Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on June 14, 2005
Genres: Children's, Fantasy, Middle Grade
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Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
Funny story: I started reading this book, like an actual physical copy and couldn’t really get into it. It was during my reading slump this past summer, which was not a good time to start any books, unfortunately. Then I got the audio book from the library, and I loved it! Yes it’s a similar type of story and storytelling to the early Harry Potter books, so if you’re looking for something to fill that vast Hogwarts void inside of you, Percy Jackson isn’t a bad place to start.
First of all, Percy is an extremely likable main character. He’s young, makes dumb decisions, but he does so with conviction. He hates bad guys and wants good guys to triumph. He has compassion on those around him, and he doesn’t balk at challenges. He does a lot of this book on instinct. There’s very little planning, which makes everything more entertaining as he falls into ridiculous situations rather easily, and then we get to watch him figure his way out. At his side are the entertaining Satyr Grover, and the clever daughter of Athena, Annabeth (can anyone say Ron and Hermione?). Their friendship as a trio has a rocky start, but by the end, they’ve been through enough trials that nothing could break their bonds.
Everything is modernized, which is fun. Ares, the god of war, rides a motorcycle. Olympus hovers above the Empire State Building. Hermes owns a shipping company. At times it was a little too silly for my taste (but it’s MG so I just suspended my disbelief and moved along), but it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment.
Percy, much like young Harry Potter, is thrust into a world that he knows very little about, but seems to fit in rather well. Riordon really made it clear that Percy wasn’t succeeding in the normal world in the first chapter, so it was nice to see him move into a role that he could actually fulfill, and do it well. Camp Half Blood was a fun setting that I’m hoping we’ll see quite a bit more of in the rest of the series. There are plenty of Greek Mythology monsters to go around: the minotaur, naiads, oracles, and of course, the gods. I really love the tension between Poseidon and Percy, and I hope that father-son relationship is explored much more as we go along.
There’s lots of action as Percy, Grover, and Annabeth have to fight their way out of situations, since every creature, monster, being interested in the gods’ affairs is after Percy, and of course, being the children of gods helps them in their endeavors, since it gives Percy and Annabeth certain special abilities.
As far as narration goes, the narrator, Jesse Bernstein did a good job narrating the kids, but I thought his voice got really boring whenever he switched to adults. It wasn’t terrible by any means. I’ve just been listening to some thoroughly incredible narrators recently, so I have super high expectations.
There are so many things I’m hoping for from the rest of this series (PERCY AND ANNABETH. MAKE IT HAPPEN RIORDAN). I already love it and can’t wait to continue on.