Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book Review - Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I've been snowed in since Friday the 5th as the east coast around DC is pummeled with wind and snow. Friday - Saturday we got about 30 inches of snow and today we got another foot. Work is closed tomorrow as well so I'm starting to go crazy after a week inside the house! I've decided to do some minor book reviews on some of the novels I've read lately since I have nothing to write about my own writing other than the fact the I'm occasionally writing. I'm going to be a bit strict with my ratings because otherwise I would probably give almost everything I read a 9/10.

After seeing the new movie trailer for Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief over Christmas, I decided to read the series. Now I know I will automatically be disappointed with the movie but here it goes.

Please note, there may be minor spoilers but I will try to restrain myself!

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Book 1/5 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
by Rick Riordan
Why I picked it up: Saw commercial for the movie trailer.
My rating: 7/10

In summary, the book is about Percy Jackson, a 12 year old boy who is a demi-god (half human, half god). The Olympians are real and they're located on top of the Empire State Building. His own father is Poseidon and he gets some pretty awesome powers to go along with it. Percy is found by Grover, a satyr who searches for half-bloods and brings them to Camp Half-Blood where they train to defend themselves because monsters LOVE to eat demi-gods. The main plot is that Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen and he thinks Percy's to blame. Percy has to travel, literally, to Hades and back to find the bolt and prove his innocence all the while uncovering something much more horrible.

Riordan started this series off with a bang. I loved the characters and voice (in first person) he created for Percy. It's cute, fun, and even made me giggle out loud at times. I think it's a great original storyline. The main problem I had with the story is how Percy could do so much when he was only 12. I, personally, like my main characters a little older but I'm sure Riordan just wanted to identify with his primary audience. It's just my personal peeve when children save the world (i.e. The Golden Compass). At least make them teenagers. The only series this hasn't bothered me in was Harry Potter (and I think if you liked Harry Potter and The Golden Compass books, you'll like this series as well).

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
Book 2/5 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians
by Rick Riordan
Why I picked it up: Liked book 1
My rating: 6.5/10

In summary, this book returns to Percy Jackson as he's entering the seventh grade. At his new school, he makes a new friend named Tyson who ends up being a Cyclops (and therefore his half-brother since Poseidon is the father of many Cyclops) and nearly blows it up during a monster attack. Percy is taken back to Camp Half-Blood where the campers are constantly under attack from monsters because someone has poisoned the mystical borders that protect the camp. Also, Grover's gone missing in his search for the lost god Pan and Percy has to find him. Percy and his friends go on a quest to travel through the Sea of Monsters (aka the Bermuda Triangle) to find Grover, save him from marrying a Cyclops, and bring the Golden Fleece back to Camp Half-Blood.

Of the five books, I would say this is my least favorite (not saying I didn't like it though!). I didn't think the plot was as good as the others but it does have a very nice twist at the end that I totally didn't expect. Percy, however, begins to get a bit on my nerves in this book. Really, the boy can be quite dense when it comes to mythological creatures. You'd think if you were a demi-god and monsters (who never quite die) were constantly after you, you'd read up on them a bit. I do have to admit, this book did continue to make me laugh, though. Grover was pretty funny!

Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse
Book 3/5 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
by Rick Riordan
Why I picked it up: Book 2
My rating: 7/10

Percy is 13 when the goddess Artemis goes missing during her hunt for a legendary old monster. With Tyson working in the Cyclops forges at the bottom of the ocean in Poseidon's palace preparing for war, it's up to Percy, Annabeth, Thalia, Grover, and two of the Hunters of Artemis to find her before the Winter Solstice where she has to make an appearance to convince the other gods to take the threat of the Titans returning seriously. Otherwise, they'll all be doomed.

I liked this book because I thought it had an interesting plot and you began to see more into what the gods are like, which I enjoyed (although it kind of creeped me out that they had Artemis as a little girl). However, at this point I am beginning to get a bit tired of how Riordan portrays Percy's voice. Many times he goes "And little did I know I wouldn't be back there for a long time..." That just bugged me some because I'd rather the author SHOW it rather than TELL me ahead of time.

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth
Book 4/5 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
by Rick Riordan
Why I picked it up: Book 3
My rating: 6.5/10

In this book, Percy (now entering his freshman year), Annabeth, Tyson, and Grover explore the underground Labyrinth created by the inventor, Daedalus. The time is ticking down on Percy's birthday clock as the gods wait for him to turn 16 and decide their fate. Kronos is going stronger by the minute and even Camp Half-Blood, under the protection of the Golden Fleece, isn't very safe anymore.

Again, I enjoyed this book like the others. I don't have anything particular to say about it that I didn't say about the others. It had a good voice, great humor, and nice originality but the minor things that bothered me before have not changed.

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian
Book 5/5 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
by Rick Riordan
Why I picked it up: Book 4
My rating: 7/10

In the last book of the series, Percy and his friends must defend Olympus, and all of New York City, from Kronos and his army while the gods are distracted fighting Typhon, an extremely powerful Titan. All the main characters are reunited and, sadly, many perish in the battle (although in very PG ways suitable for children). The Great Prophecy comes to a close as Percy turns 16 and decides the fate of the Olympian gods.

I liked this book as a nice ending to the series. I thought it had the charm of the others and primarily good battle scenes. The only thing that disappointed me was how easily they defeated Kronos in the end (really, did you think they wouldn't?). It was very anticlimactic and quick. I would rather have that scene be dragged out than the numerous battle scenes around NYC.

Overall, I really enjoyed Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It was a fun and easy read. To make a point, I read all five books in about a week! Most were accomplished in about a day or two. I think this is a great series for children and those young at heart looking for a good book to curl up and immerse yourself with. According to a note at the end of book five, it definitely appears Riordan will be writing more Percy Jackson books and I plan on reading them.