Percy Jackson and the Olympians

One of my friends suggested the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I was a little on the fence about reading these books since I saw bits of the movie and was just like “meh”. The books are, as usually, SOOOOO much better. Yeah, I got the first book, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief just before Christmas. I have now read all twelve of his Olympians books. I read one in less than a day. These are good books!

There are some similarities to Harry Potter, I have to say, but Riordan does a very good job of creating his very own world. People aren’t using magic through wands in this. They have magic artifacts. Percy himself has a ball point pen that turns into a sword called Riptide when uncapped. Why does a pen become a sword and vice versa? So humans won’t notice. There is something called the Mist that basically shows mortals what they want or need to see. I’ve seen this concept in other fantasy novels. Some call it a veil or disbelief. Douglas Adams called it the Someone Else’s Problem effect.

So we’re introduced to Percy Jackson when his class takes a school trip to a museum in New York City. Percy hates school trips because he invariably gets in trouble on trips. Trouble that is not really his fault. He doesn’t know it yet but he is a demigod, the child of a mortal and a god of (in this case) Olympus. Percy, like many other demigods, is considered a bit of a troublemaker, not to mention that he is both dyslexic and suffers from ADHD. Both of these are apparently a sign that he is a demigod. Supposedly their brains are hard wired to read Ancient Greek rather than English. Interesting premise.

At any rate, dear Percy, a youngster of only 12, does get in trouble on this trip. He doesn’t know it yet but his math teacher is apparently one of the Furies (referred to as the Kindly Ones so as not to gain unwanted attention) and she is after him in particular. Demigods attract monsters like the Furies like flowers attract bees. It is a fact of life. And this Fury thinks Percy has stolen something from her master (Hades) and wants it back. Trouble is, Percy is clueless as to what is going on. He has no idea who he is yet. All he knows is that he has now just killed his math teacher with a pen-sword.

Oh, and no one on the trip seems to remember the evil math teacher. No one except Percy, his best friend Grover and his wheelchair-bound Latin teacher. Only they aren’t admitting to anything. Percy is suspicious and tries to spring the math teacher in randomly during conversations to get them to break. It doesn’t work and Percy is sent home at the summer (never to return to that particular school).

We’re introduced to Percy’s sweet mom, Sally, who has married a deadbeat mortal man. We find out later that she did this to protect Percy. But right now, Percy is clueless about that and simply hates his step-dad. You’ll hate this guy too. Nasty man. Percy’s mom swiftly takes Percy from their little apartment to a vacation in Montauk, Long Island. This is apparently where Sally Jackson initially met Percy’s as-yet unnamed father.

In the middle of the night during the trip, friend Grover shows up which is weird because he wasn’t invited. He’s trying to save Percy because as it turns out, Grover is a satyr and his job is to protect Percy. Sally, who we find out is quite in the know about the Olympians, takes Grover at his word and the three of them speed off into the night heading for safety. They almost make it to safety at a place called Camp Half-Blood when the danger finds them.

The danger is the Minotaur. Yes, that Minotaur. Percy ends up ‘killing’ the Minotaur after the creature apparently kills his mother. And that is Percy’s introduction to life at Camp-Half Blood, the only safe place in the world for demigods. Demigods are sorted into houses by their godly parents (sound a bit familiar). If your godly parent doesn’t claim you, your shunted into Hermes’ cabin, which is rather like Hufflepuff (He’ll take the lot and treat them just the same). It takes a few days, but Percy is finally claimed during a bout of capture the flag (which involves real weapons and the very real possibility of serious injury). Percy is the son of Poseidon, one of the main three Olympian gods.

This leads to all sorts of problems for Percy. It gets him unwanted attention because children of the big three (Zeus, Poseidon and Hades) tend to be much more powerful than those of the other gods. And to top it all off, he finds that he almost immediately after getting claimed needs to run off on a very important quest which will almost certainly get him killed.

Zeus’s master lightning bolt, the prototype of his lightning weapon, as been stolen by person or persons unknown. Zeus blames Percy (and thereby Poseidon) because Percy happened to be in the Olympus area when the bolt was stolen. Oh, Olympus is on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. Percy lives in NYC.

Percy’s old Latin teacher, who turns out to be a centaur named Chiron, believes Hades has stolen the master bolt because of old jealousies. He sends Percy and two others, Annabeth Chase (Athena’s daughter) and the satyr Grover, to find the master bolt and get it back to Olympus by the summer solstice. He has ten days. But because Percy is the son of Poseidon and Zeus (god of the sky) is pissed at them, Percy and the others can’t fly. They have to make their way to the Underworld the overland way. And where is the Underworld if Olympus is in Manhattan? Well, that would be Los Angeles. 🙂 I laughed when I read that.

Twelve year olds Percy and Annabeth and satyr Grover fight their way across country, including fighting Ares himself. They get sidetracked in the Lotus Casino in Vegas. If this sounds familiar, think the Odyssey. In the end, Percy, Annabeth and Grover return triumphant to Olympus and smooth things over with the gods, though no one is sure who it was who originally stole the bolt. And as icing, it turns out the Sally Jackson wasn’t killed by the Minotaur! Hades took her just before that would have happened, for his own reasons.

Percy enjoys the rest of his summer camp, participating in the unusual games of Camp Half-Blood. At the very end of the summer (SPOILERS), Percy discovers that one of the other campers, Luke Castellan the son of Hermes, was the one behind the theft of the master bolt. He’s working for the ancient evil, the Titan Kronos. He attempts to kill Percy and ends up fleeing Camp Half-Blood as a traitor.

This book was really, really good. Rating: A. Go out and read these books. I’ve caught up on all of them and am hoping that he releases the next one before the currently scheduled release in October 2013.

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