You know how you really want to reread Harry Potter during this pandemic, but JKR makes it so hard because she kept doubling down on hurtful things she’s said re: the trans community? But you are still really craving a trio of friends who are clearly good fighting a fight against evil? And there’s also a lot of humor and a magical school that’s just out of sight of the world that we live in?
May I suggest the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan to fill that void in your heart?
And as always, I know you want to know if I’m talking about the Percy Jackson book series or the movie series. And the answer to that is “What movie series?” We do not mention the movies in this house because my daughter is a die hard Percy Jackson fan and has a visceral and bone deep hatred of the movie, and it all started with the trailer, though she did give the actual movie an honest try.
Don’t worry, though. Nobody hates the movies more than Rick Riordan hates the movies:
Please, for the love of multiple intelligences, DON’T show those “Percy Jackson” movies (ironic quotes intentional) in your classroom for a compare-contrast lesson or, gods forbid, a “reward” at the end of your unit. No group of students deserves to be subjected to that sort of mind-numbing punishment. The movies’ educational value is exactly zero. A better use of classroom time would be . . . well, pretty much anything, including staring at the second hand of the clock for fifty minutes or having a locker clean-out day.Rick Riordan, A letter you can share with your teacher!
I will share the link to that whenever I get a chance because it makes me laugh. Riordan did also write a longer post wherein he seriously addresses the issues he had with the film. It’s also worth a read but does have some spoilers for the book series.
But I digress.
So what is the Percy Jackson series about?
Well, it’s about a kid named Percy Jackson who finds out that the reason he has ADHD is that he’s actually the son of a Greek god destined to save the world. Oh, and the reason his teachers hate him is that they’re actually Furies sent to destroy him. He then goes to Camp Half-Blood–you know, where all the other demigods wind up eventually–and meets Grover (a satyr) and Annabeth (daughter of Athena) who accompany him on a quest because they all have their own business to settle. There’s a lot of humor that works for middle grade readers and also works for me because I’m secretly twelve. Also, you know, I JUST WANT THEM TO WIN. So it’s very good for me to read a series where I know that’s what’s going to happen.
You know what else is great about the Percy Jackson books. Riordan continues building the world with new series! So, once you finish Percy Jackson & the Olympians, you’ll wish you can see more about Camp Half-Blood and this mythological world that Riordan has built AND YOU CAN in the Heroes of Olympus series.
One of these books ends in a literal cliffhanger.
The best part about the Heroes of Olympus series is that Riordan increases the racial and ethnic diversity of the world AND it all stops being so ding-danged heteronormative. Like, there was legit a point where I was like, “Wow, this is very heteronormative” and in the very next chapter, it wasn’t. I appreciated that.
Oh, and did I mention Heroes of Olympus has one of my favorite characters of ALL TIME in it? Leo, y’all. It’s Leo.
And just when you think that’s over, then you get The Trials of Apollo series which continues to build on the world, and that doesn’t even take into account that in the middle of all that is a short story collection or two or three!
So there’s The Demigod Diaries and a bunch of other related books (all with the same trademark humor), including one that’s a crossover with his series about Egyptian mythology. You can see a list of all of that stuff on Riordan’s website.
I know you’re wondering how there can be even more, but there is.
There’s going to be a Percy Jackson TV series on Disney+ with the pilot written by Rick Riordan himself. (There is no release date as of yet, but once there is, I’m adding it to my calendar.) Oh, and there’s a musical. And also the Percy Jackson formula has been so successful that kids (and teachers) have clamored for stories from mythologies that Riordan isn’t familiar with so much so that Rick Riordan started an imprint to give authors from those backgrounds a platform to share those stories. So, if you read all the books in the Percy Jackson universe and are like, “That’s great, but what about a Mayan story or a Hindu story or…?” Then, the imprint has what you’re looking for.
So what I’m saying is if you need some major escapism during this pandemic, the Percy Jackson series has you covered.
For this year’s A to Z Challenge, I have decided that I’m going to focus on comfort reads/watches as we enter our second (!) April in the pandemic. Tune in tomorrow to see what I choose for Q!