Percy Jackson

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Percy Jackson (series)
Author: Rick Riordan
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thoughts: Definitely Cute; I Was A Little Disappointed With The Conclusion; Entertaining, But Not Exactly Insightful; Worth A Quick Read

In my quest for entertaining Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction, it was only natural that I would feel compelled to read the Percy Jackson series. Probably one of the most successful series since Harry Potter, there isn’t a household of school-aged children I enter that doesn’t have a copy of this series.

While an enjoyable take on Greek mythology, modernized, and an entertaining, action-packed read, I wouldn’t say this series will change your life or anything. It’s cute. Percy is endearing, but it lacks any enduring philosophy for future generations.

Annabeth, Percy’s best friend, is a little bit annoying, if not overly-unrealistically-intelligent, I sometimes found her a little too perfect to buy. Her role in the final book, The Last Olympian, is a little bit frustrating, if not downright sad. Why make apoint of making this girl so great, only to turn her into somewhat of a moody brat in the last book? I know Riordan was aiming for a bit of a jealousy aspect, (why do we always have to have a love triangle?!) but I couldn’t help but feel it was all a bit contrived.

I think the part of this series that frustrated me the most was the strange way time is spaced between each book in the series. Sometimes Riordan picks up again in the strangest spots so that I can’t help but feel like I’ve missed something (and perhaps I have, Riordan produced a strange array of marketable work to promote the movie franchise. Sad to see that interfere with his work, but who can blame him? It’s the business). I felt like, at the beginning of almost every book, I had no idea where or what we had suddenly just picked up.

But Percy himself is redeemable enough for the whole series. He’s clueless and somewhat dim-witted, but he’s exactly what I’d expect from the narrative of a Greek hero. A lot of courage, and very little understanding. Some of his quips are pretty sweet, funny in almost a laugh-out-loud way. If I were still 14 I would definitely have had a little crush on him. He’s a good kid and a great role-model sort of character.

So, cute and entertaining, mixed with a Disney publisher, I’m not at all surprised this book has done as well as it has, but, in all honesty, I’m no die-hard fan. Not sure yet if I’ll bother with Riordan’s other series in the Camp Half-Blood franchise…

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Day Sixty-Three: Politics for Eleven-Year-Olds

Ah, there is nothing like spending the morning on the phone with an insurance company to really start your productive day! Every time I talk to these people, I want to set the world on fire and burn it to the ground. Nothing makes me feel more anarchist than a capitalist insurance company…

I see why so many of these dystopian novels are so popular today… God, we live is a dystopian society, except everyone sees that it’s wrong and no one know what they can do. I don’t know what to do. It just makes me angry more than anything, and nothing breeds ignorance like anger.

I love how in all these dystopian novels, the rebellion always comes. The hero stands up and fights it… Fights who? Books have literal bad guys. Why can’t it be that obvious in life?

Anyway, not meaning to wax political. I’ve been thinking about this because my main characters are eleven, but I can’t help but write them to know the pitfalls of their society (which is not the same as our society, my book is fantasy). They are basically enlightened children. They walk around like tiny adults. They know what’s going on. They see more of their world than I know of mine…

But will a young reader understand that?

I don’t want to underestimate my audience, but I’ve stopped writing for children and started writing my story as it needs to be told. What’s worse, to lower yourself to your reader or to lower your reader needlessly?

I’ve started writing this book as if speaking to the eleven-year-old version of myself. What did I want to hear? What did I believe in? It certainly wasn’t boys and magazines.

Finished chapter 16 yesterday. And the book keeps marching on.

Day Fifty-Seven: The Book So Far

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Yesterday I e-mailed Le Novio my first 12 chapters to print at work (jobs with free printing? This isn’t a myth?) and came home to find this behemoth waiting for me on the kitchen table. It was pretty adorable (he even made alternate cover options…) and sweet that he’d gone to all the trouble of making my first full book into… Well, a book.

Hilariously enough, I used to do this same thing with my work as a child. There is just something so lovely about seeing your work on paper.

But there it is. 212 pages, 55,000 words (publisher’s count, not word count. Be sure to know the difference). My book so far with room to grow.

I’ve spent the day sleeping reading The Golden Compass my book by the pool.

There it is… Elysium Academy in all it’s first-draft, flawed glory. Someone get me my red pen!

Day Seven: Literary Identity Crisis

At last! Before leaving my hometown after my mother’s rousing birthday adventures, I managed to get my hands on her library card and spent a good portion of my morning raking through its treasures.

I’ll admit, at first I was a bit worried about entering what bold faced signs around that mysterious corner of the library, hidden somewhere past the tedium of Reference, dubbed “Teen Section. Teens ONLY!” But at last I found that partially concealed portal somewhere between two angular shelves and a support beam, and slipped into the hazardous world beyond. I feared I would never make it out alive and, after a small avalanche of Seventeen Magazines, I almost didn’t.

Now, I am not particularly old, by any means. I’m a solid 23 years of age. Only four years out of teen-dom. Yet, I have absolutely no idea how anyone can manage to pick even a single book out amongst the Young Adult shelves. So, after scurrying around this deserted corridor into what was largely made of thick supernatural (emphasis on the Vampire here) novels, they all kind of began to mold into two basic categories:

1) Books for Teenaged Girls. This consists of your prototypical forbidden “no one understands me” forbidden romance, typically distinguished by it’s overly gothic script that’s nearly impossible to read and the word LOVE written at least thirteen times on the cover alone. I was once, not too long ago, a teenage girl. To this day I still don’t understand why all of these novel encourage young girls to “find their soul mates” at age 15. I did not find my soul mate at 15, and I wouldn’t trade a day of the eight years between then and now that I got to explore the world without worrying about the safety or well-being of another person. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure love when you’re a teenager seems cataclysmic and destined (as all things do at that age), but surely, there is something else young girls think is worth living for?

