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Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series Review

Every holiday I re-read the Percy Jackson series, so I thought I’d do a massive review of Rick Riordans greek myth inspired saga.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

377 pages, paperback. First published 2006. The Goodreads summary follows

‘Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves’

I love this book. It is an amazing, inspired idea – A camp for half-bloods (sons and daughters of Greek Gods) and a whole host of monsters and baddies that want to send them to the depths of the underworld. I think though, the bit that really is great about the Percy Jackson world is how seamlessly Riordan blends the modern and the ancient – The camp leader, Dionysus is constantly drinking diet coke, and the entrance to Hades is in LA –  I think that this makes the story and worldbuilding so believable and plausible.

Percy himself is a great character. I feel the first person narrative is great – you get to know him really well, almost as a friend. He’s funny and kind, although he doesn’t always get things right. He isn’t a perfect character – he get’s kicked out of school and has dylexia and ADHD, little does he know that these are signs of his godly dad. I think, if I had to pick one favourite bit out of the Lightening Thief, it would be this. There are thousands of kids with dylexia and ADHD (my sister being one of them) who have such low self esteem and a character that is a hero could really help booster their confidence. Percy is joined by Annabeth, daughter of Athena, a clever, logical, loyal friend who is a great role model for young girls and Grover, a satyr and Percy’s best friend. Chiron, a wise and kind teacher in a wheelchair cum activities director and centaur guides Percy to his quest.

The Quest. There had to be a quest in a book about Greek Mythology and this one is a cracker. At the end of WW2, the three big Gods (Posidon, Zeus and Hades) all promised not to have any more children. This didn’t last long. So when Zeus’s famous lightning bolt goes missing, Percy (the son of Posiden) is the main suspect. To stop another war Percy much find the bolt. Of course this leads to a tonne of adventures, mishaps and bravery and a unpleasant encounter with Ares, God of War.

There had being a tonne of comparisons between the Lightning Thief and the first Harry Potter novel. This was bound to happen regardless, any middle grade novel that involves fantasy will probably be compared to HP. Their are similarites – Percy, Grover and Annabeth can be compared to Harry, Ron and Hermione and Camp Half-Blood to Hogwarts. Theres a prophecy about Percy, as there was about Harry and Chiron and Dumbledore are similar characters. That being said Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is not a Harry Potter rip off. The idea itself is diamond, and the writing and tone of the novel bears no relation to Philosophers Stone.

The Lightning Thief is probably my favourite Percy Jackson novel. The writing, characterisation and plot is great and I recommend it to kids and adults alike!

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

279 pages, Hardcover. Published 2006

‘After a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson is finding his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson, a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any normal friends. But things don’t stay quiet for long.

Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: the magical borders that protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters, the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millennia. Only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name: The Bermuda Triangle.

Together with his friends, Percy must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family, one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon’s son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.’

The Sea of Monsters/Bermuda Triangle is another example of Rick Riordans amazing modern/ancient greek worldbuilding. This time Percy must rescue camp again – stealing the Golden Fleece so that the camp’s magical boundaries will become strong again.

We are introduced to Tyson, a slightly dopey but instantly lovable boy who Percy mysteriously cannot bring himself to look in the eye. Tyson is homeless at the beginning of the novel, and again I love the Riordan isn’t just writing for people who enjoy reading, he’s writing for those who struggle (dyslexia and ADHD) and those who often don’t have the means too. He also isn’t sugarcoating anything. Usually in middle grade books there is no mention of issues like homelessness – it isn’t pretty. Riordan doesn’t shy away from these issues and I think that’s why he is so sucessful as a writer – he is honest.

Like the Lightning Thief, the Sea of Monster’s is heartwarming, funny, action packed and packed full of Greek Mythology.

Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse

304 pages, Paperback. Published 2007

‘When the goddess Artemis goes missing, she is believed to have been kidnapped. And now it’s up to Percy and his friends to find out what happened. Who is powerful enough to kidnap a goddess?  They must find Artemis before the winter solstice, when her influence on the Olympian Council could swing an important vote on the war with the titans. Not only that, but first Percy will have to solve the mystery of a rare monster that Artemis was hunting when she disappeared—a monster rumored to be so powerful it could destroy Olympus forever’

In the third book of the series Percy is dealing with the sudden reappearence of Thalia, daughter of Zeus and maybe not being the one the prophecy mentions. He is also beginning to realise that he may have some feelings for Annabeth. All this coupled with a new quest that could win or lose the war against the titans, he has a lot on his plate.

I really like this book. I loved the first, and had strong feelings for the second but in this one the plot of quest, rescue something/someone is beginning to feel a bit stale. Having said the fast paced adventure is still as well written as ever, and I think that kids in the age range that Percy Jackson was written for would’nt bat an eyelight. It’s the same kind of problem I had with A series of Unfortunate Events – I loved the books but the plot never really changed.

However, Riordan does raise the stakes considerably. Up until this point no major characters (or ‘good’ characters) have being hurt or killed and this changes in Titans Curse. Although I dread character deaths, this was good for character and plot development.

If you love the series so far, you’ll love this book to! Just don’t expect a massive plot difference from the first two.

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth

361 pages, Hardcover. Published 2008

‘When demonic cheerleaders invade his high school, Percy Jackson hurries to Camp Half Blood, from whence he and his demigod friends set out on a quest through the Labyrinth, while the war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near.’

The Battle of the Labyrinth is where the saga really picks up again for me. The addition of the Labyrinth makes the plot seem fresh again, and the mystery of Daedalus and whether he still might be alive is intriguing and exciting. Of course the added threat of Luke/Kronos and the prospect of war is still hanging over Percy’s head and the Labyrinth helps to set up for the fifth and final book in the series.

The plot seems more complex in this novel and even writing in first person Riordan manages to convey the other characters sub-plots and feelings. I also began to really appreciate Riordan’s writing skills – I think a lot of people almost right off writers if they write in first person – they think it’s easier and more simple but I have to disagree. The detailed, yet no boring descriptions that Rick, as Percy gave were beautifully written and I feel that as a reader, I know Percy better because of the way the books are written.

The fourth book in the series is as jam packed with adventure as the others, and builds up the tension in time for the fifth and final novel.

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian

381 pages. Published 2009

‘All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows.

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate’

I think I know when you love a series that you are dreading reading the last book. But I have to say, The Last Olympian is a satisfying end to the series and all loose ends are tied up.

Percy has grown so much from the first book, where he was unsure of his abilities, and in the last book he almost transforms into a confident leader. There is a slight love triangle between him, Annabeth and Rachel (A mortal girl he met in the previous book who can see through the mist) but I think everyone knows where Percy’s true affection lies.

I also loved the fact that Luke was potrayed as more multi dimensional – he wasn’t all bad and Percy learns what happened to him in his childhood that has made him that way.

The battle at the end of it is climatic and we are kept on our toes with the action and the injuries and deaths of both sides. Although, as I said earlier, I hate character deaths but I feel in order to show how much danger the demigods were in, there needed to be deaths.

All of Percy’s friends past and present join in on the final climatic battle in the centre of New York and Percy has to face some tough decisions if he is to defeat his nemisis, Kronos and help restore the Gods to power.

The Last Olympian was a great ending to a exciting and well written series that I know I will be reading again and again. The series is so easy to get in to and read and the characters are such a joy to read, especially Percy who is brave and loyal to his friends. I can’t recommend this series enough t everyone who loves greek mythology and fantasy, and its a great series to read for kids who don’t like reading – after reading this they will! Of Course, in true Rick Riordan fashion the series ended on a slight cliffhanger, with a new prophecy that leads on to the next series by Rick Riordan, The Hero’s of Olympus.

I will hopefully have a review up for Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy tommorow!

Laura 🙂

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