For readers between the ages of ten and twenty, few series are as popular, or hold such a special place in readers’ hearts, as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians. And let’s be real, people younger than ten and older than twenty are reading these books too. Tomorrow, October 8, marks the release of the latest book in The Heroes of Olympus series: The House of Hades. In celebration of his exciting event, we’re taking a look back at what makes Rick Riordan’s books so captivating.
The Lightning Thief, the first book in the series, follows the story of Perseus Jackson, a dyslexic, ADHD twelve-year-old with a track record for trouble and getting expelled from schools. Percy’s life changes quickly when his pre-algebra teacher turns out to be a Fury, a mythological deity of vengeance, and attacks him on a school field trip. Percy discovers that he is a demigod, the child of a human and an immortal Greek god. Realizing he is no longer safe, Percy’s friend Grover takes takes him to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp-like residence for demigods. At Camp Half-Blood, Percy meets other kids like him, like Annabeth, a daughter of Athena. With Annabeth and Grover, Percy sets out on an adventure to recover Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt.
Percy’s adventure takes him across America as he runs into traditional Greek figures such as Medusa, Chiron, Hades, Ares, and the Furies. In the following books and the next series, Percy continues to travel the world with his friends and encounters even more figures from Greek mythology. Each book is an exciting adventure for readers, and there are three main reasons why.
Okay, reason number one why the Percy Jackson series is so good: there are so many interesting and diverse characters. At the heart of the Olympians series is the trio of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover, but other characters fill out the story—Clarisse, the Stoll Brothers, Luke, Thalia, and Tyson. The Heroes of Olympus brings in vibrant characters like Leo, Piper, Jason, Hazel, Frank, and Reyna. All of these characters come from different backgrounds, families, and cultures. Riordan’s characters are unique, all bringing something new to the story.
In addition to the human and demigod characters in Riordan’s books, there are a plethora of mythological characters as well. This brings us to reason number two why the Percy Jackson series is so good: Riordan’s interpretation of Greek mythology. There is no doubt that Rick Riordan really knows his stuff when it comes to Greek and Roman mythology. His books are full of references to the traditional myths, both in obvious and delightfully subtle ways. But, as events take place in the modern world, Riordan creatively modernizes the myths. Ares the god of war rides a motorcycle. The Fates knit. Mount Olympus is actually the top of the Empire State Building. As someone who studied Greek and Roman mythology for years, I was incredibly impressed and amused by Riordan’s interpretations of mythology for a modern audience.
Those are two reasons why Rick Riordan’s books are creative and enjoyable, and here is number three: Percy Jackson teaches kids that they can overcome difficult obstacles and become heroes. This is not unique to Riordan’s books. One of the purpose of young adult literature, or books that focus on young characters, is to show that though kids are young, they can achieve great things. But Riordan’s books take this idea a step further. His books show that kids with challenges, like dyslexia and ADHD, can be heroes too. In Riordan’s books, each demigod suffers from dyslexia because their brains are hardwired to read ancient Greek and not English. They are ADHD because they’re natural instructs are trained for battle. Throughout the series, these “disabilities” become important factors in demigods saving the world, and these characters make the kids reading these books believe that they can be heroes too.
There are definitely more than three reasons why Rick Riordan’s books are so incredible, but those are three of the most important because they make the stories come alive. Both Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus are entertaining, enjoyable, creative, funny, and inspiring for both children and adults. I adore these books because I love mythology and the classical time period, but you certainly don’t need to be familiar with Greek mythology to enjoy these books. Percy Jackson will take any reader for a thrilling adventure.