Hope you enjoyed your Valentine’s Day weekend! We had a great time celebrating those we love. It’s snowing more around here again, and it feels so cozy. Of course, we’re used to snow. Thinking of my dear friends and family in Texas!
Today I am excited to share my series review of Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. I got this series for Christmas with the plan to read them at the start of the year. It took me under 2 weeks. They are so good! This was technically a reread but all I remembered is Percy’s dad and that there’s a big battle in New York City in the end. Everything else felt completely new. It was such a fun series to devour. And now I’m thinking this year might be Riordan heavy. I haven’t finished the Heroes of Olympus series before–I think that’s my next one! Because I read these books so fast and they are obviously part of one story, I decided to write a series review on all five books (1 is much less daunting than 5!)
- It is so lucky to have a full series that you can read back to back. I loved being able to just pick up the next book and get back into the story. It makes it feel like one story instead of several. And it’s fun to binge read series.
- Can we just talk for a minute about how wrong the movie adaptations get these books. They are certainly based on the books but the details and plot are just so different. Gotta keep those separate in my mind or it just bothers me.
According to Goodreads, “Book 1: Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. . . . [His mom] sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods . . . where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends, Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld . . . and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
Book 2: In this episode, The Sea of Monsters, Percy sets out to retrieve the Golden Fleece before his summer camp is destroyed, surpassing the first book’s drama and setting the stage for more thrills to come.
Book 3: It’s not everyday you find yourself in combat with a half-lion, half-human. But when you’re the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster. Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive…
Book 4: Percy Jackson isn’t expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears at his potential new school, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse. . . . Time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos’s army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth – a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.
Book 5: All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time. . . . The long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.”
Of course, I love all the Greek mythology elements. These books cleverly introduce younger readers to these classic stories and characters. We meet most of the Gods of Olympus: Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hermes, Apollo, Ares, Aphrodite, Dionysus, Artemis, Hera, and Athena. There are references to mythic heroes and their stories like Perseus, Hercules, Icarus and Daedalus. We meet Chiron–the centaur trainer of heroes, the Oracle of Delphi, Medusa, the Minotaur, and several Titan Lords including Atlas who holds up the sky and Kronos the Lord of Time. Percy’s sword is famous, Zeus’ lightning blot is stolen, the God Pan is missing, and the gold drachmas still work. All of this offers a backdrop for Percy’s story and his friends at Camp Half Blood. His adventures are new stories but all intertwined with the Greek myths. He goes to find the Golden Fleece to rescue camp when Thalia’s tree is poisoned. He and Annabeth enter the Labyrinth first created by the master architect Daedalus. He enters the underworld several times on different quests. And the home of the Gods, Mount Olympus is on top of the Empire State Building. The clever ways these myths are a part of Percy’s journey are so fun to discover.
Percy is a fun, engaging narrator who goes on a classic hero’s journey throughout the series. I love how he makes even the most intense situations lighthearted with his banter and fun narrative voice. I loved his journey to accepting his identity and working towards helping his friends and family. He starts as a naive kid with good fighting instincts but gradually he embraces his role in the fight for Olympus and the big prophecy. He is a good friend and a good role model even though he does make mistakes. When the world is at stake, Percy comes into his role as hero and leader. He makes sacrifices for those he loves. He is willing to listen to others and trusts those closest to him. And he turns down immortality for something of greater worth to others. I really admire who he has become. And I enjoy the many similarities to Harry Potter that I’m noticing–classic hero that fulfills a big prophecy, powerful evil villain that rises from the dead in unexpected ways, friends help each other save their world, parents are not super involved (yes, Percy isn’t an orphan but his mom can’t protect him from the monsters, etc). big battle to come to decide the fate of the world. Percy belongs on a list of the great protagonists in middle grade fiction.
The supporting characters surrounding Percy give depth to the story and help define his character. Annabeth and Grover are both fantastic for their loyalty and bravery. They experience nearly everything with Percy and save his life countless times. Clarisse grew on me as the series progressed. I admired her bravery but also her ability to help her friends and her gentleness. Tyson I basically forgot about from my previous reading. And he is so much fun! Love how innocent and hard working he is. And how he teaches Percy about the importance of family, no matter what it looks like. I also forgot about Thalia’s character and how intertwined her fate is with Percy’s. Nico offers a unique and darker side to the demigods. I was fascinated by his grief and determination. I love Chiron for his wisdom and advice. I wish I had a mentor exactly like him. Rachel Elizabeth Dare surprised me over and over. I loved that she is mortal and still central to Percy’s success. Perhaps most fascinating is Luke’s journey. I had forgotten his role in the entire story (not just in book 1). I really liked the flashbacks that pieced together his past and potential future. I always admire when an author can kill off his characters. It makes them feel more realistic if they experience joy, pain, and grief like we do.
These books are full of exciting action and surprising plot twists. I couldn’t put any of them down! I love an exciting series and it was awesome to be able to just pick up the next book after a cliffhanger ending. I loved all the clever ways the Gods, creatures, and locations are set up inside our world. From the mist that keeps mortals from seeing mythical creatures and battles to the hidden in plain sight entrances to Olympus the Underworld and more, I was constantly impressed with how subtle and clever the connections were. The action slowly builds to the climactic final book. While the stories get more complex as the books progress, the big picture story always stayed focused on Percy and his battle to defeat Kronos. It didn’t get too big or over the top and I liked that. The action is intense and fantastic culminating in an epic battle for Manhattan with more than one twist before the end.
Overall, I love these books and was so glad I reread them to start the year! The characters are fantastic. I love Percy’s narrative voice and his hero’s journey. The story is engaging and clever with plenty of twists and turns and lots of fun connections to Greek Mythology. If you love fantasy, want to learn more about Greek myths, love action, love series, love middle grade fiction, want to try something new, read these books. They are for everyone! Highly recommend for middle grade readers and up!
What are some of your favorite middle grade series?
Which Rick Riordan series is your favorite?