Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Sea of Monsters" by Rick Riordan

Summary: In the second book of the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, Percy finds himself drawn into trouble again as he's attacked on his last day of school.  Escaping with the help of his friend Annabeth (from book one) and a new friend, the giant and powerful Tyson, Percy returns to Camp Half-Blood.  There he learns that the camp is in trouble, and he and his friends must again embark on a quest to save the camp and their friend Grover.

Musings: I probably wouldn't have jumped straight into the second Percy Jackson book, but I didn't have anything good from the library, so I started anyway.  Riordan is nothing if not consistent, and the second book in the series follows the same structure and plot as the original.  It unfortunately also shares the same flaws, which I was perhaps more aware of as I'd just finished the first book and was expecting them.

This book takes a lot from the Odyssey.  I like the breadth from which Riordan takes his mythological history, but at the same time, in this book I felt the references were more repetition than invention.  It's one thing to cleverly weave mythology into a modern young adult adventure, but it's another to repeat essentially the same stories with a young adult hero instead of the original mythological characters.  The characters' experiences with Circe and the Cyclops, especially, felt dull for this reason.

A young adult audience (at least pre-9th grade) might be familiar with basic Olympian mythology, but likely would not have read the Odyssey yet, so they probably wouldn't have experienced the same feelings I did.  I'm typically not a "know your classics!" stickler, but if Riordan's offering nothing new to the stories, I find it a little disheartening to know kids are reading a parody without knowing the original.  In fact, in class last week, we were reading book nine of the Odyssey together (the Cyclops episode) and when we got to the "Nobody" name trick, one student exclaimed, "Oh, that's from Percy Jackson!".  No, that's from Homer.

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear. "That's from Percy Jackson!" gives me shivers. I feel the same way when I read derivative fantasy (I KNOW it's from Tolkien, you thieving wretch, you!), but I think yours beats that out, hands down. Hopefully your kids have it the right way around by the time you're done with them! :)

    That said, I can't wait to read this one...