Archive | May 2017

Review: Case Closed, Vol. 3

Case Closed, Vol. 3
Case Closed, Vol. 3 by Gosho Aoyama

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I’m high-school detective Shinichi Kudo. When I went to an amusement park with my childhood friend and classmate, Ran Mouri, I saw a suspicious transaction between some men in black. While I was watching the deal, I didn’t notice another man in black coming at me from behind. The man gave me some poison, and when I woke up… My body had shrunk! If they found out that Shinichi Kudo was still alive, they will come after me and put people around me in danger. Following Professor Agasa’s advice to hide my true identity, I blurted out ‘Conan Edogawa’ when Ran asked for my name. In order to get more information on the men in black, I decided to stay with Ran whose father is a private detective. However, because her father is such a lousy detective, I’ve been using my own deductive ability to solve cases for him. Thanks to me, he’s a famous detective. I may have shrunk, but my intellect is still that of a great detective. There is always only one truth!”

This book consists of 2 finished cases.

This is a story of a secret admirer who can’t speak his feelings through words and chooses the way of murders instead.

Ran and Conan aren’t sure to either blame or thank Kogoro for his recklessness to forget the departure time of the ship they’re supposed to go aboard from their little tour on a little island. Luckily, Hatamoto’s family had celebrated the wedding of the youngest granddaughter of the family on that island and they offer Mouri to join them back to main island on their rented cruise ship. Little do they know that the family head of Hatamoto will get killed that day after some rumor of inheritance spread among the rest of the family. The husband of the new married couple is accused as the main suspect due to his relation as the sole heir of the owner of the rival company. Is it truly a revenge to avenge his father’s suicide due to the taking over of the company by Hatamoto or is it something entirely different? Sleeping Kogoro presents to solve the case once again.

This is the case of someone puts the blame of losing someone dear to another.

A surgeon comes to Mouri Agency bringing many used toys, admitting that he receives all the toys, along with some money, from unknown different addresses for each month in the last 2 years. Despite the happiness of his only boy to receive the toys, the surgeon feels afraid since he cannot find the giver among the circle of his coworkers, families, or even thankful patients. Moreover, today package includes a strange letter, indicating that the sender will take something of surgeon for the replacement of all the toys and money sent. By observing the medical record of the hospital where the surgeon works at, Conan manages to reveal yet another sad case.

What I do like from this book
• A long case involving a big family on a cruise ship. Long case means more complicated case. And in this case, the readers are falsely led to believe that the murderer is the avenging son of a dead rival businessman. I never thought that the real murderer will be the less suspicious and weakest member of the family. It shows that someone looking less dangerous can be the most dangerous of all.
• Ran is convinced that Conan is actually Shinichi after witnessing his behaviors during the second case. Yet, instead of thinking about the logic of a high-schooler turns into such a child, she concerns herself more in the events when she admits her interest in Shinichi. The way Conan tries to convince Ran otherwise by pretending to be extremely attracted to the toys is cute.
• The touching ending of the second case. A heart of a man full of hatred towards the surgeon failing to save his son’s life, leading to him planning to murder the surgeon’s son, melts by the innocent happiness of the surgeon’s son. The fact that the surgeon chooses to forgive the man and refuse to report him to the police for his attempted murder on his son by reasoning that he understands the feeling of a father is very touching. The surgeon truly has a big heart.

What I don’t like from this book
• The murderer in the first case whom I consider a totally psychopath. First, his motive for the first murder is his anger towards the victim who doesn’t bless his desire granddaughter, who is, in a sense, his cousin. It’s a poor reason to commit murder. To prevent unwanted decision regarding the inheritance is much better reason. Moreover, he does nothing to try to speak his feelings to the granddaughter. This man has courage to speak to his grandfather about his intention to marry the granddaughter, but he has no effort to approach the girl. He keeps painting her over, turning himself into a stalker instead of a secret admirer. And nobody notices his paintings after it is too late. He even kills another person to silence him and even hurts himself to avoid suspicion. What a crazy man.
• For the second case, I think the surgeon is a little bit too ‘stupid’, if I may use the harsh word. For a surgeon, I think he should have good enough deductive ability to find out the sender of the toys, money, letter, and flowers, especially from the flowers sent each 3 August. The date has spoken much. He, as the insider of the hospital, can gain access to the hospital record more easily than the outsiders. Can’t he try to find out what happened on previous 3-Augusts by himself? He shouldn’t need a detective to do that for him.
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The Picture of Perfection

Mot 1

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God,
with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through
Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
ROMANS 3:23–24 NLT

Have you ever met someone who seems to be perfect in every way? Perfect
grades. Perfect clothes. Perfect family. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? How come
she and her life are perfect and you and your life aren’t?