2Books for Teenaged Boys. Is it weird that I was naturally more drawn to these books even though I’m a girl? Although, I’ll admit, there was a pretty clear opening path that all of these books started out with. Boy doesn’t fit in, figures out he has some sort of special power, learns to use that power all while kicking serious ass. I love this general theme. I was undoubtably an outcast as a teenager. There’s a reason why I only have one friend remaining from that period of my life. But… with so many books verging on the same opening summary… I was finding it hard to pick any. I’m sure they’re all very different (for even my own work could boil down to that same opening theme, but I couldn’t find a book on those shelves with the same real idea), but they have the same covers, the same general cast of characters, the same rhetorical questions to grab your attention. How do these books set themselves apart?

So, in keeping with my rather thorough research, I rented as many of these books as I could. And then I went to Juvenile fiction and did the same.

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So… how did I do? (I’ve already started Percy Jackson and am already a third of the way through. It’s going well!)

I’m not entirely sure where the line is between Young Adult and Juvenile fiction, but I intend to find out (because, clearly, I’ll be toeing that line quite a bit). All I do know is that Juvenile Fiction seemed to consist of a lot more of that second category of Young Adult than it did the first. And Juvenile seemed to have a lot more kick-ass girls and a lot less icky love stuff. Is that the difference? Young Adult is Juvenile Fiction with a love interest? Throw in series that these kids grow up in (Harry Potter being of course the most obvious and a crowd/personal favorite) and I think we have ourselves a bit of a gray area.

I don’t know where I belong in this world and I’ve spent 23 years learning to be ok with that, but learning today that I don’t know where my book belongs… I think I may be having a bit of an identity crisis…

Day Four: The Perils of Quotables

Phew, have done some excellent character creating today, including massive genealogies that I swear weren’t a waste of time. (Probably.) My problem is I see the scope of the world I am building way wider than is probably strictly necessary. Like I feel like I could write an encyclopedia on all the information I have on this world (I won’t say “made-up” here. I didn’t make up this world, I woke up to this world. It was there. Now I’m just trying to define it. It’s weird that they call it world building? The world is as solid as a wall–it just, thus far, only exists in my own head and the scribbles on my laptop.), in fact, in a way I sort of am.

So, I am feeling good about my progress. No narrative written this weekend, per say, but I have a very definite outline now and some really good character foundations to populate my world.

I took a little break today to find some new books to read due to aforementioned shunning at the library, and I found a very new-age, religious bookshop with a dinky shelf of Young Adult, but it was enough to get me by until I can sweet talk my way into a library card. Managed to pull some Artemis Fowl, Timora Pierce (at the recommendation of a good friend), and the start of the His Dark Materials Trilogy. It’s a pretty intense world out there of all these YA series. Its weird, but I want to read them all! What a strange genre, so many crazy diverse books all shelved together just because they seem like something a young person might read. (I am still shocked to find Zusak’s The Book Thief on there… just read that book a few months ago and it has nothing very “childish” in it other than that the protagonist is 12… the thing is literally narrated by Death.)

In a way it’s overwhelming and intimidatingly competitive to rack through these series, but then I see how so many are so successful. It’s the genre where you learn to love books–the same one that taught me how to love them–and so it’s all wildly exciting. It makes me feel like the possibilities in a genre like that are infinite. I could live the rest of my life in YA and never really worry about growing up. It’s not what I expected to write, but in a way it’s weirdly timeless and I’m happy to immerse myself in it.

However, equally captivating, albeit slightly easier to conquer, are these Quotables. Now, in case you don’t know, Quotables are essentially a print company taking really great, fantastic, idealistic quotes and making them into greeting cards and mugs and such. Man, this bookstore had tons of Quotables and I spent a quite a bit of time drowning in them in search of a birthday card for my mother.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that Quotables encapsulate perfectly exactly what is wrong/difficult/conflicting about my life. Now I personally love these quotes. I find them pretty beautiful and stark and wish I could tape them up all over my dry-wall bared apartment. But these damn things are full of these just horribly naive and simplistic aphorisms about how to live your life. They’re beautiful and succinct and make a great point (typically about following one’s passions or living the life one hopes to live although really you can find a Quotable about anything… you can even make your own on their site), but it’s as though just them telling me to do it is going to change everything… perhaps it just irks me because it’s a little bit… condescending?

It’s like i just want to scream at each inspirational or pedantic quote,

“Yes, I’m trying to, but it’s not that easy!”

Take the one I bought for my mother (Yes, of course I bought it. Do you know how hard it is to find an actual good greeting card these days? Impossible to none!)

(Also… no copyright issue, I hope?)

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It’s great. It’s wonderful. Mom is going to love it. But… it doesn’t actually apply to her.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s a fine line between saying how you’re going to live your life and actually living it that way.

People kind of think I’m crazy right now (sometimes me included)–giving up my life, my friends, a happy place to hole myself up in a partially abandoned apartment complex in order to write a book that may or may not suck and may or may not get published– but all I’m really trying to do is live my life like those Quotables tell me to.

Maybe that does make me crazy, but at least I’ll be the kind of crazy that looks great on a coffee mug.