All right. I will admit that I actually forgot that THE DEMIGOD FILES was coming out in February. I had added it to my wish list some time ago, and since I was in the bookstore today poking around, I was insanely happy and surprised to find it on the shelf. And of course I snatched it up. And then finished reading it a couple hours later. At first, reading the back, and then flipping through I thought that the book was going to contain stuff that I had already read from the previous PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS books, but I was even happier to discover that everything in the book was new: everything from maps, to "interviews" with the characters, to profiles of main characters, a sneak peek at the last PERCY JACKSON book: THE LAST OLYMPIAN, and the three wonderful short stories about Percy Jackson & Co. that really end up being the highlight of this offering from Rick Riordan.
The interviews are somewhat funny and have some interesting little tidbits -- and I'm sure Riordan had a blast working out the different questions to go along with each character interviewed: the Stoll Brothers, Annabeth, Percy, and a couple others. And the map was great to analyze to -- It was interesting to see where Riordan puts things versus the image in my own mind. Also of interest are the full color pages that have sparsely-detailed profiles of the main characters. They're nice looking -- but stuck oddly in the middle of the last of the three shorts, which I'll get to those in a second. There's also a crossword puzzle and a word search, containing facts and tidbits from the books. (The answers to both are just a couple of pages later, so don't feel too frustrated if you can't figure them out.)
The three short stories are the definite highlight of this volume, which definitely should be read after THE BATTLE FOR THE LABYRINTH. There are a few small references to events that have happened in all four books that would be missed by a casual reader trying to jump into the middle of the series. The stories include: "Percy Jackson and the Stolen Chariot," "Percy Jackson and the Bronze Dragon," and my favorite of the three: "Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades." The stories are brand new adventures in the life of Percy, and they definitely brought back wonderful memories of reading through the first four books. "Stolen Chariot" is the weakest of the three, an adventure with Percy and Clarisse going after a stolen chariot. The whole thing is exciting, but definitely not up to the par of the other two.
"Bronze Dragon" starts to get things really rolling -- centering on a story with Beckendorf from the Hephaestus cabin. This is where Riordan pulls out some more of what he does best: presenting small bits of mystery surrounded by action. He even throws in a clever twist near the end that definitely made me smirk. But as good as "Bronze Dragon" is, it doesn't hold a candle to the amazing short, "Sword of Hades." I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. It's the longest of the three, coming in around fifty pages, while the other two average about thirty each. And this story definitely starts to build on the overall story arch of the series, elements of which I'm sure will be included in the final Percy Jackson book. There are plenty of surprises and a few familiar faces that I was so excited to see again. And this one doesn't stop until the last second leaving some very interesting questions left to stew when it's done.
Finally, there's a short snippet from the final book, which really doesn't tell us anything except introduce another one of Riordan's signature moves: introduce a story or piece of information without giving us hardly any details, and then interrupting it suddenly with some plot event. But the little tidbit he does show us, makes me wonder what exactly he has up his sleeve for one of the characters... who never quite seemed what they appeared to be on the surface when first introduced.
Overall -- this is a great addition to the series for fans, and hopefully it might bring in some new readers. It's definitely worth picking up just for "Percy Jackson and the Sword of Hades," but the other selections make for fun reading too. (Definitely, this addendum will go down a lot better than Rowling's attempt at something similar with her TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD.)