The Percy Jackson Series

Leah Courtney
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Hardcover Boxed Set

My older children read the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan with great interest.  Even Charles, who is not always an avid reader, devoured these books.  I was a little leery.  I try to stay away from faddish children's book series.  Often they have subject matter I don't want my children to read, and unfortunately, they are often poorly written.  So, I approached the Percy Jackson books with some trepidation. 

Percy Jackson thinks he's an ordinary middle schooler.  He has an unfortunate habit of getting kicked out of school; however, because trouble just seems to follow him.  Percy realizes he is more than an ordinary kid when he accidentally vaporizes his math teacher on a field trip.  Then he finds out his best friend is a satyr who helps him escape to a special camp for other kids like him- demigods.  These are children of the Greek gods (who still exist unknown to ordinary mortals) and humans.   The series continues as Percy comes to realize more about his past and his destiny- to save Olympus and the gods.

I have to admit it- I really liked these books!  I am great fantasy lover, and Rick Riordan does an excellent job spinning a tale of fantasy and adventure.  If you have something against magic, don't let your kids read these books.  If talk of mythological gods and monsters bothers you, don't read these books.   But, if you enjoy a good fantasy and a good Greek myth every now and then, the Percy Jackson books are a great read.

The writing was occasionally a little childish, and sometimes the intensity of the action- jumping from one monster fight to another- bothered me a bit.  But, overall, I thought this was a great fantasy story of good versus evil.  The heroes recognize the value of family, friendship, and doing the right thing throughout the book.  Things are not easy for our heroes, but good wins out in the end.

Two cautions I would throw out for parents:  Never did I feel like the book was anything more than a fictional tale when talking about the existence of the gods and goddesses.  But, once in the first book when Percy and friends take a trip to the Underworld, the question is raised about the perception of Hell.  The spirits basically say that mortals "see what they want to see."  It almost makes the reader feel as if maybe the gods and goddesses could be true and everything we know as real just our "perception"- sort of a "no absolutes" philosophy.  My other caution would be the boy/girl relationships that develop as Percy grows older.  In the first book he is only 12, but by book five, he is turning 16; and he has a relationship with a mortal and another demigod.  This didn't bother me, but I know some parents may be concerned.

I would definitely say I have become a Percy Jackson fan.  I would like to go see the movie of the first book!  On an educational note, reading these books has really peaked Charles's interest in Greek mythology.  He is now reading some Greek myths, and I think I have convinced him to read the children's version of The Odyssey that I have.

Leah Courtney / Author & Editor

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