So since Tuesday I have been alternating between reading The Lightning Thief to my brother and The House of Hades to myself. It's made me realize how far Percy and Annabeth have come and the development of their characters. Percy goes from this naive little kid who doesn't believe in monsters to this broken sixteen-year-old who barely bats an eye when it comes to killing one of them. And then their's Annabeth who is so totally enraptured with Percy in TLT though she would never admit it. But by HoH she is openly showing her feelings and holding Percy's hand and comforting him. And Percy's returning the affection.
Rachel Dare has come far as well. She's no longer the fourteen-year-old girl with the silly crush on Percy. She is now the Oracle of Delphi, frightening, yet lovable and human. (Although she still has her blue plastic hairbrush.)
Nico is definitely not the same person he was before. He's no longer the geeky tag-a-long with a love of Mythomagic. He admits that he never was in love with Annabeth and instead had always loved Percy. In admitting that he made himself stronger and secured a place on the team.
You don't see Grover that much in this book, but in the short amount of time he is there you can tell he's different. He's not the satyr who couldn't fit in anymore. He is now head of the council and he has friends who care about him.
Even the newer characters have changed in the last four books. Jason is no longer this untouchable guy. He's more down to earth (no pun intended) and his leadership qualities have improved. Piper isn't the Damsel in Distress anymore. She can take care of herself.
Hazel has finally seen her true potential and her part in the quest. She's accepted that she is the daughter of Pluto and all it entails. Frank isn't the cuddly bear of a guy he was in SoP. He's completely learned to use his gifts and has grown up.
Even Leo is different. He still cracks bad jokes and lightens the mood, but he no longer thinks of himself as the dreaded 'seventh wheel'. And he's found love.
This strong character development is what has secured Rick Riordan on the list of beloved authors for years to come. It is what has kept readers, children and adults alike, coming back for more. And it's what helps Percy and the gang survive their many adventures.