My Review of the PJO & HOO Books

Ayah Altalhouni - January 24th - 4 min read

You might have heard about the new Disney+ show on Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and you might have also heard about how it’s a sort of redemption to the movies they made.Personally, I thought the movies were horrible, because when I watched them in anticipation, I left confused. The public agrees as well! The rotten tomato score of The Lightning Thief was a wonderful 48%! But the series seems to be coming along nicely with a rotten tomatoes score of 97%! Well, no matter how good or bad these shows come out, the books will always be first and foremost in my heart.

I’ve read the Percy Jackson books, and their sequel series the Heroes of Olympus over 6 times…I’m sorry, but I love these books. Now how I got introduced to them, and the way I read them is a bit weird. My elementary librarian/music teacher was getting rid of a bunch of books and she gave me some, one which was The Lost Hero, the first book in the second series. I didn’t really know that much English to read such an intimidating novel back then, so it sat in my basement for over a year. One day though, my family was going on a road trip to Calgary, and then to Banff. I decided to take The Lost Hero with me to read in the car. I doubted I was going to read it, but boredom got the better of me, and I picked it up and began to read. I didn’t have an iPad or a phone to keep me entertained, and in fact, I didn’t get a phone till I graduated highschool. My parents are strict in that way, and aren’t tolerant when it comes to technology. The Lost Hero was the first legit book I ever read that wasn’t a picture book. This book was a sort of revelation for me, and introduced me to the wonders of reading. I didn’t know that reading could be like a movie being played in my head. I loved it! I finished the book on that road trip, just as we were pulling back into Edmonton. It was dark, and all my siblings were asleep. But I finished that book with a smile, and an imaginary celebration in the back seat of our van. I was so proud of myself, and couldn’t wait to get the second book of the series to continue reading.

Now, the problem is, I didn’t really understand the significance of the protagonist Percy Jackson, because I didn’t read the first series. SPOILER ALERT, I didn’t understand the gravity of him being missing in The Lost Hero, and the anticipation of his comeback in The Son of Neptune. So regrettably, I didn’t get the full experience reading The Lost Hero, with the background knowledge of how much of a legend Percy is. When I started grade 8 (I read the Lost Hero during the summer of 2017, 2 years after I initially got it), my favourite English teacher of all time had the remaining books, and I read them religiously. It took all of my first semester to read The Son of Neptune, and my teacher let me take The Mark of Athena over the winter break. After the break, I finished The House of Hades, and over the summer, I finished The Blood of Olympus. The mix of Greek and Roman mythology in The Heroes of Olympus was really interesting, and I loved the mix of POV’s with each chapter on the focus characters of each book.

From The Heroes of Olympus, my favourite character is Leo, the class clown with the tragic backstory, hiding his trauma through laughter. He is also a genius, who made the quest possible, and SPOILER ALERT, saved the world. He does die at the end though, technically. My least favourite character is Piper, because she seemed really annoying to me. She is a great character, don't get me wrong, and contributed a lot to the 7, but for me, her obsession and jealousy towards Jason wasn’t something I was interested in. When it came to her POV, it was my least favourite chapter to read. It was kinda dull, and just not my vibe. Piper does have an interesting story too, though, and it’s not like I hate her, it’s just she doesn’t make my list of favourites. She is the daughter of a rich actor in Malibu, and a troubled teen like the rest of the demigods. She steals things she doesn’t need to get her father’s attention. She has the power of charmspeak, where her voice holds power and persuasion, a gift from her goddess mother Aphrodite. Throughout the series, she becomes more confident in herself, and develops a sense of self, and amplifies her voice for good. Another SPOILER ALERT, the seven great demigods in the Heroes of Olympus tasked with saving the world another time are: Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo, Hazel, and Frank. Nico and Reyna are honorary demigod members later on during their great quest. But focusing more on the plot, it was really good, and the probably the most amazing thing is when Percy and Annabeth fell into Tartarus, where no demigod came out alive. Not only did they survive like the legends they are, but also showed us how seemingly bad people can be good and help out on the way. Shout out to you Bob, you will be remembered.

Now for Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I read the series during the pandemic in 2020 along with Harry Potter for the first time, but that’s another blog. I loved the PJO, and loved reading the series with the background knowledge of the following series. Percy is a true legend, and capable of things the rest of the characters would seem impossible. In the first book, Percy’s mother dying really made me cry. She was an amazing human being, and secretly wished she could be my mother. But when Percy, Annabeth, and Grover return the Helm of Darkness to Hades he brings her back. Now I should retrace my steps, but Sally Jackson never died, but we all thought that at first. In reality, she was kidnapped as bait by Hades. Hades isn’t necessarily a bad guy, as we learn in the series, but just a shunned and ignored god filled with petty resentment against demigods. But he is on the good side against the major enemy, Kronos. The whole story of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, is that Kronos the Lord of Titans is rising again, and is being revived by Luke Castellan who hates the Olympians and wants to destroy them. The problem with Luke is that he was Annabeth’s hero, and saved her when she was a little 8 year old lost, and took her along with their friend Thalia. Thalia died sacrificing herself for Luke and Annabeth, but her father, Zeus, turns her into a tree protecting Camp Half-Blood. Luke later becomes a traitor after he decides to side with Kronos, and steals the master bolt and giving it to Ares (who only wanted to start a war, and didn’t actually care about Kronos or is a bad guy in the bigger sense of things), and then Ares gives it secretly to Percy without him knowing framing him. Luke also poisoned Thalia’s tree, causing the protection to falter, and the tree to start dying. Annabeth and Percy go on another quest to save the tree, and when they do, Thalia actually comes back to life. Which is shocking to everyone, even Luke. Now the reason Luke turned a traitor is because he believed the Olympians don’t care about their children, just using them when they need anything and to die for them. Most demigods are actually unclaimed, therefore unacknowledged. This bitter feeling makes him want an end to Olympus, and Kronos uses his resentment to his advantage. Luke recruits more demigods who hate and resent their known or unknown parents. They build an army with other monsters, and the final book is an ultimate battle between this army, the demigods, and the revived Titans. Percy ends up beating Kronos, is offered immortality, rejects it, and stays at Camp-Half Blood and becomes Annabeth’s girlfriend, and they all live happily ever after. Or do they…

Overall, these books are just so good. Rick Riordan did a really good job in immersing the reader into the PJO world. Sort of why everyone loves Harry Potter. You feel like you’re a demigod yourself. Personally, I identified myself with the goddess of Athena, and wanted to be just like Annabeth. She was my favourite character in the Percy Jackson series, and I admired how instead of having special powers like the rest of the demigods, she used her brains and strength to her advantage instead. Growing up, and to this day, I wasn’t considered the pretty girl, or the social girl. I was the lonely quiet girl, who got straight As. Nobody wanted to make an effort to be my friend. I didn’t have friends who were labelled as the smart one like I was. I felt alone, and seeing Annabeth being labelled as the smart one, and dealing with all her personal issues made me feel seen. I put myself in her shoes, and she inspired me to be more confident in myself. To depend on something I value, which is knowledge.

I recommend you to read these books. They changed my life, and even if they don’t for you, you won’t walk away disappointed. You will develop a relationship with each character and invest yourself into the events. Even though I love Harry Potter, I love Rick Riordan’s work even more. His books fueled my love for history, and introduced me to Ancient History. You are actually learning a lot about Ancient Greece and Rome, which is an extra bonus