One book series I have always enjoyed reading is Percy Jackson and the Olympians, or PJO for short, written by Rick Riordan. It has a simple premise: Greek Mythology is alive and well, and roaming through New York City and elsewhere on a day-to-day basis. But as the books continue, you realize that this series is much deeper and more intriguing than it seems at first glance.
Book 1: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (2005)
This is the first book in the series, and acts as an introduction to the world of modern Demigods, a.k.a. The “Riordanverse”. We start by meeting the main character, Percy Jackson, and are shortly introduced to multiple characters, such as Grover Underwood, Percy’s best friend, Mr. Brunner, the ‘cool’ history teacher at Yancy Academy, the school Percy goes to, and Nancy Bobofit, the class bully.
As the first chapters continue, we listen to a recounting of who, exactly, Percy Jackson believes he is. However, weird things start happening on a class field trip, and Percy starts to think about all the strange things that have happened to him throughout his life. And on the way back to his apartment at the end of the year, he sees something… strange. Something he can’t quite understand.
As the story goes on, we meet a plethora of characters: Sally Jackson, Percy’s mother, Gabe Ugliano, (yes that’s his real name) his jerk step-father, Annabeth Chase, a blond-haired brainiac daughter of Athena, and many more. Identities are revealed, such as Grover being a Satyr, and monsters are fought. An oracle gives a mysterious quest, three are chosen, and a crazy adventure ensues. At the end of the day(er, book), everything ends out ok… or does it…
Book 2: The Sea of Monsters (2006)
This book starts off with a foreboding dream of Grover, Percy’s best friend, running from something, muttering about how he needs to warn them about something. After a chase, Percy wakes with a start. His mom calls him out of bed for his last day of school, and after a breakfast of blue eggs and waffles, he goes down to class. Here we meet Tyson, a homeless kid whom Percy and his Mom have a soft spot for, Matt Sloan, the school bully at Merriweather academy, and a few others.
After a monster attack during PE, with Annabeth showing up and, along with Tyson and Percy, taking out the monsters, they hitch a ride to Camp Half-Blood on the Chariot of Damnation and discover that not all is going well at Camp. A poisoned pine tree, a careless new head counselor, and many other things, and Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson have to sneak onto a monster-infested cruise ship to find Grover, the Golden Fleece, and, most importantly, the answers to what is happening around them.
As the book continues, we see the questers defeat countless monsters and win the day! However, at the end of the book, something happens. Something… strange.
Book 3: The Titan’s Curse (2007)
A few months after SOM, we see Percy, Annabeth, and Thalia Grace, daughter of Zeus, head to a military school where Grover has found two new demigods: Nico and Bianca di Angelo, children of Hades.
After a surprise encounter with a Manticore ending with Annabeth getting kidnapped, the gang is saved by Artemis, goddess of the Hunt. Bianca becomes a hunter and they get a ride to camp in Apollo’s Maserati/Magic School Bus/Sun Chariot. Once there, they get a Prophecy from the Oracle while playing Capture-the-Flag, and leave on a quest with the team of 5 being Percy, Grover, Bianca, Thalia, and Zoë Nightshade.
Along the way to save Annabeth and Artemis, who was also kidnapped a bit after Annabeth, they encounter living skeletons, (the human and kitty cat kind) monsters of all shapes and sizes, gods and goddesses, and much more. Once they find Annabeth, they fight an intense battle, with Percy having to hold up the sky, Luke Castellean (who’s evil btw) making an appearance and going hand-to-hand combat, knife on sword, and Zoё being tragically killed by her own father, the Titan Atlas, when defending Artemis, her leader. The battle seems to be taking a turn for the worse, however, when hundreds of monsters march up from Luke’s cruise ship. Hope seems lost, when… Well, you’ll have to read the book to see what happens!
Book 4: Battle of the Labyrinth (2008)
In this book, we start with Percy going to see a new school he’s going to- Goode High School, where Sally Jackson’s boyfriend(and Percy’s future step-dad), Paul Blofis, works as a teacher. However, it wasn’t meant to be, as Percy gets ambushed by two Empousa, the entire band room at Goode explodes in flame, with Percy fleeing to Camp Half-Blood. When there, they meet Quintus, the new combat instructor, and Mrs. O’Leary, his tamed Hellhound.
After introducing himself to the duo, Percy heads to lunch. Afterwards, before Capture-the-Flag, Annabeth and Grover show up at his cabin, and they discuss what they need to do: Plan a quest into the Labyrinth. After a near-fatal game of CtF, they receive a prophecy from the Oracle and set off in a group of 4: Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and Tyson. They meet gods, monsters, and demigods, face tough trials, and traverse the confusing territory of the labyrinth.
Some of the challenges faced are as follows: Percy facing the 3-bodied rancher, Geryon, in battle, Annabeth facing a Sphinx in a duel of intellect, Grover and Tyson tracking down Pan, god of the Wild, and Percy taking on a near-immortal gladiator in an arena of earth, and the gang + Nico di Angelo and Quintus, now revealed to be Daedalus, taking on a whole horde of monsters in the center of the Labyrinth.
They see Luke taken over by Kronos and almost kill Percy (it’s ok though Rachel Elizabeth Dare [a mortal who can see through the Mist] hits Kronos in the eye with a hairbrush), and Percy almost dies again after exploding Mt. Saint Helens to kill the Telkhines trying to kill him and let Annabeth get away, and ends up releasing Typhon, a massive giant that can destroy the gods. At the end of the book, Daedalus sacrifices himself to destroy the Labyrinth, and the majority of Kronos’s forces along with it.
Book 5: The Last Olympian (2010)
The final book in the series, the finale of this quintuplet of books, The Last Olympian is a fast-paced, incredible last book for this series. It has all our favorite characters in a group of battles to the finish, with events such as Percy taking a dip in the River Styx to give him immortality, Charles Beckendorf, son of Hephestus, sacrificing himself to destroy the Princess Andromeda, Kronos’s main attack force, in a fiery explosion, Percy going blade-to-blade in a battle against Hyperion, Titan of light, and weakening him enough that the Satyrs could turn him into a massive oak tree in Central Park, Silena Beauregard and Clarisse La Rue, daughters of Aphrodite and Ares respectively taking on the drakon that Kronos released on Manhattan and killing it, and Annabeth going hand-to-hand, scythe-on-knife against Kronos himself, and Luke making the bravest choice of using Annabeth’s knife to kill himself, effectively killing Kronos as well, and saving the world with one choice.
In conclusion, this series is amazing, and you should really read it. Rick Riordan is still putting out books today, with his most recent series, Trials of Apollo, finished up last fall. (I would recommend reading this series before that one, though.) Other series I recommend for kids my age (12+) are:
- Aru Shah (Roshani Chokshi, 2018)
- Kane Chronicles (Rick Riordan, 2010)
- Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (Rick Riordan, 2015)
- Keeper of the Lost Cities (Shannon Messenger, 2012)
- Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling, 1997)
(Dates are when the first book was released)
Thank you for reading!