Truth is, no one and no thing is perfect—except God. Some people and their
lives might seem that way, but they’re really not. And it’s because people are
not perfect that we need God so much! So don’t let your flaws and your messups
keep you from realizing that you are all God wants you to be. After all, He
doesn’t expect you to be perfect. (What a relief, right?)

So does that mean you shouldn’t keep aiming for excellence? Of course not!
God wants you to do the best you can. But remember that even when you mess
up (and you will), you can run back to Him and ask for forgiveness and
guidance. He’ll forgive all of your sins then whisper, “I love you, precious
girl! Now walk this way.”

Dear Lord, thank You for not expecting me to be perfect!
It helps to know You will always love me, in spite of my mess-ups!

— Janice Hanna

Review: The Titan’s Curse

The Titan's Curse
The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Five shall go west to the goddess in chains,
One shall be lost in the land without rain,
The bane of Olympus shows the trail,
Campers and Hunters combined prevail,
The Titan’s curse must one withstand,
And one shall perish by a parent’s hand.”

Have you ever heard the phrase “to carry the weight of the world on one’s shoulder”? Ever wondered about the origin of the phrase?

After ending the second book with a real cliffhanger, Rick Riordan brings us to the more complicated and mind-blowing adventures of the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians in this third book titled Titan’s Curse.

It is destined by the Great Prophecy that the demigods of one of the eldest gods (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades) will play a great role to either save the world or destroy it when he/she turns 16. Being the son of Poseidon, and the only known demigod of one of the Big Gods, Percy Jackson has only two years more to fulfill the prophecy. However, everything changes when the Golden Fleece supposed to strengthen the magical border of Camp Half-Blood by curing the poisoned Thalia’s tree does it magic far too well. The fleece also revives Thalia, the daughter of Zeus, giving Kronos an extra opportunity to control the prophecy. Now, there are two possible child of prophecy, and one of them needs only one year more to fulfill it…

Now 14-years-old Percy Jackson, together with Thalia and Annabeth, is doing a favor Grover has done for him two years ago, finding two strong demigods Bianca and Nico di Angelo and bringing them back to the protection of Camp Half-Blood. Due to one or more stubborn decisions, their plan doesn’t work well, leading to the kidnapping of Annabeth and their meeting with the Hunters of Artemis. With a mission to hunt a certain creature in hand, Artemis orders her hunters to stay at Camp Half-Blood until her return, so both parties combine forces and leave for the camp, minus Annabeth and Artemis.

However, it is not the last time that they need to combine forces, since, through his dreams, Percy learns Annabeth’s whereabouts, revealing that Artemis has also fallen into the same enemy kidnapping Annabeth. With the prophecy given by walking Oracle to Zoe Nightshade, the loyal lieutenant of Artemis, a team of five is determined to save the maidens from the Titan’s curse…

What I do love from this book
• Nico di Angelo!!! I love this boy. Even before I know his Greek parent. I like his innocence, strength, character, and capability. What a quality befitting the son of Hades, my favorite God in Greek mythology.
• In this book, there are so many other Greek Gods reveal themselves. Artemis, Apollo, Athena, and Aphrodite. Notice how their names start with ‘A’? Anyway, unlike the appearance of Dionysus, I can accept theirs in this book.
• I truly love this part:
“Apollo’s hot,” said Thalia.
“He’s the sun god,” said Percy.
“That’s not what I meant,” replied Thalia.
Oh Percy and his sarcasm.
• Apollo truly loves his sister, doesn’t he? He even risks the Ancient Laws by giving clues to Percy and others in order to help his sister.
• Never guess that the marine cow-like creature called the Ophiotaurus, or Bessie by Percy, is the creature that Artemis seeks. Since it is said that the creature is a powerful monster that has the power to bring down the gods, I kind of expect it to be as fearsome as Typhon. The moral value: something looked so harmless can be proven otherwise.
• Dionysus shows off his power when Percy and the others are cornered by Dr. Thorn after learning about Ophiotaurus. Isn’t it forbidden for him to use his powers? It reminds us that Mr. D is a god after all.
• Thalia’s decision to take Zoe’s place as the lieutenant of Hunters of Artemis, so that she will never turn 16 and become the child of prophecy. In a way, it is a noble idea. However, she puts the weight of the prophecy back to Percy’s shoulder.
• Finally we get the glimpse of the council of the gods in this book, though their topic of the council is whether they should kill Percy or not.

