Richard (Rick)'s Reviews > The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
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Mar 23, 09

bookshelves: middle-school
Recommended for: ages 8 and up
Read in March, 2009

First off, this book is a blatant rip-off of the Harry Potter series, and is obviously targeting that population. Here's a sample of the similarities:

Main hero is young son of magical lineage, destined by prophecy to one of two possible destroyers of the evil Lord because of his birthday (think Harry Potter and Longbottom). Impetuous and brave, but often lacking skill, he gets in fixes and needs his friends to pull him out. He attends a summer training school for magical persons like himself. During the offseason, he mingles with regular people like you and me = Harry Potter.

Wise, ancient leader of magical training school takes a special interest in young hero, but often does not disclose all he knows about his future to protect him. Gets kicked out during the second book by leaders of the magical world for falsely being accused. Consequently the camp is run by magical tyrant until his name is cleared. = Dumbledore.

Magical friend of main hero knows a lot more about the magical world and always knows what to do to get out of scrapes = Hermione

Big giant-like oaf with kind heart and special attachment to main hero, has a special attachment to magical animals = Hagrid

Dark Lord once defeated by main hero tries to regain his human-like form again so he can "rise again" and take charge of army of monsters to fight against magical kingdom. Oh yeah, he communicates with and taunts main hero in his dreams. = Voldemort.

One house of magical children in the training school hates main hero. Always have, clear back to the leader of their house, and always will. = Slytherin.

Upon entering the training school, hero doesn't know what house he belongs to until he is "claimed" by magic = sorting into houses.

Training school is where heroes learn to channel and use their powers. It is protected by magical boundaries so the bad guys can't get in and the children are safe as long as they don't stray beyond boundaries = Hogwarts


Anyway, you see what I mean. It's so obvious, I'm surprised there hasn't been more accusations by Potter fans about this. However, to be fair, most fantasy books really boil down to about the same kinds of characters and plots, so it's a rehashing of what we are all familiar with. That being said, I really enjoyed this book (the first of the series that I have read) and am enjoying the third one right now. It is not quite as good as Harry Potter, but if you liked Harry Potter, I think you'll definitely enjoy this series.

The main creativity being shown here--I must give props for this--is the retelling of the ancient Greek myths in modern-day New York City. It was fun to see how creatively the author could convert the myths to fit modern times. He's clever this way, and many funny nuances will go unappreciated unless you are familiar with the myths, so I would recommend looking the characters up on Wikipedia as you read the book. However, as I've been rereading the myths, I've been reminded how bloody and lustful they are, so you might want to skim. Because of how it retells the Greek myths, particularly in a more PG way, I think it's a good way to help kids read and understand Greek mythology, which is often important to understanding many other kinds of literature. However, it could be scary for younger kids, and even in Riordan's less graphic translations, some of the myths and characters still raise awkward questions for children---such as why all these demigods are the products of one-night stands, and why the gods seem to have so little interest in their children.

Enjoy!
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Astoria I really wish people would stop comparing Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. I've read both series and Hermione and Anabeth are nothing alike. And Tyson and Hagrid are nothing alike. Tyson is a baby Cyclops, Hagrid is an adult giant.



Karalee I don't think the Percy Jackson books are a "blatant ripoff" of the Harry Potter books. The books in both series are good examples of the hero/quest cycle and are bound to have similarities. But they're different in many ways as well.
I do agree that both series are good ways to teach children (and other readers) about mythology in various forms, and get them interested in literature.


Tory I thought Tyson was more Grawp-like at first introduction, but his character did develope further than Grawp's.

However, I completely agree about the similarities though. They are blatant and everywhere. It doesn't necessarily take away from the story, because it's a fun read. But all the same, it's kind of begging for comparison... and so far, the characters just aren't as great as the HP series. I wish he would have gone with a little less cookie cutter, because I really like Percy.


Athaya This bookis not a rip-off.Please stop comparing Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and The Olympians. Percy is more lucky than Harry. Annabeth and Hermioe are nothing alike, so is Hagrid and Tyson. Ron and Hagrid are in good realtionship unlike Grover and Tyson.


Lindsay Chumley As a writer myself, I find myself offended on behalf of some of my favorite authors when their writing, which falls into the same genre as some more famous and unavoidably better-liked series, gets called a "blatant" ripoff. For me, because I'm not an HP freak and have only done one read-through of the books, I found this series different enough that I didn't feel I was reading the same thing. I do enjoy Rowling's writing style a bit more, but I truly believe Riordan to be very clever about how he introduces the mythology, as you mentioned. I was once reminded by a writing professor that there's nothing new under the sun after I submitted a poem, on the same subject, that was along the lines of a song by a band I wasn't familiar with. I also wrote a story that people thought was reminiscent of Hemingway, although that was completely unintentional. I appreciate that you did give the series a positive review after expressing a negative opinion, but I'd encourage you to perhaps be a little slower to think an author's writing is a "ripoff." That word is just very strong.


Sabreen I agree with Lindsay that the words "blatant ripoff" are strong. But if that's how you feel, that's how you feel. I think it's...heavily inspired by Harry Potter, but Riordan has a creative take on the whole mythology thing and I find his work to be interesting. He took a few things from Rowling's stories: the prophecy, the magical school, the sorting, like you said. But JK Rowling, in turn, stole things from previous fantasy writers. Really, there are only a few stories in the world, and a million ways to tell them. The Olympians series may be a ripoff, but its a pretty solid read, compared to some of the trash out there.


Fufuflann This book is NOT a blatant rip off of harry potter!!!!!!


Xvildene I've read through the HP series a gazillion times, and even though there are similarities (which can be found in almost every hero/quest/villain book ever), their style of writing is completely different, both brilliant in their own ways.


Gibby39 While there are similarities among the Percy Jackson series and Harry Potter, to say it is a "blatant rip off" is a bit unfair. Would it be alright to point out that Lord Voldemort is to Sauron as Death Eaters are to Ring Wraiths? Are those not "borrowed" from Lord of the Rings?

What I am trying to say is this: we stand on the shoulders who come before us. The stories we have heard will affect the stories we tell. There will be similarities. But each stand on their own in their own right. This genre will always have a hero, who will go on a quest (likely without a guide or parent), and experience both loss and triumph. But each story has been told with their own twist, which makes the adventures so much more exciting!


message 10: by Lars (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lars Fischer Um. I guess if Harry Potter is the only other fantasy story you've read, the "blatant rip-off" makes sense. However, Harry Potter did not event fantasy, wizards, hero-in-training, quests, or any of the other themes. It just makes very good use of these themes - as do the Percy Jackson series.

Harry Potter takes a lot of inspiration from Wizard of Earthsea. Bad thing? Not at all. All good literature borrow themes.

The whole "young person is misunderstood and accused for all the wrong reasons, tries to set things right, is caught up in his/her own trouble, mess up but with help of friends eventually saves the day" is certainly not a Harry Potter invention, either, or specific to fantasy. It's probably one of the most common themes of YA literature.


Rachel Completely agree. Way too many similarities. Lost a lot of respect for the author, Riordian.


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