Tuesday, March 28, 2017


This often intriguing novel (ISBN 9780786838653) is the first book in a "Young Adult" series called Percy Jackson & the Olympians.  I approached this one with trepidation, if only because EVERYONE was telling me to read it, and we all know how that came out when I allowed myself to be pressured into reading other wildly popular titles like (gag) THE DA VINCI CODE.  This was a substantially better read, especially for a YA title.  However, as a recruitment manual I am not at all sure I can recommend it.  Allow me to explain:



>> This is at least the story of an alienated youth who finds a sense of rightness in his life when he finally gets in touch with his piscatorial side. 

>> I love the way the central character, Percy Jackson, bounces back from any adversity if he just gets in the water.  Any of us knows the restorative feeling of getting wet, or even getting close to the water, when we are overcome with the strain of trying to draw humans into the sea while being trapped up on dry land ourselves.  As they used to say in the 1970s when I was still human, I can really relate to that.

>> At no point do the Fish People in this story come across as monstrous or even weird.  Nice change of pace.

>> I like the way it's the water itself that makes Percy feel more powerful.  That's, you know, accurate. 

>> I like that they make clear that at this point in the story, Percy is only half-human and still he is feeling all these powerful effects from getting wet. 

>> He also makes the most of his hemi-demi-semi-humanity, if that a word; like the best landfish operatives, he makes good use of his land and his water sides without feeling he has to sacrifice either one.

>> Poseidon is a decent parallel to Dagon, Whose Roiling Intestine we will all occupy in wonder and glory.  This guy does seem kind of approachable and reassuring, at least as human-created deities go.


>> How is this kid living in and around New York City for twelve years -- a city built on a chain of islands, with water just a stone's throw away at all times -- without realizing that he is what he is?  There's something terribly wrong there. 

>> What's with all the drama?  Percy can't just walk into the water and never come out again, like the rest of us?  Here he is flying around on his ass practically making miracles happen -- defeating monsters with only a ballpoint pen, bargaining and pulling strings with deities and generally doing things that are humanly impossible.  I don't want young fish gals getting that kind of loopy expectation.

>> This nonsense about behavior problems and ADHD being a sign that you're actually not human -- in fact, way better than human -- is beyond ridiculous.  All a diagnosis of ADHD means is that you ARE human who's missing out, and that you need to lay off the video games and stop acting like a dumbass.  And this part of the story creates another false expectation in overly impressionable children.  We want them to think of themselves as Shiners and Carp, not frikkin' demigods with supernatural powers that would make a Moray laugh.

>> Which brings me to the clincher: Where are all the fish in this story?  Huh?  At one point, Percy had a conversation with a Zebra and I immediately thought, hey, a conversation with a Goldfish can't be far behind!  But it never happened.  Again, this is a kid who's lived in a major city all his life, surrounded by not only seawater, but filled with pet stores, fish markets, oyster bars, you name it...And apparently he's never communicated in any way with a fish.  We never see him eat one.  So much is made of the tin cans eaten by his friend the satyr, but Percy just eats whatever's put in front of him without noticing, only leaning towards blue foods because it's a private joke he has with his mom.  Who's a human.

>>  The fact that this entire story swings on the ancient storylines of the Greek gods gives me the willies.  Percy is apparently not only a character in one of those stories, but a guy whose life has been lived out many times, always following exactly the same storyline.  His friend the satyr tells us so.  So is this guy a piscatorial demigod in life after life who never figures out until someone tells him that he can turn to the powers of a glass of water to make his life right?  Did he not grow up in a place with a bathtub, a shower head, a faucet strategically placed here and there?

While I can't quibble with the idea of a young person finding his true destiny in the water, I find it a little hard to swallow that it took the son of Poseidon until his early teens to notice that he had a special relationship with the local Clams, Goldfish and Basking Sharks.  Maybe it's not ADHD.  Maybe he's just lame.  Or maybe this story was just written by a Homo sap. with no real grasp of what it's like to be fundamentally allied, from birth, with the water and its residents.


Post a Comment

<< Home