The Last Olympian
This fantasy adventure is the fifth book in " Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series by Rick Riordan and is published by Miramax Books, a division of Hyperion Books for Children.
The Last Olympian is written for kids ages 10 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Percy Jackson, half-mortal and half-Greek god, has known his demi-god (or "hero") status for several years. As the son of Poseidon, the sea god, he's gone on several quests to aid and rescue gods or other half-bloods similar to himself. He spends his summers at Camp Half-Blood, where he and other heroes find magical protection from monsters and learn how to cope with — perhaps even embrace — their unusual heritage.
The long-anticipated war between the Titans and the Olympian gods begins. Percy, nearly 16, and a fellow camper named Beckendorf intercept a ship carrying some of the Titan army and its leader, Lord Kronos. Kronos, birth father and nemesis of the gods, has inhabited the body of a half-blood dissenter named Luke. Beckendorf dies when he and Percy blow up the ship, but Kronos survives. Percy escapes underwater to see his father, Poseidon, and his Cyclops brother, Tyson. He considers joining the battle they're waging to preserve the seas, but Poseidon urges him to return to Camp Half-Blood and help fight Kronos.
At camp, Nico, son of Hades, tells Percy they need to understand their enemy before they can fight him. Nico takes Percy to Luke's childhood home, where they meet Luke's mother. She once had an ability rarely found in mortals, to "see through the Mist" and view gods and monsters as they really are. When Luke was small, his mother tried to use her gift for good by becoming a physical host for the Oracle of Delphi's disembodied spirit. But Hades had placed a curse on the Oracle, which made this impossible and left Luke's mother insane. Luke's bitterness at his father, Hermes, for not saving him from a crazy mother drove Luke to side with Kronos. Nico and Percy also meet Hestia, goddess of the hearth and "the last Olympian" who surrendered her position of power to keep the peace amongst her siblings. Her visions help them discover that, like Luke, Percy must get his mother's blessing and then bathe in the River Styx so he can become invincible.
After doing this, Percy returns to New York City. Through an elevator at the Empire State Building, he and his army of campers reach modern day Olympus — the city they must defend. Though the gods are largely unwilling to help in battle, they offer visions and warnings. Back in Manhattan, Percy and the others (including his friends Grover, a satyr, and Annabeth, the daughter of Athena) fight many battles against Kronos' monsters while the mortals of the city sleep under the spell of Morpheus. Percy receives visions about Nico's past and cryptic messages from Rachel Dare, a girl who also can see through the Mist, in his dreams. At each point, when the battle seems most bleak, another unexpected god or hero joins the war to defend Olympus. Kronos is finally defeated when Annabeth reminds Luke, still trapped deep inside his own body, that he promised they would always be family. Luke summons the strength to overthrow Kronos, though he has to kill himself to do it.
After the battle, the Olympian gods offer Percy the honor of becoming immortal. He refuses the gift but asks for the gods' promise to claim and interact with their mortal children from this point forward. The curse on the Oracle is reversed, and Rachel Dare becomes the new Oracle of Delphi. Percy and Annabeth cement their relationship with a kiss as they prepare to remodel the city of Olympus and interpret a new prophecy.
Other Belief Systems
As a whole, the gods have little involvement in the day-to-day lives of their demi-god children. They will appear or provide power to the kids on rare occasions often when they need human assistance to accomplish a personal goal. Many of the demi-gods resent their illusive parents. When Kronos, father of the Olympian gods and goddesses, wages a vengeful war against his children, he uses the demi-gods' bitterness to draw many to his side of the battle. Rather than accept immortality from the gods for his heroic deeds in the war, Percy makes the Olympian leaders promise to claim and pay attention to their half-blood children. He believes better parent-child relationships will keep future disagreements from escalating into war.
The heroes replace any potential use of the Lord's name with "gods." There are several instances of phrases like "Oh my gods" or "gods bless you." One demi-god yells, "Holy Zeus!" The words suck, heck and darn each appear a time or two.
Action-packed battles and swordplay are common in this story. The fact that monsters dissolve rather than die significantly reduces the images of bloodshed. Many of the teenage heroes are injured, and a few are killed. Thalia, a huntress, wears a "Death to Barbie" shirt depicting a Barbie doll with an arrow through its head. Hades, Lord of the Dead, wears a cloak displaying "the terrified faces of the damned" and rides in a chariot decorated with scenes of painful deaths. When he and Nico join the Olympians in battle, they bring along an army of skeletal, undead soldiers who claw their way out of the Underworld.
Rachel gives Percy a goodbye kiss on the cheek. Percy recalls Annabeth kissing him when she thought he was going to die. Annabeth kisses him at the end of the story as they make their affection clear to one another.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What does the goddess Hestia (a.k.a. the last Olympian) mean when she says sometimes the hardest power to master is the power of yielding?
- How did she demonstrate this power and for what purpose?
- When have you had to practice the power of yielding?
- Was it difficult?
Tell me about the situation.
Why is it important for Percy to learn about Luke's childhood?
- Have you ever learned something about a person you didn't like that helped you understand the person better?
What are the meanings of the phrases "fatal flaw" and "Achilles heel"?
Which characters' weaknesses are mentioned in the story?
Why does Hermes say he couldn't change Luke's fate?
Why didn't Hermes tell his son what to do so Luke could have avoided all the pain and suffering?
What is Percy's final request of the gods?
- Why is it important to him that the gods acknowledge their children?
- Have you ever felt like you didn't get the proper respect or attention from one or both parents?
- What was the situation?
- How did you feel?
- What can I do to make you feel respected and loved?
When the residents of New York City are asleep due to a spell, various demi-gods discuss whether or not to raid their favorite now-unattended stores. Several seem to be fine with stealing, while others, such as Percy, forbid stealing and suggest leaving money at a drug store if they need medicine.
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Readability Age Range
10 and up
Miramax Books, a division of Hyperion Books for Children
Best Seller Lists, 2010: USA Today, Wall Street Journal and L.A. Times