Saturday, June 28, 2008
Percy Jackson and the goblet of Greek Mythology
Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. New York: Miramax Books, 2006.
Genre:Modern Mythology, Modern Fantasy, YA
Series:Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Plot:Percy Jackson doesn't get along in any school, but he can't go home to his smelly stepfather and his loving but weak mother. When he temporary vaporizes his pre-algebra teacher (something I'm sure most 12 year olds dream of often) he starts to figure out that he is beyond not normal. So he gets sent to a summer camp where he learns that he's not normal, in fact, he's the son of a greek god! And he's not even safe at the summer camp, so he must solve a pretty big problem with a little help from his friends. Percy is only 12 years old but he travels the country on his very first hero's quest meeting a strange cast of characters every where he stops.
Appeal characteristics: The book has some of the best modern characterizations of gods I've ever seen. Percy is the essential misfit superpowerful hero and his two best friends who aid in the quest might seem familiar too (a brainy girl and a awkward but loyal boy both roughly his same age and also misfitted in some way.) The actual character behind the characters doesn't need to be developed through a lot of exposition as it shows itself in ever step of the adventure. The book pulls you into the story and is a real page turner that makes a good start to the winding plot of what promises to be an epic series.
Red-flags: Some god on god violence, also use of the term "half-bloods" to describe the half mortal/half god children which both reeks of Harry Potter and is also generally somewhat offensive. Some of the scenes could be scary to younger children.
Read Alikes:Neil Gaimon's American Gods or Anansi Boys and Mur Lafferty's Heaven are all in the same vein. Mur's takes place mostly off earth though, and both are more mature than Percy Jackson and don't have the advantage of series. Holly Black's "A Modern Faery Tale" series has a similar feel as well with mortals dealing more with all Irish Mythology than Greek. I haven't read Spiderwick Chronicles (also by Black with Tony DiTerlizzi) but from the reviews I think it has many of the same appeal elements of modern fantasy: misplaced person meets with mythological creatures much to the disbelief or disdain of adults for a ton of adventure. Fantasy is such an awesome genre, especially for YA readers. I also found a booklist on the Readalike.org page about twisted fairytales, which while not exactly the same, is in the similar idea of fantasy novels.
For some other thoughts I had about this book you can check out my Livejournal entry.