The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Do you love greek mythology? Do you wish you could get apathetic youngins interesetd in it as well? The "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series is perfect for all your Epic Mythological needs! The second book in the series follows Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and a new addition; the homeless outcast Tyson, befriended by Percy at his new school. On Percy's last day of an otherwise uneventful school year his gym class is attacked by monsters, and Tyson proves invaluable in the world's deadliest dodgeball game. Then when they get to Camp Half-blood, there is more trouble as an enchanted tree protecting the camp has been poisoned. Questing must ensue! And, with a little help from his powerful Dad, Percy starts to understand his powers as a half-blooded hero. These books have the Harry Potter perfection of well mixed characters (I just can't get over Percy, Annabeth, and Grover as Harry, Hermoine, and Ron, but in truth the formula works.) The adventure, the cleverness, the harrowing escapes works so well to bring the actual greek myths to life for kids, and updates the stories for modern kids perfectly. My favorite example is the Circe story (remember her from the Odyssey? Oh, and the cyclops Polyphemus)runs a health spa where she shows men their true selves (guinea pigs, because regular pigs were too problematic and guinea pigs are, let's face it, cuter.)
Anyway, quite generally this sequel makes me happy. There is no floundering, no running out of steam. It is obvious that Riordan planned this series out well, and he knows his stuff, and best of all he knows how to make it appeal to kids (and, well, adults.) I will admit that I like the more subtle or maybe just more obscure mythology in Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boy's (both of which are for an older reader anyhoozle.) And, for bloodpounding nonstop adventure and acton, Percy Jackson will take on anyone in the arena.
Honestly, I don't know what to tell you about finding read-alikes for these, except that I was reading Edith Hamilton's Mythology like it was the newest Stephenie Meyer (had Stephenie Meyer been writing blockbusters back then) at age 12 and 13. Maybe the logical next step is to get them into accessible mythology, especially greek, but think of all the amazing stories from around the world. I can't imagine reading these books and not wanting to know where these fascinating monsters and long ago gods came from originally.
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