What I don’t like from this book
• This is the first book in the series which involves the death of its protagonists, Bianca di Angelo and Zoe Nightshade. Both of them are my less favorite characters in this book. I do not truly appreciate Bianca’s decision to join the Hunters of Artemis, partly convinced by Zoe, because in doing so she abandons her brother, Nico. Despite my thinking that it is maybe the only process for Nico to be more independent and though her behaviors showing how she cares for her brother a lot in other occasions, I still hate the part when she decides to join the Hunters.
• Still cannot believe that Apollo is terrible at haikus. He is the god of poetry, for God’s sake! But it turns out that his horrible haiku help Percy to notice him immediately when he is in disguise to give advises to Percy and others to help her sister.
• The irony of Thalia’s fear of height despite her being the daughter of Zeus, the ruler of the sky.
• Cannot fathom the idea that Annabeth and Percy manage to hold up the sky, an eternal curse given to Atlas the Titan, even for just a moment. But imagine what will happen if they fail to manage that. There will be no story to told anymore. And we don’t want the story of Percy Jackson to end, right?
• The cliffhanger of the book. Nico tells Percy how he hates him for not saving Bianca, awakening his true power and identity as the son of Hades. AND since Hades is one of the eldest gods, it means that Nico di Angelo is possible child of the prophecy as well (even though he is literally has long passed 16 since he is trapped in that Lotus Hotel and Casino for more than 70 years, which means that technically Hades hasn’t broken the oath, since the three big gods have sworn the oath about 60 years ago and at that time Bianca and Nico should be born already (or being hidden in Lotus Hotel and Casino).
• As far as I know, Hades is very loyal to his wife, Persephone. How could he have Bianca and Nico di Angelo with a mortal is beyond me. However, I rather curious about what kind of power his demigod will have, so I think I will overlook this fact. It is ironic though, even the daughter of the ruler of the Underworld cannot escape death.
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Review: The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“You shall sail the iron ship with warriors of bone,
You shall find what you seek and make it your own,
But despair for your life entombed within stone,
And fail without friends, to fly home alone!”

Do you have a brother or a sister you are proud of? Or, quite the contrary, a brother or a sister you are ashamed of? Make no mistake, sometimes a person you don’t truly like at first will be your best buddy in the end. You just need to be more considerate.

This year, 13-years-old Percy Jackson has to face yet other challenges since he is claimed as the son of Poseidon. His satyr friend, Grover, shows up in his dream, running from the Cyclops Polyphemus. He and his big schoolmate, Tyson, are attacked by Laistrygonian Giants. The only place supposed to be safe for demigods, Camp Half-Blood, is under attack. An unknown intruder has poisoned Thalia’s three, weakening the protection it casts to keep away any monsters from attacking the camp. Chiron the Centaur is fired as the suspected intruder since he is the son of Kronos, the Titan who is on the verge of awakening to oppose the Olympians. His replacement is a guy summoned from the Fields of Punishment named Tantalus who seems to love making his life miserable.

However, it seems that the hardest challenge for Percy is the fact that Tyson is turned out to be a son of Poseidon, which means he is Percy’s half-brother. It is not because of Tyson’s tendency to be bullied back at the school that makes Percy ashamed of having him as a brother. It is also not because he should share his cabin with Tyson. It is because Tyson is a young Cyclops. It is because other campers mock their relationship. It is because he runs into argument with Annabelle and her strong dislike to cyclops in general.

Even so, the trio (Percy, Tyson, and Annabelle) are sent by Hermes to retrieve Golden Fleece, the artifact believed to be able to save Thalia’s tree, as well as to save Grover from the Cyclops. They sail to the Sea of Monsters, or the Bermuda Triangle, to complete the quest. However, they are not the only party searching for Golden Fleece…

The Sea of Monsters is the second book of the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

What I do love from this book
• The baby Cyclops Tyson. I guess it is the first time I’ve ever read about an innocent and warm-hearted Cyclops being the protagonist. I feel sorry for him when Percy feels embarrassed to have him as a half-brother. He adores Percy too much.
• Though at first I feel sorry for Tantalus due to the curse that prevent him to be able to eat anything, somehow I feel satisfied with his suffering and stupid attempts to grab food in the camp. It is such an irony for him that he still can’t have any food in Camp Half-Blood where you can ask for any food and have them materialized immediately.
• And I’m extremely satisfied when Dionysus decides to dismiss him and return him to the Fields of Punishment exactly at the moment when he finally able to grab the food he’s chasing.
• Percy has a very awesome power to be able to know the exact location leading to the Sea of Monsters only by the longitude and latitude. Hey, hey, does that give you an idea? Bring along all the treasure maps you have and let Percy lead us to the exact location! It’s too bad that the power is limited to the sea only.

