Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Exception to the Rules

I'm always a little wary of writing book blogs. Most people only advocate books they like on their blogs, and so it's fairly easy to determine how the post will go. I have chosen to write this one because, well, this is more then just a good book to me, it's an exception to a rule I've learned to hate. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

You know how in children's literature, whenever a new sensation comes through, critics label it the "new Harry Potter?" I hate that. First I wonder why they can't just let new authors be great on their own, and second, I hate Harry Potter. I shan't bore you with the details in this post (cause I did a post on it a few years ago) and I think most people are already sick of my Harry Potter rant.

But I will say this much; as far as my literary experiences go, Harry Potter was the book that made this awful rule.

What is this rule I keep alluding to you may ask? Well I will tell you.

Whenever a children's author starts writing a series, and they become a JK Rowling-esque sensation, they start something wonderful. Their books are alluring and exciting, I usually get really into it, and then the final book of the series comes out. By this time, the author is famous and has made lots of money, and they get lazy. The last book in their Earth-shattering series sucks.

It sucks so much it ruins the rest of the series. It becomes a book I throw down in disgust and any time someone brings it up, I roll my eyes and can't bear to think of how that author shattered my hopes and dreams for their work. It happened with Harry Potter, it happened with Twilight (don't hate me Jaima), it happened with Eragon (actually I barely made it through book one). These series pull you in and then ultimately disappoint you.

I know not everyone feels the same way as I do about the above titles. I can't tell you how many arguments I've had with my die-hard Harry Potter friends, or how many times my sister has tried to convince me to finish Twilight, but it's all been in vain. I felt let down with these books, the authors let their ideas spin out of control in a way I couldn't stand, and suffice it to say, if my cousin starts crying during Breaking Dawn, not because it's so moving but because it's so terrible, I don't want to read it.

A month and a half ago, my brother turned 16. For his birthday, he asked my parents for the book series pictured in the blog; Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan. He read them with a ferocious intensity that surprised me, and then started hounding me to read them. I was shocked, normally I'm the one making him read stuff. Still, I gave it a try.

Book One, The Lightning Thief excited me. I drank in every word Rick Riordan wrote. I laughed, I cried, I was enthralled. But I was wary, I felt the same way about Harry Potter when I was a kid. I'm working on my own book and preparing for rejection right now, the last thing I need is to be let down by an awful book that's made it to print.

Still, I read the next, The Sea of Monsters. If anyone watches my reading list on the side of the page (which you probably don't), you'd of noticed how quickly I went through all five books. Or rather, the first four.

By the time I finished The Battle of the Labyrinth, I was completely immersed. I loved all the characters, I was so inspired, I was nearing the end and I was worrying about what I would do after Percy Jackson ended, but, I was still scared.

I started The Last Olympian with trepidation. After reading the first chapter I chickened out and left it alone for three days. Then, I decided I would have to face it. I would either torment myself not knowing or torment myself with what happened. If it was truly terrible, I could always put it down. I've done that so many times before.

I read it. I kept reading it. I laughed. I cried. I was on the edge of my seat. I drank it in right to the end. I could only think of minor things I would change rather then the whole book. It was fabulous!

I finished The Last Olympian on Tuesday. I was amazed at how nicely it all wound up, completing the story in it's entirety and just beautifully written. And I mean, completely masterful, this guy is amazing with words.

So now I have it, my exception to the rules. My series that didn't break my heart in the end. Read it!

And now, for those of you who are taking me seriously, I will tell you a little:

The idea behind Percy Jackson and the Olympians is that ancient Greek mythology is real. In modern day they still exist, and follow the heart of Western civilization (so Mount Olympus is over the Empire State building, Apollo's Sun chariot is a Masserati, blah, blah, blah). And what did Greek gods do in all the myths? Have children with mortals! The main character is one of these demigods, and he and his demigod friends go around on adventures like Hercules, Achilles and Odysseus.

As a huge mythology geek, I love the premise of these books. I love seeing all the monsters they face and remembering the myths they were really in. And it's so accurate, not like Disney's version of Hercules which, though funny always sends me running to find my book of Greek myths so I can make myself feel better after. These books are true to the myths I love.

Not only that, but the author just combines the mythology with pop culture so well. Normally attempts to do so are just annoying, but these, are funny. For example, I don't want to spoil much but when Percy goes down to the Underworld, he looks over the Fields of Punishment, and I quote:

"We could see people suffering all kinds of eternal torment, like being burned at the stake, or chased by hellhounds, or forced to listen to opera music."

I love it! He not only includes pop culture, he enters the mind of a teenage boy. Read it! I's going on my favourite books of all time list.


Katey said...

Although your taste in regards to HP is sorely lacking (hee hee!) in other matters i generally trust your literary judgement. I've heard of this series and I'll read it as soon as you return my copy of Inkspell.

reddmummy said...

I will read this series if you finish Breaking Dawn. Don't let Mikyla ruin it for you. I love it, love it, love it.