Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thoughts on the Percy Jackson Series

Over the course of the last five weeks, I have read the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. With the exception of #2, I have read each book twice, not only to make sure that I didn't miss anything, but to extend my reading pleasure. Before I continue, I want to mention that this post contains no plot spoilers. I chose not to review each book as I read it because I would have had to give away parts of the plots. So, this post contains my thoughts about the series as a whole in a general sense.

Click here to read my two posts about the first Percy Jackson book. I am not going to explain the premise in this post, so you will need to read those posts if you are not already familiar with this series.

This series is similar to Harry Potter, yet at the same time, it is very different. Many narrow-minded people who are Harry Potter fanatics think this series is a rip-off of Harry Potter. Nothing could be further from the truth. The series has some obvious similarities to Harry Potter, but at the same time, the books are very different.

The books were written in first person, and the author, Rick Riordan, pulled it off well. Percy comes across as a likable, awkward, modern teenage boy. The grammar is not perfect, but I doubt that any of us think in a grammatically correct fashion. With that in mind, the books would be far less convincing if they were grammatically correct, especially since they are told from the point of view of a boy with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The books are very humorous, and Percy's dyslexia plays into it. For instance, Percy begins to read aloud a prophecy about a child "of the eldest dogs" and is quickly informed that the words are "of the eldest gods." I love it when books make me laugh. Humor is important.

Each book tells the story of one year of Percy's life, usually just the summer months when most of the important events occur. In each book, either Percy or another one of the half-blood children is sent on a quest. Even when the quest is not Percy's, he somehow gets involved.

All of the books contain battles with monsters and gods. Percy and his friends are in deadly danger during these events, and the reader does fear for their safety. It is important that the reader cares about the characters. I cannot help but contrast the Percy Jackson series with the Twilight Saga, which I read just before I began Percy Jackson. While reading the Twilight Saga, I never, ever cared about Edward, which is sad.

In the Twilight Saga, I felt like I was going to be disappointed the entire time I read books 2 through 4. I knew where the author was taking the books, and I did not like it. As expected, I did not enjoy how the fourth book ended. One of the biggest complaints people have had about the Twilight Saga is that Bella got exactly what she wanted and never paid for it. She never lost anything. She never had a price to pay.

Much like Harry Potter, I knew that the Percy Jackson series would culminate with a final battle. I expected losses to occur, just like in the Harry Potter books and unlike the Twilight Saga. It was very convincing.

Rick Riordan gives us clues to Percy's future as we read through the books. By book three, we are given some very intriguing clues that we do not quite understand. A lot of the fun is guessing what the clues mean and wondering how it will end. By the last page of the last book, Riordan has explained it all to us.

Overall, I feel like the Percy Jackson books are a masterpiece. The storytelling is excellent. The Harry Potter books (and the Twilight Saga books, unfortunately) are excessively wordy at times. The fifth Harry Potter book drags. I love the Harry Potter books, but parts of them are boring and too long.

The Percy Jackson books are not excessively wordy and never drag. Each book was plotted tightly to cover the events of a single quest. In fact, I wish the books told us even more. The difference between a good book and a really great book is that a really great book leaves you wanting even more.

The ending of the last book is very satisfying. I am one of those people who found the epilogue of the last Harry Potter book to be very annoying. Rowling messed up by not letting us see what happened in the weeks following the final battle. Thank goodness, rather I should say thank the gods, that Rick Riordan did not make that mistake.

I have nothing bad to say about this series. It is just great and a lot of fun. I recommend this series to anybody who likes series books that are full of adventure and fantasy.


Jack C said...

So glad you have enjoyed the series... You have passed me on the reading of this one. I've only read the first two. I have SOO much to read. I'm trying to read many of the Nancys at the moment, and there are other books as well. Compound that with reading for my latest class (DRY textbook stuff), and there just is not enough time in the day, even in a snowstorm!
REady for another great series recommendation? Try "The Alchemyst" series by Michael Scott. Three books have come out so far, and Scott brilliantly weaves real historic figures into a classic fantasy "Good vs. Evil" story with modern teenagers as the protagonist. Nicholas Flamel, mentioned in the first Harry Potter book is a major character!
A fourth book, "The Necromancer" arives in stores May 10th, and I believe this will be another seven book series if I remember correctly!

stratomiker said...

I started reading Percy #1 again and I'm really enjoying it, even though I really am not a fan of all this paranormal stuff. I still crave normal teen sleuth series and have found a few good recent ones, mostly foreign. I guess they just are not acceptable here in this country any longer.

I got a Brit edition paperback of #2, so I guess I'll read through the series. I definitely want to see the movie, which starts showing soon. I've seen the previews several times, and it looks great. (I keep going to see Avatar. Like you said, if something is good, you want MORE.) Percy's movie is getting a big push being shown before Avatar showings!

Rick Riordan is an award winning author of adult mysteries about a Texas detective. These books are excellent, and I failed to make the connection until I saw a Percy book accidentaly filed on the adult shelf at the book store.


Jennifer White said...

The Percy Jackson film opens this weekend. I have been seeing a lot of commercials on television.

I will definitely check into the Alchemyst series. I just did some preliminary checking by going to Amazon and reading the promotional information for the first book. It sounds like I might be interested in the books. Thanks for mentioning them.