Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Part III


Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the final part. Finally.

I apologize for the wait. I was hijacked by the Tomorrow series, Warm Bodies, and Perks of Being a Wallflower, all of which will more than likely make an appearance here.

But first…

The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian (Book Five)

All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows.

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times bestselling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate. (Blurb)

Prophecy

It is in The Last Olympian that the Great Prophecy that has bound the series together is revealed in full. It is because of this prophecy that Percy, Thalia, and Nico’s births were so, uh, controversial.

The Great Prophecy

A half blood of the eldest gods,

Shall reach sixteen against all odds,

And see the world in endless sleep,

The hero’s soul, cursed blade shall reap,

A single choice shall end his days.

Olympus to preserve or raze.

What’s Good about The Last Olympian

  • The stakes –Percy believes that victory can only come with his death. Regardless of this, he chooses to fight the titans and their army. Regardless of the risk to their own lives, Percy’s friends choose to fight alongside him.
  • The further development of Rachel Elizabeth Dare – While not a demigod, Rachel exhibits supernatural abilities that are eventually explained in a way that not only works into the plot but also reflects the motivations of other characters.
  • Luke’s mother, Mrs. Castellan – Not only does she provide Percy and Nico with the information they need to defeat Luke and Kronos, but she reflects the doubt of the gods’ rule that permeates the series. She provides the reader with not just a sympathetic link to the antagonist (I have a hard time classifying Luke as a villain) but also with a moral dilemma. (Or at least she did for me.)
  • The last Olympian
  • How many times have I said this? Nico di Angelo
  • And Hermes. Oh, Hermes.
  • The battle – As crazy as it was, I enjoyed it. Plus, I’m a Doctor Who fan, and – well, both Doctor Who and Percy Jackson make excellent use of a certain prominent feature of Manhattan.
  • The Curse of Achilles

What’s Bad About The Last Olympian

Honestly, I really like this one. Of course there are a few faults with it, but they are the same flaws I’ve mentioned before.

Verdict

The Last Olympian is a unique novel in Young Adult Literature. While I have compared it to other famous YA series like Harry Potter, it is in this last book that the originality of Riordan’s work wins out. Riordan knows that he is working with Greek Mythology and therefore archetype characters and plot devices, yet he manages to give them a post-modern twist. By doing so, he ends his series so well that I believe this series is worthy of the praise and fame it has received. It is an excellent story for both young men and women.

In fact, all my personal issues with it are just that – personal issues. Personal choices of voice and style. The story is compelling, and the characters are real.

If he could’ve just gotten rid of Blackjack.

Cliffhanger

Although Percy Jackson and The Olympians officially ends with The Last Olympian, Riordan has created a spinoff series known as The Heroes of Olympus. While his first series was heavily based on Greek mythology, The Heroes of Olympus is focused on Greco-Roman mythology, and it begins with Rachel Elizabeth Dare’s prophetic words first spoken at the end of The Last Olympian:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,

To storm or fire, the world must fall,

An oath to keep with a final breath,

And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death. 

Major Themes in Percy Jackson & The Olympians

Regardless of how I feel about Rick Riordan’s writing style or his persistent use of characters who sound like they should be at a kegger, there are several themes throughout the series that I think are not only relatable to the reader but great teaching for our society.

Theme One: Let Us Create God In Man’s Image

If you have ever read any Greek mythology, you will no doubt have noticed how terribly human the gods and goddesses are. They are full of flaws and desires magnified by their supernatural identities.

It is easy to see how the discord between the demigods and Olympus has developed due to the fact that the Olympians are gods created in the image of man. They may have power and immortality, but they are not perfect. Thus, they fail the demigods as leaders, as heroes, and as parents.

This first theme also runs with the second:

Theme Two: Absence Makes The Heart Grow Bitter

What makes Percy Jackson cooler than you or me? The fact that he is a demigod. It is Percy’s divine bloodline that sets him apart and makes him interesting. The fact that his father is the god Poseidon. Cool, right?

