With the conclusion of the Harry Potter movies released recently on cinemas, it would seem fit to find another hero who will fill the void left by the boy wizard in the hearts of fans worldwide. Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson comes to mind. The books were brought to my attention by a high school buddy, who shared the same tastes in books as I do so I had high hopes about this series, even before the movie based on the first book came out a while back. Unfortunately, the movie did not fare well in the box office so I have doubts as to whether the studios would pursue a sequel.
Back to the books (there are 5 in all), I knew from the beginning that it was a very promising saga. It had all the elements that would appeal to young (and not so young) adult readers (myself included). It had adventure, drama, a possible love story, and one of my favorite subjects– mythology!
I liked Percy Jackson because he was portrayed as a dyslexic kid who never fit in anywhere no matter how hard he tried. As it turned out, he was not supposed to at all, because he was special in his own right — he was a demigod. I think Percy is a good hero because he is loyal to his friends and those who are close to his heart — vulnerable too as he seeks the approval of a father he knew in his heart but not in his head. I liked the Satyr Grover, who was assigned as Percy’s protector but most of the time needed to be protected more than his charge. He reminded me of Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley, who stood by Harry despite the dangers they constantly faced. Annabeth was obviously Percy’s Hermione. Of course, there was also Luke, son of Mercury, traitor and Percy’s arch enemy, who is the franchise’s answer to Draco Malfoy.
While I was reading the book, I was imagining the Disney version of Hades (the movie version was kind of dark), and I couldn’t help but empathize with the literary version, who was kind of cool and current, especially when he complained about his expenses from keeping all of the dead people in the Underworld. It was hilarious when Percy called him Uncle. That was a cute moment, as the scene when he first met his dad Poseidon and his other uncle, the temperamental Zeus. Elements of pop culture were also incorporated in the characterizations of the gods which makes the books contemporary and interesting to read.
Since the plot was based on mythological creatures, there was a concrete path which the story could follow. The presence of mythological characters in the human world, was explained in a similar fashion as Harry Potter’s Muggles. Half Blood Hill was in effect, the demigod Hogwarts. The similarities to Harry Potter were many but Percy Jackson still managed to retain its originality because it only incorporated the sellable aspects of HP into a new story set in a different location and battling a different enemy.
I liked the fact that the gods retained their basic characteristics — arrogance, dalliance and power — and still managed to be more human. The difference with Harry Potter was that the rebellion is active from the onset, and heroes were actively being pursued and killed so the danger was imminent from the onset unlike Harry’s relatively quiet (except for Quirrel and Fluffy) first year ay Hogwarts.
There were many aspects of the book that I liked. Perhaps, it just so happened that it was based on a subject already close to my heart, perhaps it was because the writing was simple and straightforward in a language easily understandable by even readers without a wide vocabulary.
However, the literature did not move me as much as JK Rowling’s stories perhaps because of the different writing styles the authors used. JK used a third person account, giving her wide berth to tell the story of Harry Potter from an author’s perspective while Riordan used the first person approach, limiting his narration to the perspective of a teenage demigod who is only starting to find his footing in a world fraught with politics, danger and adventure.
I have just finished the third book on E-book and I have plans to finish the series in the weeks to come. These books are highly recommended for kids and young adults and would appeal tremendously to boys of all ages.