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The Magic of Growing Up: Review of 'The Chalice of the Gods' by Rick Riordan, by Ava Shaffer

4.5 stars

Rick Riordan brings readers back into the magical, mythical world of Percy Jackson with The Chalice of the Gods. In this newest addition to the series, the iconic trio of Percy, Annabeth and Grover team up for the first time since The Lightning Thief. Readers follow these beloved characters as they complete a most daunting quest: securing letters of recommendation for college applications. Percy and his friends must grapple with the changes fast approaching their lives, defeat minor gods and goddesses, and go to the most stressful brunch known to man. The Chalice of the Gods is full of imagination, engaging plot details, loveable characters, witty dialogue, and clever reworkings of classic Greek mythology. It’s got everything that always makes a Percy Jackson book so good.

Read This Book If You:

  • Loved the original Percy Jackson series

  • Appreciate well-placed and humorous pop culture references

  • Want a quick and heartwarming read

  • Know the struggles of college application season and, like Percy, have spent hours agonizing over recommendation letters and personal statements

Listen, Rick Riordan never disappoints! Every time I sit down with one of his books, I know I’m in for a good time. I know there will be characters I care about, thrilling pacing, a plot that’s well-structured and entertaining at the same time, deeper themes embedded into the story, and chapter titles that make me laugh. He’s got such a way of crafting worlds that sucks readers in and keeps them there. All these elements in his books make them nostalgic reads, which is why I loved The Chalice of the Gods.

As soon as I started reading, I remembered how much I missed Percy’s voice. His narration is so fun and engaging. I could be reading about the most boring plot but still not mind it if he was the one telling the story. Even in scenes where Percy is just sitting around the dinner table with his family and friends, I am so engrossed in the story because of the lively characters, witty dialogue, and comforting atmosphere this book evokes. Chalice of the Gods did an excellent job of mixing those peaceful mundane scenes with an exciting plot as well. I loved the pacing and the different trials Percy went through for his letters of recommendation. Every battle is so imaginative, and the imagery is always cinematic; I can see the action in this story like it’s playing across a big screen. 

Growing up, I loved learning about Greek mythology from the Percy Jackson books, and I’m happy to report that I am still learning from these books. The Chalice of the Gods features minor gods and goddesses, such as Elisson and Geras, whom I didn’t know anything about prior to reading. Riordan’s storytelling is an impressive blend of excitement and education. He uses clever pop culture references to craft these characters to be understood in a modern context. For example, learning that Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, had an Etsy shop made me both laugh and deepen my understanding of her as a mythical figure. Riordan has his finger on the pulse when it comes to well-written pop culture references, which he includes so subtly that it is a perfect recipe for honoring the original stories while making them accessible to modern audiences. 

The Chalice of the Gods felt like a love letter to New York City. I love its location-centric nature and the specific New York settings that Percy, Annabeth and Grover explored. It felt like going back to Percy’s roots, where he grew up, and the places he loves. There were also such fun battle locations in this story too. Riordan has a talent for transforming familiar places (a Chuck E Cheese or hippie farmers market, for example) into a clever rendition of that location in the Percy Jackson world, a world that readers love to return home to.

The thing I love most about Percy Jackson books is how a theme or life lesson is always effortlessly intertwined into the story. It never feels forced or cliche to me; it just works. In this book, I was especially impressed by the way themes of growing up and new chapters in life were at the heart of the story. The choice to include the specific minor gods and goddesses and Percy’s musings on the upcoming change in his life felt so sincere and moving. For me, The Chalice of the Gods struck the perfect tone of becoming more mature but still holding on to this beloved series’s youthful and whimsical nature.

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