What I don’t like from this book
• This is the shortest book in the series. The bookworm inside me screams for more pages.
• Why, from all of possible replacements, should Tantalus be the replacement of Chiron? I hate him so much. It seems that he should be thrown into Tartarus instead of the Fields of Punishment.
• Though I do not truly like Dyonisus’ appearance in Percy Jackson series, I kind of miss him in this book. I love his tendency to calls people wrongly and to threat to change them into dolphin or something.
• The Gray Sisters mention that they have transported the original Jason, but they are never mentioned in the original myth. Some argue that maybe they mean Jason the protagonist of Heroes of Olympus, but somehow, all mythical beings in the series always use the word ‘original’ or ‘the first’ in front of the name if they truly refer to the original myth. Does it mean that Rick Riordan makes a mistake here?
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The First Snows of Summer: the Awakening

2

By Enelis C

It was another hot Sunday at the peak of summer in Magica. The sun had begun to descend into the horizon, yet the heat it radiated was still unbearable for most people that they chose to stay indoors being lazy and doing nothing. No one ever thought that one act of innocence that afternoon would make the rest of the day one of the most horrible days in the history of Magica…

To the west of Valdemar, in the village of Erskine on the foothills of Aspasias, two young boys, one was short and plump while the other was lean and tall, were seen playing chase among the tall trees in the outer side of the Oakwood bordering the village. Despite his plumpness, the shorter boy proved to be a strong and agile boy, since he almost managed to catch up the lean boy, ducking under the low and lush branches, climbing and jumping the roots sticking out from the ground.

They reached one of the oldest trees as wide as houses with thick roots as tall as adults spreading around it and the lean boy tried to put some distance between them among the roots when suddenly he vanished with a sharp cry and crash.

“Romeo?” the short boy called, terrified. He stopped midway in his effort to climb a root. He called again in panic. The lean boy answered, but the sound was weak and far he almost couldn’t catch the word. He went to the spot where he last seen his friend. Some of the ground was disappearing into a round hole. He approached carefully and knelt, peering into the dark hole. He saw the lean boy at the bottom of the hole, looking up at him. “Are you okay?” he shouted into the hole.

Romeo nodded and got up, dusting the sand, leaves, and anything falling down with him. He looked around at his surrounding curiously. It seemed he had fallen into a small wooden room. Most of the walls had been covered with moss and roots. There were only a mattress, a small table and a shelf on that room. The shelf was full with books, scrolls, parchments, jars, and other things, but like the rest of the furniture, all of them were covered in moss. He tried to check on the books when his friend called him again.

“Darren,” he called back to the peering boy, “get down here.”

Darren’s plump face was gone from the opening of the hole, letting the sun shone on the small room. Something at the bottom of the shelf reflected the light and made him squint. He squatted down at the same time Darren climbed down the roots to join him and took a small rectangular box from the shelf. He stood back with the box in his hand when Darren jumped and landed with a big thud beside him, making the small room felt smaller. The boy looked around and gasped.

“I can’t believe there was someone living here,” he exclaimed.

“Look at this,” Romeo interrupted. He shoved the box in front of Darren’s face and the boy gasped again.

“A box! What’s inside?”

Romeo took a long look at the box. It had small hinges on one side but there was no keyhole or padlock. He tried to pry it open but it wouldn’t budge. He tried and tried to no avail.

“Maybe it’s broken? It looks so old,” Darren suggested.

“But it is so strange. The other things in the room are covered in moss. But this one is clean like a brand new.”

“You’re right, Romeo. Don’t you think there might be treasure within? Here, let me try,” his friend took the box from his hand and tried to open it but it still wouldn’t budge. “It must be broken!”

Romeo turned back at the books and scrolls scattered on the table beside the mattress. He went to do what he wanted to back then before his friend called him, but, seeing the thick moss covered them all, he pulled back his hand in disgust. Turning around, he saw Darren raising the black box above his head to let the sunray piercing into the hole shone on it and observing it closely. Romeo gave a loud gasp.

“What’s wrong?” Darren lowered his hand and the box was shielded in the shadow of the room. Romeo caught his friend’s hand and shoved it under the sunray. Darren looked terrified. “Wh-what, Romeo?”

“There are words written there!” he exclaimed. The sun ray revealed a thin line of words encircling the black box. Romeo was pretty sure that he had never seen such lettering, but somehow it was not unfamiliar.

“What words, Romeo? I can’t see any.”

