The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, Book One) by Rick Riordan. May 3, 2016. Disney-Hyperion. 384 pages. Ages 10-13.
The god Apollo has been cast out of Olympus and sent to earth in the form of a 16-year old mortal boy, acne and all, completely stripped of his powers as punishment for his descendant Octavious' role in the gods' recent battle with Gaea.
He finds himself on the streets of New York, and quickly set upon by some street thugs. To his humiliation, he is rescued by a 12-year old girl named Meg, who turns out to be a demigod, and finds himself bound in service to her. He convinces her they must get to the safety of Camp Half-Blood, and they enlist the aid of Percy Jackson.
But once at Camp Half-Blood, they find that strange things have been happening, including the inability to communicate with the outside world, the disappearance of several campers, and the loss of the Oracle of Delphi. Then two of Apollo's children disappear, and he and Meg set out in search of them and the Grove of Dodona, a grove of ancient, prophetic oak trees thought long gone but miraculously regrown in the woods around the camp.
Apollo discovers who the mastermind is behind everything that has been happening, and fights to save the Grove of Dodona, his children, and Camp Half-Blood itself, only to be betrayed by the person he felt the closest to and bound to protect. Now he must follow the prophecy given to him by the Grove of Dodona and set out on a quest to find Meg and stop The Beast.
This is the first book in Riordan's latest installment of fantasy-adventure series based in Greco-Roman mythology. While the god Apollo is the main character and narrator of this series, Percy Jackson and many of the other characters from the first two series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus, make an appearance as well.
This book started out a little slow and I got a little tired of Apollo's non-stop self-centered self-pitying, but the pace picks up and things get more interesting once they get to Camp Half-Blood and other characters join the story. It was a decent read, but didn't seem quite on par with Riordan's previous books. But I've also read a number of mythology-based novels lately, so I could just be a little burned out on the whole genre. Personally, I think Riordan's last book, The Sword of Summer, was better written with more character and plot development, and more action.
Obviously I would recommend this to fans of the previous Percy Jackson series, as this is a continuation of that story, or any of Riordan's other mythology-based series. I think readers who enjoy fantasy-adventure in general would probably like this as well, and it's not dependent on reading the prior two series. This book takes a different twist on the usual story of a seemingly normal tween/teen discovering that they have divine or supernatural powers, and instead has a divine entity losing his powers and becoming a seemingly typical teenager, complete with acne and flabby abs. I think many teens will find Apollo's feelings and experiences as a mortal teen very relatable.
Other Books By This Author
Rick Riordan has written several mythology based series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus, The Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, as well as several companion books, graphic novel versions, and non-fiction mythology books, in addition to some adult fiction.