I’ve always been super interested in Greek mythology. I can name the Twelve Olympians off the top of my head at the drop of a hat. If you’ve read my book review for ‘The Dark Wife’ by Sarah Diemer, you know I love these kinds of books. I think that reading the Percy Jackson series was just fuel to the fire that was already there.
The Percy Jackson series is split into five books, if you’re looking at the main series, that is, and ignoring the five book spin-off that it inspired. For the record, I am not ignoring the spin-off. I just haven’t read it yet.
The main five books are amazingly good, considering they fall under the mantle of Young Adult Fantasy Fiction. I met Rick Riordan when I was around twelve years old, when he came to our school to talk to us about his books and Greek mythology. I got the first two books in the series signed by him, and am quick to tell every person who borrows the books from me that they are VALUABLE, damn it.
The story revolves around Percy Jackson, an unassuming twelve year old (who ages a year with each novel) who’s bad at school, and is always getting himself expelled because trouble just seems to run after him. It isn’t until a museum field trip in Manhattan that Percy has to fight his first mythical monster – one of the Furies. In that moment, all is revealed: Percy is actually the son of Poseidon, the actual, honest to god Greek deity, and he shouldn’t exist due to a promise made by Poseidon after World War II to never have children. But the fact that he does means that he has to make his way to Camp Half Blood, where he should be safe for the rest of the school year and summer from being attacked by any kind of monsters again, and be among more children like him – half-bloods.
Each book in the five-book series introduces a new challenge for Percy, culminating in the final book – The Last Olympian – in a giant fight between Olympians and Titans, who seek to take the world for themselves again as they feel they’ve been wronged by the Olympains who usurped them and took their place. The main villain of the over-arching story is, of course, Kronos, who tries to kill Percy at every turn, after a prophecy that foretold that a child of The Big Three – Hades, Poseidon and Zeus – would one day either save Olympus, or destroy it.
This entire series actually revolves around prophecies. One of the characters is The Oracle of Delphi, a mummified woman who sits in the attic in the Clubhouse at Camp Half Blood and dispenses prophecies to people in the form of riddles. Each prophecy comes true by the end of the book, and always come true with a twist you wouldn’t expect. Other characters include Annabeth, the daughter of Athena and Percy’s mentor-turned-best friend; Grover, a satyr who’s on a quest to find the missing God of Nature, Pan; Chiron, Percy’s mentor and the mentor of all Heroes before him; and so many more characters. That, of course, doesn’t include the Greek Gods themselves, who frequently come down to Earth to check in on their offspring, as well as stir some of their own trouble. Riordan does a wonderful job of making the Gods very human and believable. After all, the Greeks modeled their own Gods after themselves – horny drunk assholes who just wanted to have some fun sometimes, and this version of the Gods are exactly that too.
So, why should you read these books? Simple. The story telling is superb. Riordan tells the story completely through Percy’s eyes, who is one of the funniest, most sarcastic, most sympathetic main characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. He’s a brilliant character with flaws, worries and thoughts that are well shaped out without making him seem like too much of the hero. The story is also not completely predictable. Riordan knows how to write a good twist, and how to make the story interesting enough that you want to continue reading them. I’ve lent these books to a colleague of mine, who’s actually read all of them and enjoyed them so much, she’s doing her own part in introducing them to other people. This book is perfect for anyone looking for a good fantasy series, and also has the extra bonus of being super informative about the Greek Gods. Whether you love Greek mythology a lot, or are just mildly interested, this book is definitely for you.
Final rating: 7/5. While it is marketed for teenagers and young readers, most everyone will love reading these books if they have a soft spot for fantasy and witty one-liners.
Buy the full set here!