23 February 2010

I Can Go the Distance Till I Find My Hero's Welcome

#11 The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Hmm. I could have sworn I've read this before. Misunderstood boy labeled as "troubled" when he's actually "special." Enlists the help of his two friends (smart girl and a boy who provides the laughs) to fight the baddies and save the world. Wait, his name isn't Harry Potter? He's not a wizard but a demigod? Oh and his parents are alive this time? Okay.

I'm part of the Harry Potter generation. I pretty much grew up with Harry, Hermione and Ron. I started reading the books when I was in sixth grade and the final book came out a few days after my 20th birthday. I'll be reading them until my eyes can no longer see. When that time comes, I'll listen to the audiobooks (I already have The Deathly Hallows). The books are that precious to me.

I'm not trying to be bitchy or put Riordan down, but I don't think the Percy Jackson series will ever reach such heights, despite its glaring similarities to the Harry Potter series. The novel lacked depth. J.K. Rowling spoiled us. Sure, kids can still grow up reading Harry Potter, but he's "ours" as one of my friends put it. Kids no longer have to wait for the next installment of the series. Who dies in what book is no longer the biggest secret ever. It's just different.

Maybe I don't understand this generation's young readers. Perhaps they're all sufferers of ADHD who can't deal with a build-up, it's just action action action. Do they like predictability and lack of emotion? I hope not.

But wait, I'm reviewing The Lightning Thief. My bad.

Percy Jackson has never lasted more than one year in the same school. He's a troublemaker. He's dyslexic and has ADHD (or so he thinks) and has thus decided he's not cut out for academics so no use in trying. After a series of events, he discovers that he is a demigod and finds himself at Camp Half-Blood where all the bastard offspring of gods and humans reside and train for quests that will make them heroes. Of course Percy is a little more special than the rest of these demigod children because his daddy is one of the more important and powerful gods. So within a few weeks in Camp Half-Blood, Percy goes out on a quest to halt World War III.

There were parts I liked and didn't like. I give Riordan low marks (I've been watching too much of the Olympics) for failing to invoke any kind of emotion within me. There are some pretty traumatizing events in the book, but they didn't mean anything to me. I hate to draw comparisons to Harry Potter again, but that series had the ability to turn me into a blubbering mess. The action sequences were fun, but I still held doubts over Percy's ability to fight big mean monsters after just a few weeks of training at camp. He's 12 years old. I don't care whether he's a demigod or not, but 12 year olds shouldn't just be like "WHAM PAM MONSTER I'LL KILL YOU."

The book is quick and painless. I never found myself cringing or screaming at the book. It's a good read if you're 10, even though we are dealing with bastard offspring of gods and humans. Alas, I'm 22 and the book just doesn't have the ability to transcend age groups (unlike Harry Potter, yet again). I'm semi-interested in reading the rest of the series for entertainment's sake and also to see how the whole gods and humans story unfolds. BUT I know there are better books out there and I don't think I need this series in my life.

I've already got Harry Potter to fill the void for kids with special abilities who get themselves into mischief. And it fills the void quite well.

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