.

516 pages.

Appetizer: Well, despite my polite request, Riordan has started ANOTHER series.  The Kane Chronicles begins with The Red Pyramid.  14-year-old Carter and his younger sister, Sadie, have been raised apart.  Carter's dad has dragged Carter around the world working as an archeologist.  When the Kanes visit Great Britain to see Sadie on Christmas Eve, their father still can't keep himself from working and takes Sadie and Carter to the British Museum.  There, the siblings witness their father doing some type of magic over the Rosetta Stone, magic that unleashes powerful forces and get their father lost, as their mother had been lost years before.

Sadie and Carter soon learn that they are the descendants of powerful Egyptian magicians.  And if they want to save their father they'll have to learn about their newly emerging powers and find away to capture the five Egyptian gods their Dad unintentionally unleashed, focusing most on the red, fiery one bent on introducing more chaos into the world.

I have to admit, I'm not as knowledgeable about Egyptian myths as I am of Greek ones.  It seemed like Riordan was aware of this possibility since instead of baiting readers to try to guess which gods have just entered the story like happened in some of the Percy Jackson books, this time Riordan just briefly summarized a lot of the myths throughout the narration.  But more often then not, I was still left going "Say what now?  What was that?  What happened in that myth?  How are these gods related?  Siblings or couple?  Siblings or couple?!"  Of course, this confusion can be a jumping off point for young readers to go on and actually read some Egyptian folklore collections.  I, on the other hand, was content with my confusion.

Every two chapters, the narration switches back and forth between Sadie and Carter.  Although, from time to time, I'd forget who was narrating.  Did anyone else have that problem?

Riordan definitely made an effort to have them sound different.  Sadie is supposed to speak with a British accent and there was definitely some British slang.  I also liked her sense of humor, but throughout most of the book there wasn't much else that set Carter and Sadie's voices apart.  (Although, making sure to label the narrator at the top of each page was an easy clue to help me figure things out.)

The book is meant to read like it's an audio recording.  This made me very curious about the audio book.  And they did use a female narrator to give voice to Sadie and a male one for Carter.

I listened to about a third of the first disk and had to stopped.  Both of the narrators had little habits that I found vaguely annoying.  Although, it was very obvious who was narrating.  I guess you win some, you lose some.

I also had a little trouble with Sadie's age.  She felt older than twelve.  But then, that could have also been wishful thinking on my part.  What with her having the hots for the very immortal *cough* old *cough* Egyptian god of funerals.  Wait a few years, chica.  The emo appeal will fade.

It is also worth noting that aside from focusing on family, this series is going to touch on some issues of race.  I love that the Kanes are a multiracial family.  While Sadie looks white, Carter appears black.  He has to deal with worrying that police officers will stereotype him, with the fact that he and his sister don't look like they're siblings, etc.

I have to admit, technically I think I was reading this book for about a month.  I got about halfway and took a loooooong break.  I couldn't put my finger on why, but then my boss (who read it rapidly) explained that she felt the book went too many places.  And she's right.  London.  Paris.  Egypt.  New York.  Washington D.C.  New Orleans.  Texas.  New Mexico.  Arizona.  Washington D.C. again.  New York again.  Sigh.

It was a bit exhausting and I was only reading about it.  Plus, around the halfway to two-thirds point, the Kane siblings are finally given their answer on how to prevent the rise of chaos for the time being.  It involves going over there and getting this thing and then coming back here and doing this thing and oh, you'll also need that other thing.  And I was kind of like, For Serious?  My arms are already tired from holding up this beast of a book.

But then, maybe I'm just lazy.

And so begins the wait for book two.

Dinner Conversation:

"We only have a few hours, so listen carefully.
If you're hearing this story, you're already in danger.  Sadie and I might be your only chance.
Go to the school.  Find the locker.  I won't tell you which school or which locker, because if you're the right person, you'll find it.  The combination is 13/32/33.  By the time you finish listening, you'll know what those numbers mean.  Just remember the story we're about to tell you isn't complete yet.  How it ends will depend on you" (p. 1).

"Okay, Sadie is telling me to stop stalling and get on with the story.  Fine.  I guess it started in London, the night our dad blew up the British Museum" (p. 2).

"We were alone in a strange mansion with a baboon, a crocodile, and a weird cat.  And apparently, the entire world was in danger.
I looked at Sadie.  "What do we do now?"
She crossed her arms.  "Well, that's obvious, isn't it?  We explore the library" (p 83).

Tasty Rating:  !!!

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