The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan

While I thoroughly enjoyed Rick Riordan's 'Heroes of Olympus' series, I was dismayed by the way the author handled Nico di Angelo, his first major gay character. I applauded Riordan's efforts to be more inclusive, but Nico seemed downright tortured by his sexuality, which—considering both modern attitudes towards sex and other, far more pressing problems in the poor kid's life—felt unnecessarily overwrought. I'm assuming I wasn't the only person to complain, because Riordan's latest book, The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle, handles its gay and bisexual characters (which include the protagonist!) with matter-of-fact good cheer.

In The Hidden Oracle, Zeus has booted his son Apollo out of Olympus, cursing him with the body of a human teenage boy. Apollo isn't 100% clear on why his father is so angry... or what he needs to do to get back in his good graces... or much of anything, really, except for the fact that being human sucks, and he wants to get back to his carefree godly lifestyle as soon as possible. But after he accidentally becomes the indentured servant of a grumpy demigod girl, it begins to dawn on Apollo that his divine behavior might not have been quite as much fun for the people around him.

Riordan has a gift for creating affable characters, and Apollo is no different. The Hidden Oracle works best when it focuses on Apollo's slow maturation—it treats his divinity as a kind of extended celebrity adolescence, and his humanity as an opportunity to finally grow up. (Imagine a bisexual Justin Bieber cursed with partial amnesia and a lot of monstrous enemies.) Once again, it's probably best not to think about any of the plot details too hard, but Riordan has created another funny, exciting, and genuinely charming installment in a series that, in less skilled hands, could easily feel formulaic and tired.
Posted by: Julianka


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