Molly G's Reviews > Percy Jackson and the Olympians Boxed Set

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Boxed Set by Rick Riordan
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's review
Sep 21, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: children, fantasy, mythology, adfi
Read in August, 2009

Favorite: book IV - Battle of the Labyrinth

I majored in Greek mythology at college, so I can say happily, with some authority, that Riordan really knows his stuff and gets it right. No matter how brief the reference and how it's reused for the adventure, he gives snippets that kids, anyone, can latch onto and be consistent with more academic approaches. Also means, if you're already familiar with the mythology, he lets you feel very clever by letting you recognize a being a page in advance before he reveals who/what they are. (Catch the uncommented-upon Iliad homage sequence in Book V.) I like the idea of someone reading this as a child, going on to study the mythology more formally later on, and recognizing many of the elements and enjoying how the fictional use melds with the originals — and probably finding it all easier to follow and remember for that.

Of course, I can't help comparing to Harry Potter (though that's kind of silly, since kids-discovering-they're-really-some-kind-of-supernatural-being is a genre that existed long before). That's okay, PJ doesn't suffer by the comparison. Like Rowling, Riordan is excellent writing engaging adventures that are fast, enjoyable reads; and have plots that build consistently and elaborately to surprising reveals, within each book and across the series. A few contrasts that I really appreciate in PJ: I like the world continuity of using a single mythology (very well!), and the bringing of mythical Greek elements to present-day NYC are very clever, from cultural and humorous standpoints as well as educational. I also enjoy how the plot, without betraying any of the information that's established and developed through the book, usually ends up to be about something quite unexpected and different from the conclusions the characters and reader were drawing all along. Likewise, there's more room for characters to move outside expectations, sympathies, and archetypes, but never randomly or in betrayal of how they've been established.

A fun, fast read, which contains well-considered factoids you won't even realize you're picking up.

8/15/13: reread "Lightning Thief". As much as I enjoyed it the first time, seems even *better* compared to the movies. ;-) Seriously, as ever: very intelligent and awesome, and really knowns its mythology. Plots within plots, moral ambiguity/politicking, and thoroughly touching loyalties.

8/16/13: reread "Sea of Monsters". Book wonderful, doesn't deserve it but review will be overshadowed by having just seen the movie. I never understand the Lynch-Dune Syndrome: omitting awesome, cinematic action sequences from the book to be replaced with lamer made-up action sequences in the movie. Doesn't make it more exciting or anything... just dumbed down. Rereading the book, among other things, was a sequence of: "Ohhhhh yeah, that's why that bit makes sense…" One of the odder (and to me, more angering) things the movie did was keeping Grover in the wedding dress to fool Polyphemus, but have P. think G. was a "housemaid" rather than prospective wife. Seriously? That's along the lines of "PATROCLUS WAS NOT ACHILLES'S COUSIN, 'TROY'!!" …Although I do appreciate that Annabeth took the Odysseus role, from the Sirens to the Nobody ploy. Very cool.

8/17/13: reread "Titan's Curse". Bought it in the morning, read most of it on the beach, finished it in the bath. Which, all in all, is very appropriate. Another great installment—I can't tell if they get better as the series progresses, or it's just the awesome buildup of layers and complexities. Which may be the same thing, but is not a difference in the writing quality, just in having installments. There are bits of this that stuck with me more clearly from the first reading than almost anything in the previous books; the Di Angelos are so memorable, as is the unwritten prequel of the exploits of Thalia, Luke and Annabeth. And Artemis ROCKS. As does Apollo. As ever, love Riordan's really great depth of knowledge with the mythology and intensely faithful and clever ways he plays with it. And, something that's become a bigger issue for me since my first reading, these books kick almost everything else's ass in terms of passing the Bechdel Test and beyond. Name another series where in any given scene the female protagonists outnumber the male. As well as not only being cool but being different from each other. Thank you, Riordan; really awesome. May still be a male titular narrator, but still kicking almost everyone else's butt on the female-role-model-representation front.

8/20/13: reread "Battle of the Labyrinth". Don't know if it's still my favorite, but another cracker nonetheless! Guess they're all fitting together pretty seamlessly now so one doesn't stand out so much from the whole. I like the device of different focal gods per book; really helps set each individual tone. And as I've always said since first reading: DAMN is Riordan good with the source material (mythology). I think I will read Kane Chronicles for upcoming plane trip: I trust him on the Greek and Roman mythology I know a lot about, so I'm prepared to trust him on the Egyptian mythology I know very little about. Might be interesting to test my theory of "people who read this not knowing much about the mythology may pick it up".

8/22/13: reread "The Last Olympian". Happiness! Oh, I do love this one. So much I'd forgotten and what a joy to be reminded. I love the "Iliad" references so much—all the moreso for going entirely uncommented on in the narrative. I love the definitions/distribution of "heroism" (as theme, action, and characteristic). I love how the identity/nature of the "Last Olympian" fits into my undergraduate Classics thesis, for pete's sake. ("Homecoming" as the final requisite Epic Element.) The only downside is that I'm done with the series now. Alas. I suppose I could give one of Riordan's other serii a go…
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Koalabear10901 My favorite book in the series in the battle of the labyrinth too!

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