The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, #4) - Rick Riordan
Great, with a footnote...

House of Hades was great. the story was fun and the characters are endearing...which is a feat considering there are anywhere from 8 to 12 key characters you are rooting for.

Here's the footnote, particularly for parents like me who want to be informed about what their children are reading. (For those who care--Minor spoiler alert concerning a character that does not involve the plot).

Nico, who is around 14, reveals he is gay and has had a long-term crush on Percy. He feels great shame and sadness because of his feelings. The other kids want to be his friend, but he keeps them at a distance because of his feelings. Jason learns of Nico's feelings for Percy and responds with positive support but agrees to keep the information private at Nico's request.

This is obviously a sensitive topic. My personal opinions aside, I appreciate that there are youth and adults everywhere trying to navigate life as a person who feels same-gender attraction, and that for those individuals there are many, many challenges. My heart goes out to those who feel less about themselves because of it, especially teenagers who are already dealing with a lot as it is.

I do not appreciate, however, that the author has taken it upon himself to give children a point of view with out giving their parents a chance to weigh in. This is a topic that parents should be able to discuss with their children in their own way and on their own timetable. Rick Riorden is forcing parents into this discussion, possibly before their children are ready for it.

I will let my kids read The House of Hades, but not until I feel they are ready to tackle this topic. And when they do read it, I'll be close by, asking them questions and making sure they understand.

Full series review will come when I've finished the series!

SERIES REVIEW
Dang. What a disappointing end to an exceptionally fun series.

Is it really so hard to write a satisfying ending? The Blood of Olympus, the fifth and final book of the Heroes of Olympus series, lost its way--and not even everyone's favorite demigods could save this book from itself. After four years of build up, everything about The Blood of Olympus felt rushed. The ending, which should have been magnificent, was forced and anticlimactic. Somewhere along the way Nico's personal problems replaced saving the world as the main conflict the series needed to resolve, and it's felt from front cover to back cover of The Blood of Olympus. That ending...blah. I was so disappointed.

Which is such a bummer, because up until the last book, Heroes of Olympus was so much fun!

A watch out from parent to parent: In the 4th book, The House of Hades, the character Nico, who is 14, reveals that he feels same-gender attraction to Percy Jackson. He says he has had a "crush" on Percy for a long time. We learn that the reason he stays distant and keeps to himself is because of his heartache and shame. In the 5th book, Nico continues to struggle with feeling shame and guilt. He finds acceptance in the end, and he discovers he really does have a place to belong after all. He tells Percy about his feelings, and in the last few pages forms a potentially romantic friendship with another boy. The issue is treated positively, and I can appreciate that a youth reading about what goes on in Nico's head would give them an important perspective on how someone experiencing same-gender attraction might feel. Certainly the hope is that this will help them respond with an understanding heart when they encounter a similar situation in real life. However, as I expressed in my review on The House of Hades, I feel it was presumptuous of the author to present this sensitive topic in a children's book without giving parents a chance to discuss it with their kids first.

The Heroes of Olympus series is A LOT of fun! The last book was disappointing, but I'll still be recommending the series to my children who are at least 11 or 12. And I'll stay close to them as they move through so that when they get to book 4 and 5 we can have some important discussion.