Instead, this book pulls a lot from The Odyssey, which is ironic considering I recently found out that I'm gonna be teaching that this year. Anyway, the book starts off as Percy finally having lasted nearly a full year at a single school (which is kind of an HP parallel, too... instead of DADA teachers not lasting a year, Percy can't stay in a school for more than a year). He's also befriended Tyson, a rather large and unpopular guy, who was brought in as an educating the homeless project of some sort. He's a bit slow, though nice and misunderstood, unlike the rest of his kind... but I'm getting ahead of myself. In other words, he's like a mentally handicapped version of Hagrid (I know Tyson is supposed to be just a "little kid," but he seemed more "special" to me, if you know what I mean). Anywho, Annabeth shows up and drags Percy (and Tyson by extension) to Camp Half-Blood, where Thalia's tree-o-protection has been poisoned and monsters are attacking. Not long after, Percy realizes he must save Grover, who has been captured by Polyphemus, the cyclops defeated by Odysseus, and who is also guarding the Golden Fleece. And, imagine that, they also realize that the Golden Fleece could be the only thing to heal Thalia-Tree and save the camp. So off on adventure they go... even if they were told not to.
I really didn't have any major issues with this one. It strongly followed the same outline as The Odyssey, but that didn't bother me. Some of the previous characters get bigger roles, such as Clarisse, who I'm actually enjoying as a character (she's kinda like Draco-lite: she doesn't come off as completely threatening, and is at times likable). It introduces some fun new characters, too. Tyson is a great character, mostly due to how innocent he is (I loved the whole "Rainbow the Hippocampus" bit). I also really liked the god Hermes, introduced in this book. His bits, though there are only two, are really funny.
And that's another thing. This book had more humor than the previous. Well, I mean that the humor didn't seem as forced as the first, or was at least witty enough for me to appreciate. But there was an overall good mix of humor and action.
This book also wasn't nearly as predictable as the first, despite following the Odyssey outline. I knew how it was going to end merely because I had it accidentally spoiled for me beforehand (some stupid person on imdb brought it up in a topic for the first movie). Though, and you'll know what I'm talking about if you've read the book, I liked the reasoning behind why the ending bit happened. I didn't see that coming, honestly. And although the baddie is ripping off Voldemort more by the second, he's actually beginning to become more threatening by showing his cunning and deceitful ways.
If there was anything about the ending that I didn't like, it was the end of the penultimate chapter (at the end of the chariot race). It was so cheesy. Like, the ending of the movie version of Chamber of Secrets cheesy (which is an ironic comparison as I've already made the Hagrid/Tyson comparison). It just felt... forced and fake and incredibly cheesy. But maybe that's just me.
Maybe I can get through the next three books without spoilers or easy predictability. I've been told that, like Harry Potter, these books do get darker and more intricate as the go, which makes me happy. If it keeps going on this path, the next few books will be great and fun. Though the series thus far has been fun already. And this second installment was no different. If you enjoyed the first one, you'll really enjoy the second.