Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Review: Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian

The ultimate text in Rick Riordan’s Olympians series, Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian brings the much awaited war of the gods to the forefront. After hearing Percy’s internal psychobabble for four books, we final get to see the end result of his final prophecy as the Titians fight the gods for a second time. As noted in the previous incarnations, Percy, upon his sixteenth birthday, has a choice to make: preserve Western Civilization or send it plummeting to the ground. So will Percy survive or will he fall victim to the trappings of power and end civilization as we know it? While Riordan attempts to shield the reader and prevent the answer, we all know that Percy will stick with the status quo and opt for the current state of things in this battle of good versus evil. His father and the 

Olympians in toe stand for good, even if they are somewhat stubborn at times.
Thus Jackson lands in nearly every mythological realm—from a visit to his father’s undersea castle, where his brother has become a valued warrior, to a brief imprisonment in Hades before a dip in the river Styx to become a modern age Achilles, to frequent conversations with the only Olympian holding down the fort, Hestia goddess of the hearth (home fire/hearty of the home), Jackson sees it all. He is a machine here and once he takes his baptism of invincibility, Jackson mows through foes with reckless abandon. Yet, like the ancient Greek warrior, he too has a vulnerability, his lady love Annabeth. Predictably, their relationship plays out over time as well.

In effect Riordan uses his limited space, taking place during yet another short expanse of time over a summer, to tie up loose ends. New York is besieged by monsters, but the city sleeps through the affair (mostly) and does not need to rely on the proverbial mist to keep them ignorant. We see allusions to the Trojan War, especially when Clarisse arrives in a flying chariot to save the day. Much like when Patroclus wears Achilles armor, we discover that the hero was not Clarisse and that the triumphant call to glory is in fact a lie. All of the events build to the final show down where Luke and Percy stand toe-to-toe on top of the legendary mountain. It is here redemption is offered, and resolution comes out as Riordan closes the loop in his final book of this particular story arc.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review: Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth is the penultimate text in the Olympians series. Much like in the previous installment, Percy Jackson and the Titian’s Curse, the world is lurching every forward toward the end of times. Kronos is assembling his army of monsters and the end of days nears, yet this end rests in Percy’s hands, for as stated at the onset of the series, when Percy turns 16, a date just a year away, he will be responsible for the fate of humanity and the gods of Olympus.

In a rich young adult adventure, Jackson once again transverses the country, heading out on quest to find Daedalus, at the center on the ancient maze. Daedalus, the maze’s creator, offers the band of heroes a chance, one that will allow them to deflect the advances of Kronos’ army and defend Camp Half-Blood from their attack. This attack, one that seeks to end the campers and thus bring Olympus to its heels, would come through the famed maze, avoiding the camp’s protective barrier against monsters by entering the camp through secret passage.

Jackson really comes into his own here, meeting Calypso, Daedalus, and helping Grover end his quest and endure the final requests of the ancient Pan. With each page, the tension rises, the journey grows richer, and Riordan inputs more depth to the Greek cultural perspective in a modern arena.

While the text encompasses more time, we fail to fill in the gaps. For whatever reason, summer and therefore camp, stands as the time Jackson enters our lives. War rages around him, yet he is largely absent from the battle until summer comes. This fact can seem artificial as the texts stand upon one another, yet as the series continues to grow, the mythology plays out and brings the reader into the depths of the battle, constantly wondering when and how it will end.