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Oh Rick Riordan, how you kill me with your cliffhangers. Really? Another one? Are you telling me I have to wait a whole ‘nother year for the next book? Sigh. 

The Mark of Athena picks up right where we left off, with Argo II about to land in New Rome, and of course, with Percy and Annabeth about to be reunited. Together, along with Jason, Piper, Leo, Hazel, and Frank, they must sail/fly to real Rome to defeat a set of twin giants and rescue Nico di Angelo.

That’s the basic plot, but there are SEVERAL subplots; in fact, there were so many that they began to confuse me. To be honest, the only subplots I ever care about concern Percabeth, but I’m being biased. There really are quite a lot of side stories, but all of them managed to keep me engage; furthermore, they were all vital in terms of character development.

Ah the characters. Have I mentioned that I love Percabeth? As individuals in this book, I thought they were fantastic. I loved seeing how much Percy has grown since those first days as a clueless demigod traveling across the country in The Lightning Thief. He’s smarter, braver, and a little bit darker, which I thought fit the tone of the book really well. And Annabeth really came into her own in MoA. She’s always been my favorite character, but she really shows her bravery and wisdom in this book. Her stamina and cool-under-pressure persona is very admirable. Now the two characters together – hands down my favorite literary couple. Ever. Sure, the reunion scene was a little bit of a letdown. But the stable scene, tossing of the knife into the ocean, and just every little smile and holding of hands warmed my heart. And that ending – well, it basically rocked my world in terms of Percabeth. I was crying. Literally crying.

As far as the other new characters, I’m a huge fan of Leo. He reminds me a lot of a younger Percy, but almost funnier and a lot more clueless. As for his relationship with Hazel, I thought I was Team Leo, but their backstory with Sammy – that just weirded me out a little. So, I am now Team Frank. Besides, Frank is adorable. As for Jason and Piper, I could take them or leave them. Piper is just a little too obsessive over Jason, and Jason is just not as cool as Percy… The one character who I really liked and wanted more of was Reyna. She seemed fierce and strong, and she really cares about her legion and her friends. Her scene with Annabeth at Fort Sumter was awesome and I hope there are more like it in the books to come.

Mark of Athena did not disappoint. If you have not read it yet, I suggest you start ASAP. It gets a little slow at parts, but that ending is just… wow. That’s all I can say. I’m speechless. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to be able to wait another 365 days for House of Hades to come out…

photo: http://bookboxdaily.scholastic.com/wp-content/uploads//2012/06/Mark-of-Athena-Cover.jpg