A Rant on the Kane Chronicles (& Rick Riordan)
rick riordan sux im angerrrrr things no one will read
I pretty much hate the Kane Chronicles.
I'm really dissatisfied with Riordan's writing in general for a variety of reasons, but I just finished reading The Serpent's Shadow, and it just made me so angry because it was such a perfectly good plot, based on a perfectly good idea, presented in a terrible, terrible book.
I don't know when I started finding Riordan's writing unbearable. I loved Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I thought it was such a great book series, I legitimately loved it. That was when I was in eight grade, over three years ago now. I hope they were actually decent books. I'm not going to reread them ever, lest my good memories of them be tainted by mediocrity. (Go nostalgia) I enjoyed The Lost Hero, and I was okay with the Red Pyramid, but by that last one I was starting to feel like I was just reading the same rehashed book over and over. By the time I read Son of Neptune and the Throne of Fire, I was sure of it. Blah blah normal kids blah blah epic quest blah blah fight random deities in ridiculous situations blah blah team bonding blah blah boring resolution.
Blah blah blah.
Riordan's writing is so incredibly formulaic and stale, by this point I'm only bothering to read his novels for completition sake. I'm done with the Kane Chronicles (thankfully), and I might manage to get through the Heroes of Olympus series, but I don't think I'll be touching anything he does after that with a ten-foot pole.
But firstly, this entry is about the Kane Chronicles, specifically, The Serpent's Shadow and what a huge disappointing mess it was. I'll be addressing a lot of things. Walls of text incoming!
My first complaint is the tone. Specifically, the fact that Riordan doesn't seem to know what story he wants to write. Every page of the book is filled to the brim with unfunny quips about Ha Ha These Egyptians Sure Have Funny Names, and Ha Ha We're Magicians, Look At All The Stupid Garbage We Can Do, and Ha Ha My Sibling Sure Sucks, and Ha Ha.
Which would be okay, if this was a comedy series only satirically including a plot. But it isn't. It's an action series. It tries to set up moments of drama, peril, romance, tragedy, and loss. The problem is that it does so while describing in detail how the Hippo goddess in her high heels and her boyfriend the dwarf in the speedo go around scaring demons with bottle openers for heads.
I can't care about anything that happens in the plot, because we always have the two protagonists (who are both unremarkable and unbearable. I'll get on that later) saying incredibly stupid, out-of-place things.
Like for example, early in the book, a lot of innocent magicians, allies of the heroes, are killed. Around 40, I'd say.
So what do our protagonists do? They mention they're sad like twice and proceed to make jokes about how one of their apprentices is fooling around with magic penguins. The only rational response to that is: Are you actually serious. This is the final book, in which you have to set up a dangerous villain up to be the ultimate evil, and after killing off a group of people, you go back to making jokes. Also, right after that all the kids go off to a school dance. Have I mentioned that at this point doomsday is only two days away?
Then later in the book, one of the characters, Zia, is being overcome with the power of the most powerful god. She destroys an enemy, is overcome with the power she is channeling, and almost dies. We're supposed to be scared for her survival (I'm assuming) and concerned with her developing powers. Of course, that is a little difficult to do, because the chapter in which this happens is titled Bulls With Freaking Laser Beams, I kid you not. It is beyond ridiculous and jarring.
I don't dislike silly things. Silly things are awesome. Just read my interests over to the right, or look at my avatar, or read my blog entries, and you will see that I adore the ridiculous. But if a story is trying to be well-rounded, I expect it to drop the shenanigans and focus on properly developing the plot instead of going on the "How many things can Riordan ruin for Egypt" tour, at least in the parts of the plot that matter.
Secondly, the characters.
Here's the thing: Sadie and Carter Kane are terrible characters and they make reading the books pretty much unbearable.
One of the biggest problems with them is the fact that they don't have distinct voices, at all. I could read for ten pages without realizing the PoV had changed. They're just so unremarkable. You could literally go through any of Carter's chapters, replacing every mention of Zia with Walt/Anubis and every self-pitying comment with a self-glorifying one, and you could call it a Sadie chapter, and vice versa. There is nothing distinct about either. They speak the same way, say the same dumb things, have the same mannerisms...they're just boring. And what's even more annoying is their tendency to say "This is weird coming from me, but [compliment about sibling]." Which might have some meaning, if that didn't happen basically every other page. "I hate to admit it but Carter is a good leader" is repeated like a billion times. Eventually, you just don't care.
What's more, they're static characters, and basically everything they do is related to their RELATIONSHIP DRAMA (more on that later). They don't change at all. In fact, the only times when they experience change is when they almost explicitly say "Look, I have character development now." Carter is just as self-pitying and indecisive at the end as he was at the beginning. By the time the last battle comes and he still cries about how he's not ready, or when he's on a date with Zia going OH MAN WHAT DO I DO you just want to punch his fictional face in the feelings and tell it to grow up.
The worst thing about the book, however, is arguably Sadie Kane, and the love triangle that circulates around her.
She is even more static than Carter, and much like him, all of her actions are driven by her infatuations with a hunky boy who is dying and the super dreamy 5 thousand year old god of death. By the way, both the god of death and dying kid are head over heels for her, for whatever unfathomable reasons. Even if she, by her own admission, really only cares about them for their looks.
A good portion of the book is dedicated to her being confused about her feelings. (If you took out all the parts related to how she wanted to be with both of them you would probably end up with a book two-thirds lighter. Also, 66% better)
However, there is a twist. Unlike in most stories with a love triangle, she doesn't have to make a decision. Not a one.
Because, and get this: The two guys decide to share. Both a body (since one of them would die anyway), and her.
Other than the fact that this is really creepy, it robs Sadie the only chance to grow as a character she had. She never chooses a partner, never makes a single tough choice. She gets to keep both of them without dealing with any loss whatsoever. It delegates her character to one whose entire purpose is truly pointless, fruitless drama. And as her character's interest in the two guys (and supposedly theirs in her? She has literally no attractive qualities as a person.) is only skin deep, this resolution is so much more infuriating.
Congratulations, Riordan. You have written an offensively stereotypical female lead. You should feel proud.
I could probably go on, but this entry is already waaay longer than I ever wanted it to be, so I'll cut it short and just say this:
tl;dr: Don't read the Kane Chronicles