Book Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I recently finished reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.

Every few months, I read some popular, young adult fiction.  I do this and recommend you go and do likewise for three reasons:
  1. To keep a finger on our cultural pulse
  2. To have conversational opening with students
  3. To have fun!
And the Percy Jackson series meets all three of these requirements.

The series follows the adventures of Percy Jackson, a young demi-god, on his adventures with his friends.  Riordan weaves Greek mythology throughout his story, imagining that the Greek gods were real and really alive in America.

The series connects in several places with our cultural pulse
  • Even heroes need community
  • Trust is difficult to earn and maintain, but necessary
  • Courage and honor are valuable, forgotten virtures
  • Everyone makes mistakes and needs forgiveness
  • There has to be more to this world that what we see
Now, as far as conversational openings go, the series may be aimed too young for the average college student and may be too nerdy for your average high-schooler, but Greek mythology is timeless.  Edith Hamilton's Mythology seems to magically appear on campus every year and reading Riordan seemed like a nice alternative to reviewing Hamilton.

On top of that, it's not uncommon for students to hear (from friends and professors) that the Bible is a book of myths, just like the Greek myths or other ancient stories.  Now, as someone who enjoys myths and fairy tales, I don't take that as the insult it's intended to be.  But it's helpful to have a well-developed, rich understanding of myth when helping students through this confusion.  (What does it mean that our stories are mythical and true?)

But that's not enough for me to recommend you read 1744 pages of young adult fiction. 

I really enjoyed reading the series.  These books were fun! 

The characters were interesting, had some complexity and likability.  The plot moved quickly and well.  The story-telling was first-person and consistent and concise.  He borrows from other stories and other recent young adult fiction, but doesn't seem to steal.

Take 'em to the beach and they'll make a fun summer read.  Better yet, come down and visit us in Florida and you can read 'em on the beach this week.

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