Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #14. This time we visit a book series loved by fandom and normal people alike. Not that people in fandoms aren’t normal people… Umm… Right…
Oh, Uncle Rick. How you weave a web of mythos, as if to fashion a cloak out of the spidery threads you use to make your plots. I can’t think of a better example of tween-teen mutation (technical term, right there) than this series. “But Jester,” you chorus in your voice which sounds suspiciously like mine in an empty room. “What’s tween-teen mutation?” Ah, my young grasshopper, you have much to learn. Tween-teen mutation is when a series is written by an author (usually a parent) who is writing their novels specifically for a person in their lives, an IRL counterpart, who they wish to mentor. The story then has the main character start out at the same age as the little tyke who is lucky enough to have a fictional role-model, and the novel is written. Then the book becomes an instant hit. There just has to be a sequel. But the tyke isn’t 12 anymore, he’s 13. So the protagonist is now 13. A year passes in book-time, and the story is just that much more mature. Again, another bestseller. The public demands another sequel. The cycle continues.
It gets to the point where 6-7 books onward, the little tyke isn’t little any more. The book series has continued getting “older” until it is almost grimdark, and there is even sometimes a face-heel turn, where the protagonist goes a bit evil, starts kicking some serious good-guy hiney, and then has an “ohmygodohmygodwhathaveIdone” moment. There might even be a reference to sex. Even if very, very obscured. And then you read the first one again and the change hits you like a slap to the face. That’s tween-teen mutation. And Percy Jackson is a fine example of this. With a good novelist, this mutation can be attributed to character development. But it’s all-too-obvious to the true fans.
Percy Jackson, which started off as a cute little novel with a kick-ass backstory is now a slightly-less-cute and way more badass tribute to one [two!] of the greatest ancient civilisations of all time. The awesome characters, the gutsy plot lines and the really weird stuff that happens behind the fanfic curtain (which I frequently browse through with a bowl of fruit, currently grapes but sometimes a banana or some apple slices 😉 ), the Percy Jackson fandom is one worth mentioning.
Oh, and one last comment on the style! The author adopts the perspective of the main character, which is somewhat irritating and a little grinding on the delivery. But aww, isn’t his enthusiasm really, really endearing? If it wasn’t for the fact that I respect the character so much ([really, taking down the god of war single-handedly? Yes!]), I would hate this style. But goddamn it, Uncle Rick! He’s so good at giving the fandom what they want. And that doesn’t mean just shoving Mr/Miss Fanservice down our throats (though that is where we would want them, among elsewhere…).
The Lightning Thief was published in 2005 by Disney Hyperion. It can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear