I haven't felt this much despair since I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Mockingjay was full of misery and I felt quite depressed after rea...moreI haven't felt this much despair since I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Mockingjay was full of misery and I felt quite depressed after reading it, but nothing compares to reading about the characters you've basically grown up with facing the "real" world outside of school, going through all sorts of obstacles that forced them to make some very difficult decisions. Harry, Ron, Hermione, I thought nothing could compare with your story.
But then I read The House of Hades.
(view spoiler)[ I thought the ending of The Mark of Athena was pretty devastating, but Percy and Annabeth's chapters in The House of Hades was much, much worse. I was constantly sniffling when I read their chapters in the first half of the book. They went through so much pain and suffering, not only from the Tartarus environment, but also from enemies they encountered. The worst thing was them having to face the consequences of hurting so many people and monsters during their lives as demigods. Because after they are killed, monsters are sent to Tartarus, we not only see some new enemies, but also meet some familiar ones. Percy and Annabeth experienced some really horrific things while they were in Tartarus, but thank the gods they had each other. Percabeth has been my OTP since the very first Percy Jackson book, so dear Rick Riordan, I'm not even asking for a happy ending, just please, please, please keep them both alive by the end of the series!
The crew on the Argo II didn't have it much better either. Leo, Piper, Jason, Hazel, and Frank each had their own defining moments, but it was Hazel and Frank who had the biggest roles in The House of Hades. Throughout their journey, Hazel must learn magic so she could defeat a sorceress at the House of Hades; while in Venice, Frank finally came to accept the fact (and the gifts/skills/blessings given to him) that he was the son of a war god, a blessing that he then used to lead a ghost army of Roman legionnaires in their battle at the House of Hades. Leo was funny as usual, but there was also a new intensity to him, like he was more obsessed with his tinkering and snapped easier when something went wrong. I was heartbroken when I read his chapters in Ogygia, even though it was a short break from all the dark chapters in Tartarus. Meanwhile, I still think Piper and Jason are a bit meh. Piper is awesome when she's not just thinking about Jason, and she did become more badass by getting better at using charmspeak and learning swordfighting, sadly I still don't find her as interesting as the others. As for Jason, well, he's as stiff as ever, but I liked how his and Nico's confrontation with Cupid was told from Jason's point-of-view. I thought it was one of his finer moments as a leader and as a friend.
In The House of Hades, we learn a lot more about Nico and Reyna. I had always found Nico endearing, and the pronouncement of his sexuality doesn't change how I feel about him. If anything, it helps me understand his character better, his dynamics with Percy, and why he stays away from others. (hide spoiler)]
I liked The House of Hades better than The Mark of Athena, but to say if it's better or not would take a second read, which I'm not ready to do just yet because I'm still trying to get over all the feels and despair that I felt while reading it. Having some of my characters in a really horrible place, with a seemingly doomed future, made me much more emotionally invested in this book. In fact, I had to put the book down a couple of times because some of the suffering that Percy and Annabeth went through in Tartarus were a bit too much too bear. Overall, though, I think it's one of the best books in the series aaand I cannot wait until The Blood of Olympus comes out next year!