Diane Owens's Reviews > The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
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Aug 05, 2011

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Hi all. I’ll be offering reviews of middle-grade books, based on the 6+1 Traits. The traits – Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions and Presentation – are used by teachers across the country to pinpoint effective writing.

The Lost Hero is a great example of the Organization trait. Organization, when done well, does more than guide the reader through the story. It also creates anticipation – the just-one-more-chapter or just-one-more-page feeling that keeps us reading all night long (and not minding a bit). It’s all about pacing - the ebb and flow of excitement and worry.

Riordan leads readers through The Lost Hero by using a pattern of three viewpoints: Jason, Piper and Leo. The viewpoints are always in the same order and each character gets two chapters every time. The point? Readers know what (and who) to expect, making it easy for them to settle in to the story. But Riordan’s talent really shines when it comes to pacing and creating anticipation. He builds tension and conflict so readers are eager to hear from each character again but are just as – or maybe even more – eager to jump into the mind and feelings of the upcoming character. Why? Because readers quickly learn that the story is about to turn; the story is about to make the most difference to the character they know is coming next. They know this because Riordan makes sure of it. Every single time.

In this way, the anticipation Riordan builds in this book is more character-driven than plot-driven. All three characters are telling the same story in the same chronological order, so we’re not left worrying about what happens next for any extended amount of time, like in a typical cliff-hanger. Instead, the anticipation is caused by a desire to see how each character will respond. And because Riordan knows what he’s doing, readers are always connected, through strong character viewpoint, with the one character most upset by the current event. Brilliant.

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