Monday, November 16, 2015

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Rating: WARTY!

I started listening to Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief this past weekend and this morning. It's pretty bad and very much a rip-off of Harry Potter. It's like cut-price Greek mythology - set in America no less - meets Harry Potter. There's even a wand, after a fashion - it's Zeus's lightning bolt. Someone stole it and evidently the gods are, as usual, utterly incapable of discovering who took it or where it is. For reasons unexplained, they zero-in on Percy Jackson, who is, unbeknownst to him, the son of not only his mother, but also Zeus's brother Poseidon, who's been banned by Zeus from seeing his son. The Greek gods were the original dysfunctional family.

In order to protect Percy from unspecified potential enemies, his mom evidently had no other choice than to take-up residence with a disgusting guy who abuses her to a caricatured degree, mentally and physically. Evidently his smell is powerful enough to hide Percy from enemies who are evidently as dumb as the gods. Percy attends a special private school, although who pays for this goes unspecified. The only thing taught at the school, it would seem, is ancient Greek mythology, and Latin. Why Latin, I have no idea whatsoever. No Roman gods are involved in this story! I studied Latin for two years in high school and got nothing out of it other than a better understanding of English, which I could have arrived at in far less painful ways, trust me!

As is typical for this magical child trope, Percy, like Potter, grows up in pain and is kept in ignorance about his true origin and nature. Like Potter, he's bullied at school, and he's been told that he suffers from ADHD and dyslexia. He discovers he can read ancient Greek with no trouble, but plain modern English escapes him. I never knew that was what dyslexia was all about! Wow!

I was having a hard time getting into the story, mostly because Percy was incredibly stupid and blind, and the mythology had been dumbed-down to childish levels presumably to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I had quite liked the movie, which despite its flaws, was considerably better than the novel. It was tighter, smarter, better told, and more 'sensible', although it still fell short of being truly good.

The movie changed a few significant things, too - such as Percy saving Grover from the minotaur in the book, which was changed to Grover saving Percy in the movie; then came the second movie which sucked! This morning, I decided that this first novel was very much of the same nature as the second movie, and I skipped to the last couple of disks figuring I could skim through those before I drop it off at the library this afternoon. It's gone, girl!

My conviction that this novel would never improve and would be just as bad at the end as it was at the beginning, was fully confirmed and amplified upon. After hearing the guy who was reading this story pronounce Charon as Karen as opposed to Care - on, and discovering that Kerberos (not pronounced with a K, but begun with a 'ser' - as in Ser-bian in this novel), and discovering that this fierce guardian of hell was really just a puppy who liked to chase balls, I had pretty much heard all I could stand. I never like Annabeth in the movie (she was better in True Detective), and I liked her just as little in the novel. And why was she named Annabeth? She's the daughter of a Greek God and she's named with a Hebrew name? Grover is a Satyr, and gets an English name?!

This author has no respect for the mythology and dumbs it down incredibly. What in the name of the gods inspired him to take Greek mythology and then divorce it entirely from Greece and set it in the USA? What logic or rationale is behind that? Obviously none. The Empire State Building is Olympus? It's really saddening that he trashed and cheapened some fine mythology instead of fully capitalizing on it. On the other hand, he has a best-selling franchise from treating his readers like they deserve nothing better, so maybe the rest of us should jump on this bandwagon and start turning out equally careless LCD novels? I honestly don't l think I can do that, and I certainly can't recommend this as a worthy read. The grpahic novle is no better. I posted a negative review of that in June of 2017.