This is the first book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and a series I’ve been wanting to read for years. So many people have compared it to the Harry Potter series, which is one of my favorite book series of all time, and yet I never read it growing up. I suppose I saw the trailer for the movie and it didn’t look interesting, but after several people said it was much better than the movie and was their childhood favorite, I decided to give the first book a chance.
And I am glad I did.
Synopsis: Percy Jackson believes himself to be a normal kid, who just happens to switch schools every year and has never met his real father. That is, until he discovers he is a half-blood; half-human, half-god. And his father is one of the mythological Greek gods. As he is thrown into a world of gods and monsters, he must work with new friends to find the lightning bolt of Zeus, which was just stolen, and stop a massive war.
I’m going to keep this review without spoilers, because I absolutely loved this book and honestly don’t have the heart to spoil anything I would recommend so highly.
In many ways, this is a run-of-the-mill story of the “chosen one” trope, where a boy finds out he has powers and must save the world. However, this book was surprising and good in so many ways. It has everything. It’s got important themes of loyalty and bravery. It has powerful friendships. It blends history and mythology with the modern world seamlessly. It has action moments and character ones. Yes, it is written for someone rather young (the main character is twelve, so that is around the age of those reading this series), but even as a mid-twenty something college student, I enjoyed it.
I couldn’t help but compare it a lot to Harry Potter. Like Harry, Percy makes two close friends, a boy and a girl. Like Harry, Percy has magic and must save the world from evil. Like Harry, Percy discovers a magical world hidden under among normal people. Like Harry, Percy goes to a school where he is trained to use his abilities. In many ways, I can see how the two are compared so often. Saying that, the books are quite different as well. Harry’s story is set mostly at school, whereas Percy travels around a lot (at least in the first book). The worlds are different, one based on magic and the other mythology. My point is, I can see why people compare the two, but they are also distinctly different.
The books does a really good job of introducing a complex world of gods and a pretty extensive cast of characters without ever feeling too overwhelming. Because we follow Percy, who knows nothing of this world in the beginning, we get introduced to new concepts and characters as he is, which makes everything feel very organic as its introduced. Saying that, if you have a working knowledge of Greek mythology, you will get a lot more of the references than if you go into this book knowing nothing of Greek gods like Poseidon and Zeus.
When I started reading this book, I expected a much younger feeling story, and yet there are deeper ideas as well. How to get out of an abusive relationship. How to deal with grief. The importance of good friends. How to distinguish a good person from a bad one. Self-empowerment. There are so many amazing themes and ideas explored in this admittedly simple story.
As you might be able to get from my positive review, I have every intention of continuing on in this series. In fact, I have already ordered the second book from my library. This book hits that perfect balance of fun, interesting, and intellectual.
Have you read this series or watched any of its adaptations? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,