He traced the words with his finger, starting from one end of the hinges to another end. Without realizing it, he read them so easily even though he didn’t know and had never heard the words he’d just spoken loudly. Darren looked at him with bulging eyes, as if he had just grown another head, his hands were still raised above his head. And suddenly the box burst open.

***

Darren never felt so frightened before. He was curious about the black box Romeo had found inside the hole. When his friend couldn’t open the box, he took it and tried to open it himself. No matter how strong he tried to pry the lid, it wouldn’t budge. Then he raised his hands and brought the box under the sun’s light to see it more clearly when Romeo gasped. Instinctively, he lowered his hands when Romeo gripped his wrist so roughly and raised it back.

Romeo admitted that he saw some kind of words on the box, yet he couldn’t see any words. The surface was smooth all over, except the random lines on the lid. And the boy suddenly traced the lines with his finger and said something he couldn’t understand aloud. He looked at Romeo’s gaze fixed on the lines and swore that there was something different in his eyes. At that short moment, his friend suddenly became a stranger.

Then the world exploded.

The lid of the box burst open not long after Romeo finished uttering the strange words. A chill wind gushed out from the box with such force that he fell backwards and knocked Romeo down. The wind roared and disappeared from the surface of the hole.

“Wh-wh-what was that?” he squeaked.

Romeo didn’t answer. In fact, the boy had been in a complete daze, laying on his back, his eyes staring into the space. Darren sat up and shook Romeo’s shoulders until the boy jerked and his eyes gradually focused on him.

“What was that?” Romeo asked weakly.

“I don’t know. You opened the box, Romeo,” he managed to say, helping the thin boy sat up. The boy looked so terribly weak.

Sitting there side to side on the damp floor, they peered down at the black box thrown to the corner of the room. It was totally empty. Romeo laughed weakly.

“Why someone keeps an empty box for?”

“I don’t know, Romeo. I had no idea that it was empty. I also had no idea that you could read.”

“But I can’t read.”

“But…” Darren started, more confused than ever, but he couldn’t say anything. They kept silent for a moment, his mind racing, his heart beating fast. Then, he heard a voice outside, and his heart almost skipped a beat. Relief washed over him when he noticed the voice as Heidy’s, big sister of Romeo, calling them out.

“Let’s go up, Romeo,” he managed with a hoarse voice.

***

Romeo never felt so exhausted before. He didn’t understand what just happened back then inside the hole. He remembered that he just spoke aloud unfamiliar words he’d never known before, but he couldn’t remember the exact words. He even didn’t understand how he could read the words. It just as if he knew the words very well. And he suddenly felt so terribly weak as if he had just run for a mile instead of read some words. As if the wind pouring out the box took some of his energy. But that was impossible, wasn’t it?

Anyway, why there was a pretty box with nothing inside except wind? And what kind of person trapping wind inside a box? How could wind got trapped inside the box at the first place?

He felt as if his whole bones had turned into pulp. He barely could climb up the roots back to the surface. Darren went up first and practically dragged him up. He couldn’t help but notice that his friend was scared. He suddenly became so distant and wouldn’t look at him in the eyes. After they got back to the ground, Darren got up and walked in front of him, occasionally glancing over his shoulder to see whether he followed behind or not. He looked concerned but afraid. Afraid of him?

Was there something else he couldn’t remember back then? He winced and groaned inwardly. He just wanted to go to bed soon and rested his exhausted body. He would ask his friend about what happened later.

“Romeo! Darren!” His sister’s calling ringing through the wood. Her footsteps were getting closer. Darren called her back to give her their direction and she found us almost immediately.

“There you are. Let’s go home, kids. The wind is getting stronger.”

Her words just made Romeo realize his surrounding for the first time since he was climbed out of the hole. He could hear the roar of the wind and the rustling of the leaves, feel the wind cold in his skin. Was it this windy before he fell into the hole?

“What’s wrong, Romeo? You look so pale,” his sister touched his face.

“Umm… there’s something we need to tell you, Heidy,” said Darren softly.

Romeo gazed up and just about to say something when suddenly black spots danced in front of his eyes. Then, he couldn’t remember anything else besides his sister worryingly called out his name.

To be continued

Review: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You shall go west, and face the god who has turned.
You shall find what was stolen, and see it safely returned.
You shall be betrayed by one who calls you a friend.
And you shall fail to save what matters most, in the end.

