Monday, September 27, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympians, by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan The Titan’s Curse, by Rick Riordan The Battle of the Labyrinth, by Rick Riordan The Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan

This series had been described to me as an American Harry Potter; as I thought that series was overblown and tedious I wasn’t excited about this one. I really like Riordan’s work, though, so when my son discovered Percy Jackson I read them too. What a great decision that turned out to be!

Percy Jackson is a dyslexic twelve year old that suddenly learns his father is Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. This discovery launches an adventure resulting in a battle for supremacy between the Titans and the Olympians in the middle of Manhattan. Along the way we encounter many classic myths alive and well in our current world, such as the Lotus Casino (a Las Vegas nirvana where time stands still), Aunty Em’s Garden Gnome Emporium (home to amazingly lifelike statues), the Minotaur’s labyrinth, centaurs, pegasi, cyclopes, and of course, Mount Olympus (now located above the Empire State Building). This tying of Greek mythology into modern culture is one of treats of this pentology, and Riordan does it well.

While this series is clearly aimed at young adults, I found it thoroughly entertaining. Several of the battles and gambits were resolved rather abruptly via deus ex machina; while this can disappointing in other novels, considering the subject matter here it seemed quite appropriate. The main characters are simple—again suitable for younger readers—but not one-dimensional; the secondary characters aren’t as fully developed, but occasionally find themselves in a key role making them less predictable. Overall, this is a five book odyssey that takes the reader through a fun-filled romp. I enjoyed it, my son enjoyed it, and more importantly, we got to talk about it together.

First Sentence from The Lightning Thief:
Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.
First Sentence from The Sea of Monsters:
My nightmare started like this.
First Sentence from The Titan’s Curse:
The Friday before winter break, my mom packed me an overnight bag and a few deadly weapons and took me to a new boarding school.
First Sentence from The Battle of the Labyrinth:
The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school.
First Sentence from The Last Olympian:
The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car.

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