In 2005, the first novel in the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, was released. In 2009, I picked up a copy of that book from the local Waterstones, and fell in love. As a child who’d always marvelled in Mythology, dragons, and general fantastical stories, the series gave me everything I adored. Of course, I was not the only one who fell head over heels for the Percy Jackson series. Several of my friends adored it, too, and when the last book came out in 2014, a group of sixteen-year-old girls, devastated, made their way to the nearest bookstore, to say goodbye to their childhood heroes.
The story is set in a fictional universe, where the Greek Gods are not only still alive, but move with the centre of Western culture. So, in the mid 2000s, they reside just above the Empire State building. And as well as being alive, each God and Goddess is still active. As in the classical tales of Greek Mythology, they are still falling in love with humans, and having children. Percy Jackson, the protagonist of the series, is one such demigod, the only living child of Poseidon, God of the sea. The first half of this overarching story follows Percy’s adventures with his friends at Camp Half-Blood, gathering forces in an attempt to stop Kronos, king of the Titans, the ones who came before the Gods, from wreaking havoc over the entire world. As well as offering a beautiful tale about family, friendship, and not giving up on people, the series incorporates a significant amount of classical mythology, giving an educational benefit. The first books are written solely from the point of view of Percy, and the chapter titles give an accurate representation of his wonderful, and hilarious character. The best three are probably; ‘I become supreme lord of the bathroom’, ‘We take a zebra to Vegas’, and ‘I accidentally vaporise my pre-algebra teacher’.
After the book ‘The Last Olympian’, in which Kronos is defeated, the series takes a different turn, with new protagonists, and a new prophecy. This reveals that there are, in fact, Roman demigods in existence, with their own, albeit more militarised, camp. Still including Percy, and further characters from the original series, we’re introduced to Jason, Piper, Leo, Frank and Hazel, sons and daughters of the Gods. This section of the series focuses on the rise of Gaia, mother of the earth, a being even older than the previously antagonistic Titans. As the prophecy regarding the heroes quest ominously states; ‘To storm or fire, the world must fall’.
Having grown up with Percy and co., my view may be slightly biased. Nevertheless, it remains true that this book series brought me many hours of happiness, and it’s still bringing that joy to other children today. However, if you’re interested in the series, and want to dip your metaphorical toe into the waters of this fictional world - do not do so by watching the films. They’re pretty terrible, and possibly one of the worst book to film adaptations I’ve ever seen - even the original author, Rick Riodan, despises them. So, please, immerse yourself in this wonderful realm by reading the books. Not watching the movies.