Have you, by any chance, suffered from one of these symptoms?
• The inability to sit still, or stay still, for a long period of time
• The urge to do something, or anything at all, which involves physical motion
• The inability to read or spell or pronounce words
• Surprisingly awesome skill in Latin
• Severe hallucinations and delusions
• The tendency to be involved in a problem, sometimes serious problem

If you suffer from the first and second symptoms, you are an ADHD sufferer. If you suffer from the third symptoms, you are dyslexic. However, if you have all the symptoms above, you might want to take a deep breath before I tell you something that definitely will change your life forever. Oh, before that, I want to make sure some extra things. Do you, by any chance, come from a single-parent family? Or have difficulty with nasty stepmother or stepfather? Has either your mom or your dad passed away since you are so small to remember a face or a voice?

If you answer all my questions with a “yes”, then I must give you my congratulation and condolence. Congratulation! You are, one hundred percent, demigod. Yes. You are half mortal and half immortal. One of your parents is a Greek god. You are special kids with special powers. But here comes my condolence because your life will get more difficult ahead, harmed by dangerous quests, monsters drawn to your power, and, the enemies of your god parent. Only you can determine whether you will survive or not. Are you scared? Don’t worry. Even the greatest demigods should start from zero at first. Like Percy Jackson, the main hero in this story.

Rick Riordan has created the most unbelievable epic and great adventure ever based on my most favorite theme, Greek myth! He answers all my questions about the possibilities of the immortal existence of Greek gods. If Greek gods do exist and they are indeed immortal, I always wonder what will happen to them with the advance of technologies and times. I mean, they are originally from ancient Greece; will they always be like their original description forever? And since fidelity is not their nature, should there be more Hercules, Perseus, or Helen up to this day? Where are they? What will happen to them? Rick Riordan answers them all in a very addictive series of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I love the story, the cliffhangers, and the humors (yeah, many times I caught myself giggling while reading them!).

The Lightning Thief is the first book of the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Percy Jackson, a 12 year old boy with ADHD and dyslexia, tends to get into troubles. He has been expelled from many schools. His teacher changes into a monster and tries to kill him, but it turns out that the teacher doesn’t exist, according to other students. A Minotaur tries to kill him, his mother, and his friend Grover, who turns out to be a satyr. He learns the truth about him being a demigod and comes to Camp Half-Blood, a place for demigods where he is supposed to be safe. But not really. His father claims him publicly and he is no other than Poseidon himself, one of the three eldest gods (along with Zeus and Hades) who have sworn an oath for more than 60 years ago that they will not have demigod children since they will possess too great power that can affect the course of human events. Percy’s existence is a violation of the oath. Moreover, Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen recently, leading to suspicions among the gods. Percy must prove his innocence and prevent the incoming war between the three gods by finding the lightning thief and returning the stolen weapon. Following the prophecy by Delphi, he sets into a dangerous quest with Grover the satyr and Annabeth Chase, the daughter of Athena.

What I do love from this book
• The adaptation of the Greek gods to today America. Expect to find the mighty Mount Olympus on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. Expect to find that Apollo has flying bus rather than a sun chariot. Expect to find Ares battle with gatling gun or even rocket launcher. Expect to what to be expected.
• Camp Half-Blood and its cabins, where the demigods sleep with their siblings from their god parent.
• The amusing habit of Dionysus to call people by wrong names yet still with similar rhyme and his strange tendency to want to change Percy into a dolphin.
• Riptide. I always want a weapon that can reappear in my pocket. That way, I don’t need to be afraid of losing my weapon.
• Annabeth’s invisibility cap. There are so many things I want to do by being invisible, which definitely cannot be written here.
• There are waiting lists to get across the Styx? Chiron needs a pay raise? And Cerberus is a huge three-headed puppy longing to play ball! Even the Underworld has adapted to the civilization, though it is still gloomy.
• The sarcastic and hilarious titles of each chapter and the great sense of humor of Percy Jackson as the narrator.

What I don’t like from this book
• I still find the fact that Zeus manages to keep an oath to have no children for more than 70 years totally unbelievable. Well, he cannot keep the oath by having Thalia Grace, yet for more than 70 years he doesn’t have any demigod children beside Thalia. It is too amazing.
• Dionysus’s appearance. He is supposed to be quite handsome. In the first book of Greek myth I’ve read, his handsomeness is described almost best Apollo’s. So, I kind of disappointed to read that he has a chubby face, a red nose and bloodshot eyes in this series. Or maybe he chooses this appearance because of Zeus’s punishment for him to be the camp director of Camp Half-Blood for a century? Or maybe it is because he is forbidden to drink wine or to do anything related to grapes? If it is the case, I think I understand. I mean, it is similar to forbid Poseidon to control water or to punish Ares to arrange flowers instead of handling weapons. For a century, no less! Poor Mr. D.
• The idea that Ares, the god of war, almost loses to Percy, a demigod. Well, though Percy is his cousin, he is still half human and mortal. I guess, for a young demigod who just has learned about himself not long ago, he is too strong to be able to almost beat a god. Maybe it is because Ares is under the influence of Kronos?
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Review: Radiant Darkness

