When the book arrived I began reading it almost straight away but by the time I reached the end of the first or second chapter I knew I needed to stop. Before I started reading 'The Lost Hero' I knew that it was a continuation of the Percy Jackson universe but, as someone who reads this type of series already, I wasn't sure if this was going to be a totally new set of characters and story lines or if it was going to lead on from the first series - Within the first couple of chapters it became Glaringly obvious that this was a direct continuation (even if in a small way) from the previous 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' series.
Now if you're someone who doesn't obsess over reading things in the right order, or isn't too bothered about reading the previous series then you wouldn't need to worry but, the stickler that I am, I couldn't continue reading this book until I'd read the previous, five book long, series because I knew that One Day I'd want to read them and I didn't want to learn any more than I already had! I already had the Percy Jackson series so I, immediately, started reading it... it took less than a week. The books weren't the longest but the most important part of the speed at which I read them is down to the fact that they were so easy to read. There's no getting away from the fact that the series was written for a younger audience (the leads begin the series at the age of 12) but I didn't find that that detracted from the story or the characters and I was quickly immersed in this universe of Gods and heroes, of Greek mythology and terrifying quests.
If you've not read the 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' series you could easily decide to ignore the younger years of the novels and read from this newer series, with it's older characters and, thus, slightly older story lines (Still firmly YA but 15-16 year old YA compared to 12). If you're not sure whether or not you'd still like to read the original series first then I urge you to pick it up first - The 'Heroes of Olympus' series is great as a stand alone series but you'd definitely not want to read it and Then read the Percy Jackson series as you'd already know far too much about what's going to happen.
'The Lost Hero' was a cliffhanger from the absolute outset - How? Well because you begin with a character who has no memory... that's a cliffhanger without any need for further plot. But more than that you're thrown straight in to the action, within the first couple of chapters your characters are battling unknown spirits and being thrown straight into a different world. We start the story with Jason (the amnesiac), Piper and Leo who all attend a school for children who've been 'challenging' in their pasts. On a school trip they're attacked by storm spirits and suddenly learn a lot more about themselves than they could possibly have imagined (Apart from Jason who's still left with a lot unknown).
Oh yes, we're sticking with the vague. I don't want to tell you too much because that's for you to read, and find out, but I will tell you that it's fast paced, it's full of intrigue and it's gripping. Sometimes writers of YA don't worry as much about the writing quality but there's none of that from Rick Riordan, the stories are well written and the language is evocative. I absolutely loved the Greek mythology in the first series and that continues with abundance during this newer series - It's amazing how much history Riordan has woven into this universe, how many well known Greek figures are brought to life and how many obscure ones are introduced to us, and we're able to learn about.
And the fifth book? Well I've not reached 'The Blood of Olympus'* yet - The moment I finished the first book I bought the second, third and fourth - I didn't pick up the fifth as it's brand new and I thought I'd wait until I got to the end of book four. As it happens I'm not far off, now, I'm part way in to 'The House of Hades' - I had to slow down on the books, a little, as I had other review books to read and I'm trying to catch up on other things so I wasn't able to read them at, quite, the same speed as the previous series but I am still totally hooked. Whenever I get a few minutes I pick it up to carry on with the journey that the team of heroes has undertaken - The stories are still rich and beautifully written, there's no slowing down, as the series continues, with this author, it's going to be a gut wrenching adventure until the very end! I absolutely can't wait to see what happens in the last book, it feels like I've been on a really long journey with these characters and can't wait to see how the final chapter plays out.