It appears that the entire universe has read The Percy Jackson series and I’m just one of the specks probably thriving in the Jurassic Period who haven’t yet. So here I am shamefaced, confessing I’ve jumped on the Greek Mythology bandwagon just a few weeks ago. It seems like everyone had their fair share of thoughts about this book already and everything’s been said so why am I still bothering to make a review? Simple. It’s because I liked it. No. LOVED IT!
AUTHOR: Rick Riordan
PUBLISHER: Miramax Books
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2005
NUMBER OF PAGES: 377
RATING: 4 out 5
SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads): Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends — one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena — Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
To some who knew, I’m a history/ mythology junkie. Clearly, this is among the most popular contemporary mythology-inspired book of this age so why it took me so long to read it, I actually don’t know. I like to describe the accuracy of Rick Riordan’s Greek references as something not Wikipedia-ed, not done overnight. He so tactfully cooked the theme combining a cutting edge drama and mythology so well the outcome is undoubtedly appetizing. It’s witty, comical, and slightly (or largely) irreverent. If they were real, Rick Riordan would have probably been struck by Zeus’s lightning bolt by now.
What about the plot? It’s dynamic. So incredibly dynamic. If you’re the kind of reader who finds long explanation of thoughts (If I Stay, anyone?) so unbearably tedious like me, then this book is for you. So much has happened in such short number of pages that the environmentalist in me applauds the author for not wasting precious forest trees on dreary stories. The transition of the plot from Percy’s “mundane life” (yup, I’m coining from TMI and TID) to being a hero who witnessed firsthand that the characters in his Greek Mythology book are springing to life was smoothly and intelligently crafted. Despite the overall fantasy mist which is blatantly hardly correlated to real life, there were lots of point when a reader simply can’t help but relate and sympathize with Percy. Whoever didn’t have a Nancy Bobofit or Clarisse La Rue in their student life must have found it extremely difficult to confront the even scarier Furies outside the confines of school.
To be honest, I was a bit skeptical to pick it up at first thinking the plot’s too juvenile. But I guess, when you’re in a kick for some fiction dedicated to your age a decade ago, you’re never too old. The creatures – Minotaur, Centaur, Satyr, Cerberus, Medusa, etc. – were all too creatively described as though the author lived to see them in flesh. For an 8th grader who finds it a struggle to learn Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, this is probably a good alternative. It’s interesting, accurate, and most importantly, cussing-proofed.
If we’re on to some hard core truthfulness here, I’ll admit what pulled me into reading is the character who played Percy in the movies. The fil wasn’t good, yup, but don’t judge a book by its movie, right? Logan Lerman’s been my crush ever since The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Even my grandma would probably find it impossible not to melt with these prepossessing eyes and his boy-next-door features.
While reading, I couldn’t help compare it with the archetype of all fantasy books, Harry Potter, which kept me from being generous of my five stars. Some key elements were recycled. I’m sure I’m not the first to narrow their eyes be cynical about its originality. Allow me to lay them out.
- Ugliano is the Dursleys who both gave our protagonists the protection they needed when they’re out of their schools
- Speaking of schools, Camp Half Blood is literally Hogwarts. There’s Catch the Flag which reminds me so much about Quidditch. The cabins totally equate to the houses of Hogwarts.
- Oh and don’t get me started on the brainy Anabelle, sidekick of Percy. Please, that’s Hermione Granger!
I also felt this way reading the first books of The Mortal Instrument. Oh well, every faithful Potterhead will absolutely feel this way but there’s no harm in giving others the chance, eh? After all, there were refreshing events and some surprises in every corner that’s not very HP-ish.
So overall, this book is an amazing read which is totally recommendable for all age groups. Yes, even you grandma! I would undoubtedly jump on the next book soon after hitting “PUBLISH” here so if you guys would excuse me, I have a Pop Greek Myth series to study.