Right—to an extent.

What does it meant to be a demigod in the universe of Percy Jackson? It means growing up in a broken family. It means growing up without a parent. It means going to a summer camp where all the kids in your cabin are your half-brothers and sisters.

The children of Half-Blood Camp have absent parents, a feature many readers can relate to on a personal level. It’s a twist on the archetype of the orphan hero. Yet Riordan does not excuse the gods and goddesses for their neglect, nor does he glorify the demigod’s situation.

Instead, he presents the cold truth that the lack of a parent has a negative effect on a child.

In the Percy Jackson universe,

  • Demigods are usually raised by only one parent, and some raise themselves. Percy lives with his mother who is, in Book 1, married to an abusive man. Nico di Angelo and his sister Bianca were left in the Lotus Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas by their immortal father after their mortal mother was killed.
  • When a Demigod is first brought to Camp Half-Blood, he is sent to the Hermes Cabin. In theory, the new camper’s stay in the Hermes Cabin is temporary, and once he is claimed by his divine parent, he joins the cabin set aside for the children of that parent. However, the gods and goddesses do not always claim their children, meaning that the Hermes Cabin is overpopulated. These children are then forced to grow up with the knowledge that they are half-divine, yet without the knowledge of their lineage.

At some point, all the demigod characters reflect hurt feelings of betrayal, abandonment, loneliness, and bitterness. Annabeth’s response is to run away from home. She embraces her demigod status and rejects her mortal family and is extremely independent. Nico has developed a dependency on his sister Bianca, and when she is killed, he is determined to restore her to life. Luke turned against the gods because his childhood was marked not just by a lack of a father but because his mother was unfit to raise him due to Hades’ curse.

As for Percy, while his relationship is very strong with his mother, he and Poseidon remain distant. It is clear that Poseidon loves Percy, but he remains aloof. Poseidon seems to be concerned with being a just god and holds to his obligations and responsibilities. Thus, Percy often approaches his father with awkwardly and with awe and trepidation.

The estranged and distant relationships between the gods and goddesses with their demigod children results in the conflict of the story. Luke is persuaded by Kronos to turn against Olympus because of his anger at his father Hermes and the other gods, but it is not only Luke who feels this way. Countless other demigods join the side of the titans, as do other Greek mythological characters.

Within the world of Percy Jackson, Rick Riordan speaks for the fatherless (and motherless) children today. We need mothers and fathers. We need family.  We can survive without them, yes, but is that fair? Or right?

The Hero Of The Story

Who is the hero of Percy Jackson and the Olympians? It’s hard to say. Obviously, Percy is an important figure – the series is named after him – and I would agree that he is a hero of the story.

But the hero of the Great Prophecy? Well, I don’t know about that.

Riordan’s characters feel very real to me. (Some of them, at least.) As I’ve said before, characters like Nico and Rachel Elizabeth Dare, as well as Annabeth, Luke, Clarisse, and Thalia, are more than just supporters of our hero Percy. They may serve roles in the drama of Percy’s life, but it is clear that they are living their own stories. Luke isn’t just a shallow villain. In fact, he’s not a villain at all. He is an antagonistic character and a hero. Annabeth is not just a love interest. She is a heroine.

So what makes a hero? Or a villain? And is it possible to be both?

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a good series. Like its heroes it has its flaws, but it is an exciting read. It is also a great introduction not just to Greek mythology but also to fiction in general. I think it’s also a series that would be of interest to both boys and girls.

Overall, I’d give this series a B.

 

Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Part I covered The Lightning Thief (Book 1) and The Sea of Monsters(Book 2).

Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Part II covered The Titan’s Curse (Book 3) and The Battle of the Labyrinth (Book 4). 

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2 thoughts on “Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Part III

  1. Interesting. I do like it when a story is able to effectively blur the lines between hero and villain. There are times when I’ve seen such blurring done cheaply, but when it is done well, it is fascinating.

  2. Pingback: Demigods Rock! Part 5 | FanFiction Fridays

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