Sunday, December 12, 2010

Where All The Phonies are Greek Gods

Percy Jackson is an angry kid with ADHD and dyslexia. He goes to a special school for kids with learning disabilities. Little does he know he has a very special reason for why he has learning disabilities, and we know that right off the bat, because this is a fantasy novel. And in a fantasy novel, every angry kid has a reason for the problems they have. Harry Potter’s not just an abused orphan. He’s a wizard. Percy Jackson isn’t just a kid with learning disabilities. He never knew his father. Do you want to take a guess of who his father is? Author Rick Riordan, fortunately, doesn’t do the wizard route, so you can check off the guess that’s Percy’s father is a famous wizard. Nor is he half vampire. His father is a Greek God. So, thus, Percy is whisked away to a camp of kids who are half bloods---the same title kids in the ‘Harry Potter’ books have when they have a muggle parent and a magical parent---so, basically kids who have a God parent and a human parent. So, basically Gods have kids with humans, and leave the humans to raise the kids. Ok, this series is the beginning to a series of young adult novels. The ‘Harry Potter’ crowd is clearly the intended audience. That being said, I enjoyed Rick Riordan’s sense of humor and adventure in his first book ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Theif’.

Soon after, Percy arrives at camp, having to leave his school after one of his teacher’s turns into a monster and tries to attack Percy, he spends time getting used to his new surroundings. The name of the camp is Camp Half-Blood, and it's a camp for kids who are half God. Thus, he also discovered a little later on that his best friend, Glover, is a protector called a Stayr, and there he meets a girl named Annabeth, who is the daughter of Athena. Soon, enough, Percy discovers he can breathe underwater, and thus is the son of Poseidon. Now, I’m not scholar in Greek mythology. Heck, I hardly made it through Greek and Roman literature in college. Riordan does a good job, though, of incorporating mythology in a way that kids will understand. Soon, Percy is accused of being the lightening thief, and he and his friends end up on the run. They have to go across country, because the entrance to the underworld is in a recording studio in Las Angles. That’s pretty quirky right there. Soon, Percy is accused of many things. Being a run away and being reported on in the news. He only has his two friends and his trusty new sword, Riptide, to keep his company.

Rick Riordan’s book is quirky and obviously written for a young audience. Though, the question I had been that isn’t it weird that the Gods had relationships with humans, and left them to raise the kids by themselves. Anyone who took Greek and Roman literature in college knows that Gods do interfere with human lives often. The Gods in Riordan’s universe are no different. Yet, Riordan does make his Gods very quirky. He has Gods as camp counselors. The certain Gods unlucky enough to be stuck at Camp Half-Blood are bitter. Of course, this idea of a camp for kids who are a bit magical sounds a little familiar to those who are regular readers of the magical school genre. Riordan, though, keeps a sense of humor through the book, and keeps the action regularly going, thus keeping the reader turning pages.

Though, it has to be asked. It’s kind of weird that a God would meet a human on the beach, and thus leave her pregnant. There’s an adult book somewhere in this. I had to wonder the logic of these Gods having kids with humans and than walking out. Does that make the Gods jerks? Hmmm, I guess even Gods have their faults. Just like wizards and magical folks have their faults in the fantasy genre that was spurred on by the success of books like Harry Potter. ‘Percy Jackson’ is a good page turner, and will keep your young ones reading.

Percy Jackson is an angry kid, with a bit of Holden Caulfield in him. He’s from New York City. He doesn’t like his mom’s live-in boyfriend. And isn’t that the appeal of the fantasy genre, anyway? That the explanation to your problems and bad situation is something out of this world? What’s more out of this world than Greek Gods or wizards? And it’s something all children would like to believe, I suppose. Your parents or mean live in guardians aren’t the cause of your problems. You don’t fit into the world because you happen to the spawn of Greek Gods and wizard folks. Cool.

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