Monday, May 1, 2017

Retrospective: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Having read several books based in Greek mythology that have failed dismally (and my own recent experience with an abhorrent film called Immortals) I decided it was time to sit down and appreciate the one book series that, in my opinion, has not only done it right, but done it best.

The Percy Jackson series centers around it's title character, a young boy living in New York. He soon discovers that he is a demigod, the son of one of the ancient Olympians of the Greek pantheon. He is taken to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp in which demigods are trained to hone their skills, play capture the flag, compete in chariot races, and hopefully get called onto quests to battle monsters and prove themselves. Y'know, very typical camp stuff. But as the son of one of the Big Three, Percy gets wrapped up in a dangerous plot to awaken the ancient Titans, longstanding enemies of the gods, and a prophecy that marks him as the one to stop the apocalypse or bring it about.

The first thing about this series is that the main character is very unique in how flawed he is. In this world, demigods are commonly plagued with ADHD and dyslexia, of which our protagonist has both. Allegedly, Riordan's own child has these learning disabilities and Riordan set out to create a character who also has them and make that character capable of anything. In this, he succeeds. Percy Jackson is an extremely likable character, funny, determined, and loyal. He doesn't let his disabilities get in his way at all but works with and around them in order to get the job done. He's also very sarcastic and witty, adding to the overall humor of the story in general and it gets pretty friggin' hilarious.

One of the best things about the books, however, has to be the representation of the Greek pantheon. Tons of people have tried to write what the Olympians would be like in the modern times, but this one feels the closest and most realistic representation. Hermes as the inventor of the internet, Poseidon in Hawaiian shirts, Artemis running a boy-free Hunt of immortal girls, everyone feels both well represented and yet modernized at the same time. While they also have their share of funny moments, there's still a commanding presents that demands respect to them all. It's like, "I'm being nice here kid, but you do know that I can vaporize you if I wanted to." Nobody else has ever really done this and has either had them as toga wearing relics or dirty, earth-bound shells of who they once were. There's balance in these representations that you don't really see anywhere else and it's just fantastically done.

Probably one of the biggest flaws that people have with this series is that it's a little too similar to the Harry Potter books and...yeah, they're kinda right. The fact that the two title characters have very similar descriptions and that you can pretty much find a Harry Potter parallel character for every Percy Jackson character (I've done it). However, I find it comparing an apple and an orange, both fruit but different kinds of the same thing. Where Harry Potter is more subtle and intricate, Percy Jackson is fun and more colorful. It's simpler and fans of one can definitely get into the other. It never really bothered me.

It also created the spin off/sequel series, Heroes of Olympus, which is definitely a topic of conversation for another day. (Hint: they're awesome).

Have you read the books? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts. Have a book you want me to review or would like to recommend a book you'd like to see here? Contact me on goodreads at

Next time: Hell hath no fury like a genetically advanced super parent....

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