Today on Read and Reviewed I am going to try to explain to those of you popping by why exactly I have so much love for the snarky, hysterically-funny, troublemaking demigod known as Percy Jackson. This post has been surprisingly difficult to write, as I always find it harder to talk about things I adore, and trust me when I say, I ADORE Percy. Nonetheless, here is my attempt to share my love with all of you, and hopefully entice those of you who haven’t yet read the Percy Jackson & the Olympians books to go out immediately and purchase all five (and the first three in the sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus). In my opinion, a character like Percy can never have too much love!
My love affair with Percy started way back in 2007, when I got a job as the library assistant at an elementary school close to where I live. Each year, the Missouri Association of School Librarians recommends 10 books for students in grades 4 -6 under the title “The Mark Twain Award Nominees”. One of those books in 2007 happened to be The Lightning Thief. Not knowing just how much I was going to come to love the books, I actually read a couple of the other nominees first, even though I was already feeling a strong pull toward Percy’s story, thanks in part to the mention of Greek Mythology.
And then I read the book, and was instantly enamored. The book is told in Percy’s first-person point of view, and from almost the first chapter, I was a goner: Percy Jackson had caught me, hook, line and sinker. I immediately read the first three books (as that was all that was released at the time), and waited (not-so) patiently the next two years as The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian were finally released, completing the original Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. I went out on both books’ release days and picked up my copies straight away, diving in immediately, as I just had to know how things would turn out, and if Percy and his friends would be all right.
Percy is not a character that I would normally be drawn to. No other teenage boy had ever grabbed my attention (aside from Harry Potter, and I daresay I was not the only girl to be a little in love with him), particularly not one who was constantly kicked out of school, got in trouble with his teachers, suffers from ADHD and Dyslexia, and in general causes a lot of mayhem. But deep down Percy is a really good kid, who is simply a product of his birth; as a child of Poseidon, he can’t help himself, because trouble just finds him even when he isn’t particularly interested in finding it.
”As … as you wish, Father.”
A faint smile played on [Poseidon’s] lips. “Obedience does not come naturally to you, does it?”
“No … sir.”
“I must take some blame for that, I suppose. The sea does not like to be restrained.”
Percy is full of snark and sass, never afraid to utter a smart-aleck comeback and generally make a nuisance of himself. He has a definite habit of speaking without thinking, and isn’t afraid to offend the gods and goddesses who really do nothing but cause more trouble for him. But under all of that is a sensitive, caring person, who loves his friends, his camp, and his mother ceaselessly. As he grows older and his relationship with Annabeth grows, he becomes a somewhat more thoughtful person; even though he still has all the things that initially drew the reader to him, it’s more tempered, more mature. The Percy we see in the sequel series is more grown-up, and more aware of exactly what’s going on around him. While the first series chronicles Percy’s growth as a person, and showcases his bravery time and time again, the sequel series finds him just wanting to set things right and get back to those he cares about.
Hazel squinted. “How far?”
“Just over the river and through the woods.”
Percy raised an eyebrow. “Seriously? To Grandmother’s house we go?”
Frank cleared his throat. “Yeah, anyway.”
Throughout all he goes through, though, Percy never loses his sense of humor. It’s perhaps this – and the way he just continues to persevere, even when the odds are completely against him – that makes me love him the most. It is a very special person indeed who can continue to see the good in things when the world is falling down around you, but Percy does this time and time again. He never fails to see the humor in situations – and he’s always able to make others laugh, even when he perhaps doesn’t mean to – which helps the books keep a lighthearted feel despite the darkness that surrounds Percy and his other demigod friends.
If this post feels like I’m waxing on poetically, I really sort of am. I can’t help myself: Percy Jackson is probably my favorite fictional character of all time, and that’s saying something considering all of the books I’ve read. But there’s just something about a character who is sort of unthinkingly brave, who doesn’t hesitate to swoop in and try to help, particularly when his friends are in danger. This is not to say that Percy never feels afraid, because he does, and I think that makes his actions even more appealing. He’s well aware of the fact that he’s not immortal, that he can be killed. But he’s so passionate about protecting those he loves that he’s able to set that fear aside and do what needs to be done. It’s even more appealing when he does all these amazingly brave and fantastic things with that smirk on his face and a devil may care attitude. I don’t know if I’d be as drawn to Percy in reality – if he were one of my students I’d probably want to strangle him – but that’s the joy of fiction; you get to experience things that are remarkably more interesting and entertaining in a book’s pages than they would be if you faced them in real life.
“We’re staying together,” [Percy] promised. “You’re not getting away from me ever again.”
I would be remiss if I failed to mention Percy’s relationship with Annabeth, as the events in The Mark of Athena just reinforced my love of Percy, his deep feelings, and his antics more than anything else ever could. But I don’t want to spoil the books for those of you who haven’t read them any more than I may have already with this post (I tried to be vague!), so let me just say that Percy/Annabeth is definitely my One True Pair; I will ship them until my dying days, even when Mr. Riordan stops writing books in this universe and leaves their fates up to the readers’ imaginations. Part of the draw of Percy is his developing feelings and friendship with Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena, and the way they go from semi-enemies, to good friends, to best friends, to so in love with each other their thoughts are consumed with each other. (And if that phrase raises a red flag, don’t fret! Their relationship makes perfect sense, as does the depth of their feelings, and while their emotions are definitely front and center in the latter books, it never overshadows the plot. Plus, Annabeth is completely kick-ass and awesome!)
“Dreams like podcast. Downloading truth in my ears. They tell me cool stuff.”
I feel like this post is perhaps going round and round in circles, and doesn’t make any sense. If that’s the case, I apologize: as I said, it’s hard to write about things I love, particularly when you’re writing it with stars in your eyes, but hopefully, if nothing else, this has convinced you to read The Lightning Thief (and hopefully it will convince you to read The Sea of Monsters, and it will convince you to read The Titan’s Curse, etc.! Yes, I am an enabler!). If you like snark and sass, absolute bravery in the face of complete evil and danger, and a teenage boy who is an absolute riot to read, then you can do no better than Percy Jackson. Plus, you know, there’s that whole thing about ancient gods and goddesses (who are very faithful to the original myths) living atop the Empire State Building (where Olympus is located, of course), running amok in modern-day New York. And who doesn’t want to read about that?