This is a series wherein I will discuss whatever book I’m reading or have just finished. Feel free to post in the comments what you’re reading or your own thoughts about the books I discuss.
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
I am reading Book 2 in the series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, at the request of A-Read. Last summer he read the first book, The Lightning Thief, and I read it more or less simultaneously. We had a lot of fun discussing it together, so when he finished The Sea of Monsters, he requested I read it, too.
These are middle-grade (MG) books about a boy named Percy who thinks he is the dyslexic, troubled son of a single mother. It turns out that he is also the son of Greek god Poseidon, and that there are other half-bloods in the US, constantly fighting mythological monsters for their very survival. It also turns out that his dyslexia is a common trait among half-bloods and that all those monsters were responsible for him being kicked out of school after school.
In the first book, Percy sets out on a quest to retrieve Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt of power with his friends, Annabeth – a daughter of Athena – and Grover – a satyr. In this second book, both Grover and Camp Half-Blood are in trouble, and Percy and Annabeth will attempt to save them.
I have three MG manuscripts on a shelf, so I relish this opportunity to pick apart a popular MG book and figure out what makes it so good. I believe there are many qualities that make the Percy Jackson books so successful – qualities they share with the Harry Potter books.
These books are action-packed, epic and funny.
Percy never has long to ponder what he’ll do next or why something is happening. As soon as he sits on the beach to figure out how he feels about all that’s happening, a stranger in jogging shorts comes out of nowhere to give him advice and gifts (like a thermos filled with the four winds).
Percy, like Harry, has heroic qualities that kids can either relate to or that they wish they had. No matter what stands against him (the god Ares, cannibalistic giants, or a half-blood former camper with wicked sword skills), Percy will do whatever it takes to save his friends and his mother.
Characters are funny, through their dialogue and actions, and are sometimes put in humorous situations. For example (A-Read shared this during a car trip), Percy tells his Cyclops sidekick, Tyson, to find them some donuts in the wilderness surrounding their tent, mostly to get Tyson out of the way so he can talk to Annabeth. Tyson leaves the tent calling, “Donuts. Donuts! Where are you, Donuts?” (Or words to that effect.) A-Read thought that was pretty hysterical.
So, what are some of your favorite MG reads and what makes them so special?