I finally read it. After being asked to, and told to, I finally did. Aaaaannnnnnnd......
it's just not that good.
Maybe it's because I haven't read Riordan's other books in this newer Heroes of Olympus series,
maybe it's because every other sentence is telling the reader about some event in a previous book,
maybe it's because the cast of The House of Hades has hundreds and hundreds of characters,
maybe it's because it is written like a daytime soap, one short scene, cut to another short scene with totally different characters, repeat,
(maybe this sentence is long enough) but I just couldn't get into The House of Hades.
But plow through it I did, dear reader.
All the controversial homosexual business is in Chapter XXXVI (36), or pages 281-293 of my library's hard-bound edition.
Teenage half-mortal demi-gods, Jason and Nico have set off on a mini-quest to the city of Split in Croatia to retrieve the scepter of Diocletian from the palace of Diocletian.
Prior to this chapter, and referenced at other times throughout the book, the demi-gods are made aware of pagan places (like Diocletian's palace) being turned into Christian places (like a Christian/Catholic cathedral), and Diocletian is not happy about it.
Back to Jason and Nico. They run into the god of the West Wind, Favonius, who serves Cupid.
While explaining why he serves Cupid, Favonius says, " I fell in love with a mortal named Hyacinthus. He was quite extraordinary."
"He...?" Jason's brain was still fuzzy from his wind trip, so it took him a second to process that. "Oh..."Favonius goes on to explain that Apollo was also in love with Hyacinthus. Favonius was jealous, so he killed Hyacinthus. Apollo turned Hyacinthus into a hyacinth, and spared Favonius in exchange for his servitude.
"Yes, Jason Grace." Favonius arched an eyebrow. "I fell in love with a dude. Does that shock you?"
Honestly, Jason wasn't sure. He tried not to think about the details of godly love lives, no matter who they fell in love with...."I guess not. So...Cupid struck you with his arrow, and you fell in love."
A strange game of cat and mouse, or god and demi-god ensues as Cupid tries to get Nico to reveal his true desire. Jason figures it out. Nico did not have a crush on Annabeth, he was jealous of Annabeth.
"I had a crush on Percy," Nico spat. "That's the truth. That's the big secret."Obviously, the love Cupid is talking about is eros, not philos or agape.
He glared at Cupid. "Happy now?"
For the first time, Cupid's gaze seemed sympathetic. "Oh, I wouldn't say Love always makes you happy." His voice sounded smaller, much more human. "Sometimes it makes you incredibly sad. But at least you've faced it now. That's the only way to conquer me."
Nico goes on to say, "I don't feel that way anymore."..."I mean...I gave up on Percy. I was young and impressionable, and I-I don't..."
Jason lets Nico know that, "If the others found out, you'd have that many more people to back you up, and to unleash the fury of the gods on anybody who gives you trouble."
Later, Jason says, "I've seen a lot of brave things. But what you just did? That was maybe the bravest." Keep in mind, that all throughout this book, demi-gods are risking their lives to save their friends. But Jason thinks admitting a crush is braver.
The rest of the book has Nico staying apart from the others, which is normal behavior for this child of the underworld. His former crush on Percy is not referred to again.
Near the end of the novel, another demi-god, Leo, son of Hephaestus, shares this philosophy,
"I figure the universe is basically like a machine. I don't know who made it, if it was the Fates, or the gods, or capital-G God, or whatever. But it chugs along the way it's supposed to most of the time. Sure, little pieces break and stuff goes haywire once in awhile, but mostly...things happen for a reason."So, yeah. That's in there too. A few anti-Christian slams, a wind-up clock theory of God and His creation, and a coming-out.
There you have it, a brief summary of the controversial pieces of Rick Riordan's The House of Hades.
On the one hand, there's a lot to disseminate here. On the other hand, it could have been much worse, which isn't saying much.
My kids aren't interested in this series or this book, so they won't be reading it. Personally, I think there's much better stuff out there, from a literature standpoint. From a moral standpoint, I could see mature upper middle-school students reading this, with parental discussion.
After all, the Church doesn't teach that it is immoral to be homosexual. The Church calls homosexuals, and all humans, to live chastely according to her rules. It would appear that Nico is in fact doing that, at least in this book.
Spare yourselves 583 pages of ADD induced chaos, and go read everything James Herriot ever wrote instead.