Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian
I think it was Ray Bradbury who remarked that now that he was older he preferred reading children’s books. I find myself doing the same thing.
A week or so ago, I was at Walmart and I saw a wall full of “adult” (not x-rated, but just written for grown-ups) books that held no interest for me at all. Next to them was a series of books that looked intriguing. I picked up the first one and took it home where I was instantly hooked.
The idea behind Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books is that the Greek Gods (and all the mythology that goes with them) are real, still with us and hidden from us ordinary mortals by a “Mist”. Percy Jackson (real name: Perseus) is a 12-year-old misfit who is about to get thrown out of another school. One of his teachers thinks he has promise and on a field trip to a museum in Manhattan, gives him a rather unusual pen, which comes in handy (as it turns into a sword) when the math teacher on the trip suddenly turns into one of the Furies and tries to kill Percy.
As the story progresses, we find out that among their other long-time habits, the Greek Gods (and goddesses) are still mating with mortals, and creating demigods (known in this series as “Half-Bloods’). Percy is told by his (mortal) mother that he is one, although not who his father is. His best friend Grover, from school, turns out to be a satyr, assigned to guard Percy, who is an unusually strong half-blood and he is escorted to Half-Blood Hill, a camp for demigods and goddesses.
If you’re familiar with classic children’s fantasy lit, there are going to be some familiar elements in these books. There is a prophecy, a wise teacher who wants to protect his charge, an intelligent female friend, a ‘professor’ who doesn’t much like children in general and Percy in particular (Potter much, Mr. Riordan?), a quest and a battle. But that’s a little like saying the QEII is a boat, something like a canoe. The concepts behind the books and the characters are their own selves and Percy is a lot of fun. There’s a lot more humor in these books than in most similar works and lots of cultural references for us all to get.
I’ve read three of the books and plan to get the last two as soon as I can. These books are addictive and very enjoyable and can be enjoyed by more than the young people they were mostly written for.