Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review- Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I got the Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief DVD on Netflix today for my sister to watch and while watching it, I kept thinking how badly Chris Columbus raped the source material. This series could have potentially become something huge and 20th Century Fox ruined their chance. Why did they think it would be a good idea to bring the director of the first two Harry Potter films (which were the worst) to helm it and market is as another Harry Potter. Anything that calls itself the next Harry Potter will undoubtedly fail. Nothing is the next Harry Potter except Harry Potter!! Percy Jackson needed its own identity for people to love it. With the release of the Percy Jackson teaser, which featured Mt. Olympus looking a lot like Hogwarts and text displaying "From the director of Harry Potter," HP fans immediately screamed rip off! Well I guess Chris Columbus did what he was good at and made a shit film. So eager for this film to succeed, it became something that was extremely safe and mindlessly entertaining but easily forgetful. Anything meaningful in the novel were scrapped away and only action scenes from the novel were kept, then a bunch of random shit was thrown in between. Anyways I'm ranting about the movie where I should be reviewing the book. Please don't judge the book by the film. The two are very different. Here's my review of the book/series.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is the first in a five part fantasy series by Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson is a 12-year old boy living in New York and has ADHD and dyslexia. While attending a school field trip, he gets attacked by a teacher who is actually a disguised fury. From then, it all goes to hell for Percy. He is rushed out of Manhattan by his friend Grover who is actually his assigned Satyr protector, in charge of getting him to a safe haven called Camp Half Blood. Grover found Percy at his school suspecting him to be a demi-god. All demi-god children must be taken to Camp Half Blood because once demi-gods are discovered, they become targets for all sorts of monsters. Camp Half Blood is protected from allowing in monsters and the only place a demi-god can be safe. While Percy, Grover and Percy's mother are making a getaway to the camp, they get attacked by a Minotaur and Percy's mom doesn't make it. Soon after arriving at Camp Half Blood, Poseidon claims Percy as his son. The "Big Three" gods, Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades are forbidden to have children due to a prophecy made long ago. With the revelation of Percy being Poseidon's son, Zeus suspects Percy was the one to has his master bolt which recently stolen from him. So war is about to start between Zeus and Poseidon and Percy is given ten days to bring the bolt back to Zeus at Mount Olympus during the summer solstice. Percy, Grover, and their new friend Annabeth all travel across the country and encounter various ancient Greek monsters to get to the Underworld where they suspect Hades must have the Master Bolt (with Percy secretly wanting to go only to get his mother back).

The series continues onto The Sea of Monsters, followed by The Titan's Curse, Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian. Each book brings more ancient Greek stories and lore into the picture with various characters and creatures from ancient myth. Any reader will definitely get an insight on the stories of various Greek god and goddesses. I understand this series has actually become a required reading for many elementary school grade levels to help them with their ancient Greek history. Rick Riordan does a fantastic job stringing together various myths and turning it into something exciting to read. The first two books are short, fun, entertaining novels; however, when we start getting into the third, fourth, and fifth, they take a step forward and turn into something grittier and more gripping. There is a much greater sense of danger for our young demi-gods as the series progresses and matures. Percy, Annabeth and Grover seemed to be untouchable by the mythical monsters when the series begins, but eventually, going into the third novel, we begin losing many of our young characters (I won't say who!).

The story is definitely a good one in the series, but it still lacks something that would have made it a great series. First off, each book is pretty short; my bff read the first four novels in a day after I recommended them to her. When a book is this short, its hard to develop complex characters. To be honest, I didn't really like ANY of the characters! None of them were very likeable and were kind of a one-note. For a book to be great, the characters must be great too! They weren't unlikeable, they just don't stand out. When I ask people who have read the series who their favorite characters is, it's hard to them to give me an answer. But on the books defense, it's not a complicated novel to begin with. It is definitely geared towards children especially young boys. Young boys can easily relate to Percy's character. The writing style is lazy. The biggest word you will probably come across is "Medusa." There's nothing lyrical or beautifully written. But again, its a book for young boys!

So yeah, great story but nothing too complicated. It's a fun ride when your reading it and it's incredibly addicting. It's imaginative and exciting with nonstop twists and turns. Definitely a book for young folks! If you got a kid who struggles in school, this may be a good book for them because it provides some what of a confidence booster in the story line. If you're looking for the next Harry Potter, I can't say this is it because it won't give you the emotional depth and heart; however, if you looking for something to ease your Post-Potter Syndrome, this can give it to you temporarily. The basic premise is similar to Harry Potter's but the story is still very different. The picture on the right is from the film...I put it there because I thought the actor was cute. There is no reason to see the film unless you want to goggle at him.

Recommended- Final Score 8/10

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