Radiant Darkness
Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are as obsessed with Greek mythology as I am, you must know that love is one of hot topics among the Greeks. There are countless love stories in Greek mythology: romantic, tragic, ironic, epic, just name it. However, among them, only one story I love the most: the story of Hades and Persephone. Seriously? Yeah. I know. Unless ‘death’ and ‘kidnapping’ suddenly become romantic, unless the idea to be married to someone you don’t love is lovable, it is very difficult to relate those words to a love story. No worries, I have my reasons to be enchanted with their story (I will give my reasons after the summary) and I’m not the only one thinking like that.

In Greek mythology, the story of Hades and Persephone is often called “The Rape of Persephone”. It says that Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest, was picking flowers in the Vale of Enna when a fragrant narcissus tempted her close. The moment she snapped the flower’s stem, the earth split open. Hades, the lord of the underworld, appeared and carried her off screaming and struggling. When Demeter learned her daughter was trapped in the Underworld after searching for her daughter with no result on the earth, she withdrew from gods and mankind, vowing that no crops would grow until she saw Persephone again. Famine devastated the earth. Finally, Zeus commanded Hermes to bring Persephone home. But Hades had already fed her pomegranate seeds binding her to his side forever. Each winter, when Persephone lives underground, the earth shivers and nothing grows. Each spring, Persephone returns to her mother, and the earth bursts into bloom.

Emily Whitman and I do wonder the same thing: what would it be if Persephone wasn’t carried back and forth against her will? What would it be if she made her own choice? Thus, Radiant Darkness is born. I should say, this is the best retelling about Hades and Persephone I’ve ever read. Though it gives an impression of simplicity in narration and characterization, this book does not fail to mesmerize me. The way the story is written so superb; each description of the places and the moments is genuine and alive that I can imagine every detail easily.

The story is told from the first-person point of view, namely our heroine, Persephone. She begins the story by conveying her regret about the myth saying that she was kidnapped and forced by Hades and she’d like to set the record straight after thousands of years of untruth. She first explains how she hates her immortality, trapping in the closed vale made by her mother like a little child needing her protection from the outside world. Though she always says that she is ready to go to the mortal world with her mother, her mother never gives her permission to leave the vale. So there she is, sleeping in the same bed every day, doing the same things every day, weaving on her loom, walking in the meadow, playing with her nymph friends, enjoying the trees, the flowers and the greenery every day. For eternity. Even an immortal will get bored by that.

One day, an unknown sweet smell somewhere in the vale calls her. She follows the smell and finds a clearing in the meadow she never sets her foot on. She finds the source of the heady smell, an unfamiliar white flower blooming in the meadow. And she finds something else along with the meadow and the flower. A strange man is there with a black chariot pulled by black horses, with a gold three-headed dog decorating the chariot. Having never seen a man in the vale before, Persephone runs away before the man speaks to her. Yet, she doesn’t tell Demeter a thing at all from fear that Demeter will trap her inside the house if she knows about the man.

The next day, Persephone goes to the same meadow to see whether the man comes again and decides to let the man speak to her. The man greets her, and that is the beginning of their relationship on that secret place only they know. They meet and talk and get closer each day. He knows her name, admits that she intrigues him, yet Persephone never asks his name, until she accidentally weaves the three-headed dog on her cloth. She learns about Hades from Demeter feeling disgusted by the idea that Cerberus roams in the vale, though Persephone says that she sees the dog in her dream instead.

Thus, Persephone confronts Hades in their next meeting telling him that she knows who he is, thinking that Hades only plays around with her, that a god of his caliber won’t have anything to do with her. Hades uses the opportunity to reveal his true intention, that he wants her as his queen to rule beside him forever in the Underworld. He notices her power and decides she is the perfect match for him. He asks her, truly asks her, to go with him and stay in the Underworld forever with him. He even warns her that once she comes, she cannot go back.

Hating her routine in her heavenly prison of the vale, Persephone thinks it will be a great change in her immortal life. For her, there is no better way than spending her rest of eternity with the man she loves. So, she decides to come to the Underworld without telling Demeter and her friends. There she goes in a black chariot of him, plunging into the depth of the earth. From that day, Underworld has got its queen, a willing one, too. She cherishes her new life, creates her own garden in the Underworld, and befriends new immortal friends (Thanatos and Hermes) and a dead mortal friend.

