Monday, October 11, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I’ve been saying for weeks that my review of Red Pyramid was coming, but since Lost Hero is coming out tomorrow I decided instead of doing just one Rick Riordan review, why not do three?  And where better to start than with the Percy Jackson series. Oh, and while you are here, don't forget to check out my Halloween giveaway, ending 10/17/10, for your chance to win a signed copy of Kelley Armstrong's The Summoning and an ARC of Clare B. Dunkle's House of Dead Maids

As with my review of The Guardian’s of Ga’Hoole, I don’t want to give too much of earlier plots away, so I’m going to keep the book descriptions short.

Twelve year old Percy seems to be followed by trouble; he’s been kicked out of every school he’s ever been to after only one year.  This school year is worse than normal though and after a series of unnatural events he ends up at camp half-blood.  There, he discovers that his absentee father is the god, Poseidon, and his uncle Zeus is none too happy about it.  Percy and his friends Grover and Annabeth find themselves on a quest from New York to LA to see Hades and find Zeus’s missing lightening bolt before Zeus declares war. 

After another year at a new school Percy can’t wait to get back to Camp-Half blood, but as summer approaches things take a turn for the worse.  Once he gets to camp, with a Cyclops in tow, he finds that the camp is in danger and his friend Grover is missing.  Percy and his friends embark on another quest, this one to save Grover and recover the Golden Fleece in an attempt to save camp.

During an attempt to bring two newly discovered half-bloods to camp, Percy’s friend Annabeth disappears, and once at camp they discover that the goddess, Artemis, is also missing.  When Percy is not included in the search party to find her, he tags along anyone, and they find themselves on a journey around the United States trying to find them and discovering the reason that they were kidnapped to begin with.

When Percy has to hide out at Camp Half-blood a little earlier than intended due to another unfortunate incident at his new school, it is quickly discovered that an entrance to the legendary Labyrinth has been found in the camp, and their enemies can use it to bypass the camps security and attack.  Percy, Grover, Annabeth and Tyson must journey into the Labyrinth to find Daedalus in the hopes that he can help them thwart their enemies in using the Labyrinth against them. 

In this final installment of Percy Jackson’s story we finally find what the phrophecy involving Percy said in full, and every thing leads up to the great battle against those who have been out to get Percy through and the half-bloods throughout. 

Now the Review:
The Characters
Percy is a likeable guy.  Sure he can be a bit rash at times, and doesn’t always make the choices a responsible person would, but he does what he thinks is best.  And he’s loyal, almost to a fault.  I think he makes a great role model, because he’s real, he has faults, and makes mistakes, which makes him more relatable to readers.

Annabeth is the brains, which makes sense because she is the daughter of Athena.  She’s also tough.  At first she’s a bit harsh towards Percy, but they become good friends quickly.  I love the romantic tension that appears between her and Percy as the story progresses.  Annabeth is one of those intelligent characters that’s done right.  Even though she’s smarter than her friends, you never grow to hate her for it.

Grover is Percy’s best friend.  He’s also the one who’s supposed to look out for Percy, though in truth Percy spent more time looking out for him.  He’s a loveable character.  He’s got one dream, to find Pan, as being friends with Percy gives him the courage and the strength of character needed to go forward with his dream and not give up.

Tyson starts out being really annoying, but as you learn more about him, and get exposed to him more you really start to like him.  You really don’t want anything bad to happen to him.  He’s like a giant little kid.

This was a great introduction to the series.  Riordan did a wonderful job explaining how Greek mythology mixed with our world.  He was able to explain the camp and the half-bloods without making it seem as though he was lecturing at you.  There was a lot of interesting stops along their quest, that pulled in various myths beautifully; if you were familiar with the myth you’d recognize it, but if you didn’t recognize it he’d explain it briefly.  The best part is that you couldn’t always predict the twists and turns the main plot was going to take.  They gave you hints along the way, but it all came together in a way that I didn’t completely predict.

This quest took Percy on one part of Greek mythology that people might be most familiar with, Odysseus, but it was the stops along the way that made it great.  I loved Annabeth’s explanation for chain restaurants.  What’s great though is that while this quest isn’t completely tied to the main plot, it got pulled in enough to progress the series forward. 

This book introduced a lot of new characters, which was probably a great thing, that way it throws new twists into the quest formula of the series.  While they are still on a quest it’s also a lot about how Percy deals with these new people in his life.

I was fascinated by how they were able to bring the Labyrinth to America, and journeying through the Labyrinth was fascinating.  It could have been a really boring story, with them spending most of their time in a giant maze, but instead you really never knew what was going to be around the next corner. 

I loved how they built up to the final fight here.  Also, I was surprised by who the Last Olympian actually turned out to be, I wasn’t expecting that at all.  The best part of this book though, is that you never know until the very end who’s going to join the battle.

General Stuff: 
Overall I really try to encourage everyone that I know to read this series.  I think it’s a great introduction to Greek mythology because its presented in an easy way; its tied in with modern characters, but you still get the history without feeling like you are being lectured, and that really is a hard thing to do.  Plus these are a really quick read.  I finished all 5 books in under 5 days (and that was working full time too).  While each book is a quest, they are so different from each other that they aren’t boring.  There are so many stops along each quest that they don’t give you time to get bored either.  If you enjoy fantasy or mythology at all, do yourself a favor and read these books.

The Movie
As a small aside, I advice people to avoid the movie.  It’s a giant waste of time.  They disregarded the plot of the book and the series and made up their own story.  I heard that they are making the second book into a movie, but they went so far off of book one that I have no idea how they’ll do it.  I’m being good here, because this movie is one of those things that I have a tendency to rant about, I was so vastly unhappy about it. (I give it a 1 out of 5 reluctantly since I did manage to sit through the whole thing).

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