Short version: I approve.

More words: My biggest worry was that this would be a recasting of the Percy Jackson books only with Egyptian gods instead of Greek ones – I love those (no, I didn’t see the movie) but y’know, the world already has that series. I think he’s carried it off, though; this new series is definitely its own thing. There are a lot of the same tropes in both, certainly. In both, kids are born to a destiny – I could do without that trope actually, because it’s been done to death, but it is less pronounced here than in Percy’s case. There are no prophecies; Carter and Sadie are born to power, but their task and their destiny are more due to choices consciously made by their parents than to any supernatural force. There is some of the same goofy humor, a plus in this sort of series – I especially like the part with the salsa. (No spoilers…) And there’s a nice nod to the other series – living in Brooklyn because “We don’t go into Manhattan much. There are other gods there.”

On the other hand, Carter and Sadie Kane have very much their own voices, very different both from each other and from Percy. The worldbuilding works differently; gods do not give birth to heroes, though they can possess some people, to varying degrees. The characters are more complex in this book than in the other series. There are hints of a more unmitigated evil to be faced in later books, but for now at least the good guys aren’t all totally trustworthy and the bad guys aren’t all bad. There are no demigods, because the Egyptians, as far as I know, didn’t have them (that not sleeping with humans thing again). There are creatures; where Percy had hippogryphs and hellhounds, Carter and Sadie have magically enhanced baboons, crocodiles, and cats. There are also some more minor gods who can have relationships with the kids, not just cameo appearances. The plot is pretty much nonstop, and finishes with a satisfying ending to the immediate challenge that lays the ground for a larger one to come. (I think it does a better job of this than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, actually, because I don’t remember that one leaving me wondering what would happen next. On the other hand, by the time I read that one, the next two books were out so there was no real need to wonder for long.)

Another nice thing about the book is that the Kanes are of mixed race, and they do deal with issues from that. I’m not crazy about the idea that Carter looks entirely black and Sadie looks entirely white – it can happen that way but usually doesn’t. But I’ll forgive Riordan that for the way both of them get pissed off at the funny looks when they tell people they’re siblings.

My other minor quibble – I can deal with “Kane” as the name of a family that’s been around since ancient Egypt. After all, that’s a homophone for “yes” in Hebrew, so it shouldn’t be an alien sound for languages in that region. But “Faust” for another family? Wrong mythos entirely, and if it’s going to be some sort of hint it’s a little heavy-handed and hasn’t materialized yet. But that’s a small thing.

I’m definitely looking forward to Book 2.