For a moment, she is a happy goddess, queen, friend, and wife. She is blind to the consequences of her decision to the earth above. Until her curiosity get the best of her and she demands to know what happened on earth above since there are more and more dead souls coming to the Underworld. The dead tells her that the earth is on the verge of its downfall. Severe drought hits the world, nothing can grow on earth anymore, and terrible famine kills most humans. She realizes that her mother is the one behind the catastrophe and the most possible reason why the goddess will do something like that is her decision to leave, that her mother thinks she is taken against her will.

Hermes comes under Zeus’ order to bring Persephone back to the earth because of Demeter’s threat that she will let water showering the earth and drowning everything on the earth unless Zeus gives her daughter back. Persephone uses the opportunity to end the sufferings her mother unleashes to the world and ask Zeus’ blessing for her marriage to Hades. Before leaving the Underworld, she promises to Hades that she will come back to his side. They share pomegranate seeds without her knowing that any food she eats in the Underworld will bind her forever to the realm.

In front of her mother and father (though the story does not reveal Zeus’ identity as Persephone’s father), Persephone explains that she comes to the Underworld by her own will. She admits her love to Hades and her intention to return to his side. Demeter realizes the irony that she actually destroys the world under the false assumption that she is saving her daughter from the lord of the dead. Torn between the truth that her mother actually loves her and her love to Hades as well as the fact that she has been bound forever to the Underworld and her belief that her mother will not stop grieving if she leaves her behind, Persephone asks Zeus to give her the ability to go back and forth between the earth and Underworld. Thus, Persephone the Goddess of Spring is born. Her staying and leaving the earth explains the rotation of spring and winter in a year.

The story about her being kidnapped by Hades against her will has been spread around the world. Though she wants to explain the truth, Persephone decides to let the mortals believe in that story. Those people has been through drought and famine and flood for almost a year. They need the story to believe that they has suffered for a reason. Thus, the story remains as it is today.

I am truly in love with this book from the moment I read the first page until, unfortunately, I flip the last page. I love everything in this book. What I don’t love about this book is the fact that, like other books, this book should end as well. The story is ended with Persephone throws herself into the loving embrace of Hades after she spends her time with her mother on earth. Such a perfect ending, and yet my mind weeps, asking for more. This book is, definitely, will be included on my list of the books I will never get bored to reread.

Now, I want to tell you my reasons for loving the story of Hades and Persephone. I do condemn Hades’ way to marry Persephone by taking her against her will. However, there are so many other things that make me thing that Hades is not the villain in this case.

• It is told that Hades falls in love with Persephone and after watching her for many times from his realm, he decides to go to Olympus and ask Zeus’ blessing to take Persephone as his bride. Zeus decides that it is a good idea, yet he doesn’t bother to tell Persephone or Demeter about this. So, I decide to put the blame on Zeus instead. Though there is a possibility that Zeus thinks that Demeter or Persephone may not agree with the arrangement, but his decision not to let them know cannot be justified.
• The myth says that Hades decides to kidnap Persephone because he is sure that Demeter will never allow their union since she wants to keep her daughter naive and virgin forever by her side. It is a case of a very over-protective mother. I wonder whether Persephone truly wants such life set by her mother for her. By deciding such life for Persephone, Demeter has forced Persephone to lead the predetermined life and who knows, it can be against Persephone’s will.
• Helios, the only god witnessing the kidnapping of Persephone cheers the grieving Demeter that Hades is a good husband for her daughter.
• In some versions of the myth, it is told that Hades is so kind and patient, showering Persephone with many gifts, giving her the opportunity to rule along side with him, even letting her make some changes in the Underworld. He even builds her throne next to his throne. It shows how Hades truly loves her. He is the only God who lets his consort has an equal position with his.
• Hades agrees to let Hermes brings Persephone back to the earth but he secretly slips some pomegranate seeds into her mouth before she leaves. It shows two contradictory perspective. Some might condemn it as an evil trickery of Hades to ensure that Persephone will be returned to him. Some might think that it shows how Hades doesn’t want Persephone to be taken from him. And since it is told that Hades is in love with her, I will vote for the last.
• It is said that eventually, Persephone begins to love Hades back. So, even though Hades uses a violent way by kidnapping her, in the end, they love each other. And it is said that Hades is very faithful husband (except some accidents with some nymphs). Compared to Zeus, Hades is more husband material. So, just accept it as the story of a goddess of life falls in love with the lord of the dead.
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