Speedrun on Percy Jackson and the Olympians
On the third week of October, I went to Jogja, along with Dad and my twin sister. My twin is currently studying at the university for her Master’s degree and we — Dad and I — wanted to help her moving into her dorm. Going back home, I bought Percy Jackson series.
Speedrunning Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is kind of exhausting. I spend two days for one book that has around 280–360 pages (it can be longer if I had to do something). So, I finished the series in, like, two weeks. Guess I’ll be slowing down after writing this review.
I don’t give ratings and reviews on each book in Goodreads since I emphasize more on my opinion than ratings. Please note that my opinion is highly subjective, so I advise you to read as many reviews as possible before deciding whether this is the right series for you.
As its title suggest, the series offer us the story of Percy Jackson, a teenage boy with ADHD who turns out to be a demigod. He has to defeat strong monsters who oppose the Greek gods to save North America (because it’s set in the US) from fatal destruction.
If you watch animated movies or read fantasy for children/middle grade, this series follow the formula of typical children fantasy: a kid protagonist (commonly boys) suddenly acquires a superpower and they become the hero. They should save the world (well, actually save North America, since most of the times the disastrous events only take place in that country), or else the country or world they live in faces destruction. If the story has boy protagonist, he will have two sidekicks who accompany him throughout the story: a comical boy and a smart, reliable, understanding girl. This girl will become his romantic interest, but their romance story isn’t as prominent.
Apart of the formula this series follow, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a fun read. The housing system reminds me of Harry Potter’s housing system, the difference is: the housing in Percy’s universe is based on the demigods’ fathers and mothers a.k.a. the Greek gods. As this series’ main genre is fantasy + children/middle grade, the romance isn’t very strong. You’ll see the development of Annabeth and Percy’s relationship, but that section is just a sweetener.
You’ll also get to know Greek gods in an engaging way. I mean, some of you might have read the Greek gods backstory, which is full of drama. But seeing these gods and their half-human children’s lives through a person with ADHD’s point of view (who also turns out being a demigod too), it’s amazing. Of course, the jokes and social interaction between children and teens there are influenced by the formula (or maybe the actual social environment and interaction in the US).
I read the translated version, so I don’t know about the holes in the original version. As the target audience of this series is children, you shouldn’t expect a detailed paragraph of the setting, what everyone’s doing, or their feelings towards everything that happens around them. Each volume in this series has different adventures — although the big picture is Percy saving America from evils — which makes 300 pages per adventure too short for me. I read other fantasy series for children, like Nevermoor and The School for Good and Evil, both for comparison and curiosity. The sequels in these series have some linking narratives from the latest ending before telling readers about new adventures.
I guess Percy series took some formulas from Harry Potter, yet Harry Potter gets longer in each sequel and we can still see developments of minor characters. In Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, everything is a little bit too fast. You’ll see Luke’s betrayal in the last one third of the first book to serve the evil power. In one of the sequels, you suddenly received a fact that the daughter of Ares dated another demigod, but you never actually know their backstory. I don’t ask their love lives to be as detailed as Annabeth-Luke-Percy’s relationship, but suddenly given a fact that these two demigods are dating kinda weirded me out.
The unexpected battles are predictable. If you have watched enough movies or read enough novels in children fantasy, you can easily predict the next evil sidekicks the protagonist and his two sidekicks have to battle. It also feels like shoujo animes, where the protagonist accepts his fate as a hero and constantly battle evil characters. There’s not much room of them escaping from their duty to get some air and reflect on everything, or even to doubt themselves and tries to escape. The ups and downs aren’t very tense in this series, so it’s a little bit boring.
The beginnings are mostly his rants about his unfortunate event at school, how he can’t survive more than one year at one school because strange things always happen, plus ADHD makes everything worse. Not all people with ADHD are demigods, but ADHD are more common in demigod community in this series.
If you’re a beginner reader who tries to read novels in English language, this series is still fun to read. But if you are an experienced reader, please set your mind to read this series to kill time or just to find a refreshment.