Series: The Kane Chronicles,
Published by Disney-Hyperion on August 16th 2011
Genres: Young Adult, General, Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives. Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them--Set–has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe -- a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
Beware: Review May Contain Minor Spoilers!
One of the things I love so much about Rick Riordan’s books is how multicultural they are, without feeling like forced multiculturalism. Riordan manages to bring up themes of race, racism, sexuality, and the idea of family in such ways that make the reader think without feeling they’re being preached to. Riordan did this beautifully in his Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, and does it again in The Kane Chronicles.
“Carter, you’re getting older. You’re an African-American man. People will judge you or harshly, and so you must always look impeccable.”
In the story we meet two siblings, Sadie and Carter, who get split up once their mother dies in a freak accident. Sadie stays in London with her mother’s parents, and gets to live a “normal” life, while Carter follows their father around the world on business. Besides distance, the siblings are separated further by the appearance of race. Sadie looks like the mirror image of their caucasian, English mother, while Carter takes after their African-American father. The fact that Sadie was won in a custody battle by their mother’s parents, drives another wedge between the children. This makes for some interesting character development… until it doesn’t. This is pretty much where the differences between the children end. True, Sadie is the rebel and Carter is more serious, plus there is a two-year age gap, but the dual perspective used to tell the story isn’t as effective as you would think.
Riordan’s use of dual perspective seemed pretty unnecessary, because the two protagonists sounded like the same person. I often had to check the chapter to figure out which character’s POV I was reading the story from. I feel he did a better job in the PJ&TO series, then he did here. Another gripe I have with The Red Pyramid is that is seemed like a rehash of Percy Jackson.
The Red Pyramid begins with the siblings getting reunited, and then their father is kidnapped by a god. Of course, the kids must save him and the world. Been there, done that. I think the beginning of the story wouldn’t have been so weak if the book focused more on the family secret, and the children’s identities instead. Sure, it would have been a bit more Harry Potter-esque, but it may have made the first 100 pages or so more interesting.
“Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need. And the only way to get what you need is to make it happen your self.”
The beginning was weak, the children’s bickering was a bit grating, and their ages seemed absurd. In the novel Carter is 14 and Sadie is 12 years old. These ages are too young for their voices in the story. While it is possible that their life and circumstances could have made them more mature than most children their ages, I think the story would have fared better by making them each 2 years older. Especially in light of the object of Sadie’s crush. A 14-year-old liking a 16-year-old is no big whoop, neither is a 12-year-old liking a 16-year-old. But when the 16-year-old appears to fancy the 12-year-old…. yuck! Just a change in their ages would have made the characters (and their dialogue) a tad more believable.
Aside from the characters, I had a problem with their powers. Sadie appeared to be magically more powerful throughout the book, while Carter was basically useless. In fact, he barely did anything until the final battle at the end. Despite Sadie’s apparent skill, the siblings almost always had to be rescued, instead of being forced to figure out things for themselves.
Do I Recommend?
Maybe. If you haven’t read Percy Jackson & the Olympians, then I think you’ll really enjoy this series. However, if you have, then The Kane Chronicles will pale in comparison. Riordan did such a masterful job with PJ&tO, that it’s hard not to compare the two series. Especially since Riordan did nothing really (aside from changing the mythology) to make TKC different. However, as much as I’m complaining about the book, I did manage to enjoy it. It just took about 100-200 pages to really get into the story. Since I kinda liked it.