Friday, November 6, 2009

Book(s) Review – Percy Jackson and the Olympians

It's an open secret that I am a big fiction of fantasy literature (Not that kind you pervert!!!). I have read a whole lot of fantasy fiction work from various different authors including Rowling (duh!), Tolkein, Phillip Pullman, C S Lewis, Paolini, Eoin Colfer, Johnnathan Stroud and the likes. And I thought that I was almost done with the entire gamut of such books. Imagine my surprise when I came across an author called Rick Riordan with a “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series. I read the first one tentatively and liked it a lot. Then the remaining four books followed and before I knew, I was loving the entire series and couldn’t wait to how the series ended (Of course I knew that GOOD ALWAYS WINS IN THE END but I was interested to see how the plot develops).

The book is set in the background of the United States and is based on Greek mythology with a twist of the modern world. The series consists of five books: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian. The story revolves around the main character of Percy Jackson, his friends Annabeth Chase, Thalia Grace and Grover Underwood and a horde of other smaller ones. The series uses the epic battle between the Titans and the Greek gods as a backdrop and mingles it with a modern world where it is said that the gods actually exist along with Titans, Cyclopses and the entire range of other mythical creatures like centaurs etc. All these beings co-exist with normal humans who, of course, have no idea of any such existences. These gods are known to have a penchant for “mortals” which of course leads to children, some of which are called demi-gods. These demi-gods have a lot of power with them and are very turned into the tools of the gods because the gods themselves can not interfere in the affairs of the mortals (Remember Hercules?). The protagonist of the story is son of Poseidon, one of the "Big Three" (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades). The story progresses along with how the protagonist came to be aware of the gods, him being a demigod, having a cyclops as a brother, causing an earthquake, saving god’s asses (pardon the expression) and being welcomed into Empire state building (That’s right… according to story, Mount Olympus is now situated at the mythical 600th floor of the Empire State Building).

The story followed in the book is more or less predictable what with the inevitable concept of good winning over evil. Needless to say that there is a prophecy involved which decides the fate of the demi-gods and sets the gears of fate into motion. Of course no story is complete unless there is a dash of love between the friends, a pinch of jealousy amongst colleagues, clash of ego among the contemporaries and the stuff. And, without a doubt, there have to be certain clich├ęd elements in the story like an all powerful villain which even the strongest of good guys have failed to defeat but which the protagonist crushes like a twig; a selfless person who decided to sacrifice himself/herself for the greater good.

But what I felt was extremely good about the book was how well the author has been able to unite the concept of Greek gods and goddesses with the contemporary US life and lifestyle. How the author has found, even in the simplest of things, a scope to introduce the element of surprise. How the modern symbols of American life style such as Cheerleaders, McDonalds etc have been incorporated as something having magical backgrounds to them. It is also fascinating to see how the author has been able to mingle the know Greek stories about Ikarus, Pandora’s Box, Troy, Medussa, Achilles’ heel, Hercules etc fit into the story line.

So my suggestion is that if you can, do read this one and you will not regret it.