Chiron looked surprised. “I thought that would be obvious enough. The entrance to the Underworld is in Los Angeles.”
As someone who worked in Los Angeles, I can tell you that this is completely accurate.
While Harry Potter was spending his summers at the Dursleys, Percy Jackson attended Camp Half-Blood. This book has done the impossible: it has redeemed the name of Percy.
Yes, that's right, that snot-faced, lily-livered waste of air of the very same name from the Harry Potter universe. That name is now relegated to the ranks of "acceptable," because of my love for this book.
Perseus (Percy) Jackson is the kind of kid with whom you can't help sympathizing. He is the type that's born under a dark star, because inevitably, wherever he goes, whatever he does, however good his intentions, he can't help but fuck everything up. Everything that can, does and will go wrong. A simple field trip can turn into a disaster in seconds.
Jay-Z's got 99 problems, Percy might have more. He nearly flunks all his classes, he's got dyslexia, he's got ADHD, and then there's Nancy Bobofit.
Nancy Bobofit appeared in front of me with her ugly friends—I guess she’d gotten tired of stealing from the tourists—and dumped her half-eaten lunch in Grover’s lap.
“Oops.” She grinned at me with her crooked teeth. Her freckles were orange, as if somebody had spray-painted her face with liquid Cheetos.
Nancy Bobofit is not a major character in the book. I have to mention her because her character resounded with me. I had my own Nancy Bobofit back in grade school, only her name is Mimi. Nearly 2 decades later, the memory of her horrible face still makes me shudder. But I digress.
As if the bullies aren't bad enough, his dad is a no-show, his stepfather is LITERALLY named Ugli, and there are crones foretelling Percy's death as well as a minotaur chasing his ass around. AND NOBODY'S TELLING HIM A SINGLE FUCKING THING. What's with all the secrecy, man?
As it turned out, Percy is *whispers* special. He is a half-blood, meaning one of his parents is a Greek deity. He gets sent to Camp Half-Blood, with roughly 100 other kids like him.
It's a freaky place for a kid who's known nothing but relative normalcy his entire life. All of a sudden, he's playing Pinochle with a Greek God (Dionysus---what a drunk), his best friend Grover turns out to be a satyr, and the gorgeous blond girl who rescues him thinks he's a doofus and she keeps calling him "seaweed brain."
To be fair, Percy had it coming. He is kind of a seaweed brain.
"Another time, Athena and Poseidon competed to be the patron god for the city of Athens. Your dad created some stupid saltwater spring for his gift. My mom created the olive tree. The people saw that her gift was better, so they named the city after her.”
“They must really like olives.”
“Oh, forget it.”
“Now, if she’d invented pizza—that I could understand.”
“I said, forget it!”
Not your best moment, Percy.
As it turned out, Percy IS special. His dad is one of the Big Three gods. Which kind of sucks, because that's not supposed to happen.
“About sixty years ago, after World War II, the Big Three agreed they wouldn’t sire any more heroes. Their children were just too powerful."
A lot of people would think it was pretty cool to have such a powerful dad...not really.
Now that I was declared a son of one of the Big Three gods who weren’t supposed to have kids, I figured it was a crime for me just to be alive.
Not only does Percy have to struggle to fit in at Camp Half-Blood, but there's some shit going on in Mount Olympus. The gods are fighting again (when are they not)...
"During the winter solstice, at the last council of the gods, Zeus and Poseidon had an argument. The usual nonsense: ‘Mother Rhea always liked you best,’ ‘Air disasters are more spectacular than sea disasters,’ et cetera."
...and consequently, like a brother playing a prank on his younger siblings, someone's stuff was stolen. And Zeus thinks that his bro, Poseidon, put Percy up to it.
Of course, blame the poor kid. Now Percy is shit out of luck YET AGAIN, and he's got no choice but to go on this huge stupid quest into the underworld (Los Angeles, ha!) to clear his name.
He's not alone, he's accompanied by the snarky, gorgeous, fiercely competent Annabeth (she of the seaweed brain name-calling), as well as the most incompetent satyr that ever lived.
In his pocket was a set of reed pipes his daddy goat had carved for him, even though he only knew two songs: Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 12 and Hilary Duff’s “So Yesterday,” both of which sounded pretty bad on reed pipes.
It's going to be a loooooooong trip to the Underworld.
The Setting: THIS. THIS IS HOW YOU DO GREEK MYTHOLOGY. I am a Greek mythology buff. I FUCKING LOVED THIS BOOK. This book is just absolutely fucking perfect in every way when it comes to rewriting and reinterpreting the Greek pantheon. It is so hilariously, awesomely irreverent, but completely fitting. The gods are reimagined, but they stay true to their true nature, and the myths are retold in a cheeky, flippant manner that had me giggling my ass off. This book is so fantastically snarky to the Greek gods. Everything is incredibly well-explained to a lay audience, like how the Greek gods can't seem to keep it in their pants.
Annabeth nodded. “Your father isn’t dead, Percy. He’s one of the Olympians.”
“Is it? What’s the most common thing gods did in the old stories? They ran around falling in love with humans and having kids with them. Do you think they’ve changed their habits in the last few millennia?”
And apparently, the habit runs true for both male and female goddesses.
“What? You assume it has to be a male god who finds a human female attractive? How sexist is that?”
The existence of Greek gods and goddesses themselves are well explained, and believable.
“Come now, Percy. What you call ‘Western civilization.’ Do you think it’s just an abstract concept? No, it’s a living force. A collective consciousness that has burned bright for thousands of years. The gods are part of it."
"Did the West die? The gods simply moved, to Germany, to France, to Spain, for a while. Wherever the flame was brightest, the gods were there. They spent several centuries in England. All you need to do is look at the architecture. People do not forget the gods."
I had my doubts about the execution of the premise of Greek mythology, and all my doubts have been destroyed. his book does great justice to the Greek gods, it is the most faithful rendition than I have ever read.
The Characters: Yes, Percy is a special snowflake, but HELL, I LOVED THE LITTLE SHIT. He's got a special destiny. He is a special child. I DON'T CARE. Percy is such a sympathetic character, and although he won't be replacing Harry Potter in my heart any time soon, there is a special spot for him. He can give up pretty fast. He's kind of a wimp, but you know, finding out that you're a hald-blooded demigod is kind of a big deal, and I understand his attitude of "GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE."
I didn’t know what else to do. I waved back.
“Don’t encourage them,” Annabeth warned. “Naiads are terrible flirts.”
“Naiads,” I repeated, feeling completely overwhelmed. “That’s it. I want to go home now.”
He doesn't really want to do anything big. He's pretty stupid sometimes (Auntie Em, geez), he's not exactly heroic. He only does the heroic shit when there are no other options.
“All right,” I said. “It’s better than being turned into a dolphin.”
I loved Annabeth, she is all I could want from a female supporting character. I can't say that I'm fond of Grover...but I can't help feeling that we'll be seeing more of him in the future.
“But a quest to . . .” Grover swallowed. “I mean, couldn’t the master bolt be in some place like Maine? Maine’s very nice this time of year.”
Overall: a fantastic book. A good middle grade book makes you feel like a child again, and this book did just the trick. I found myself giggling throughout the book, and an hour after reading it, there's still a smile on my face that can't be wiped off.