Honorary 4.5 stars
One of the joys of being the eldest sibling in my family is now having my twelve year old sister want to read good YA and children's stories. She's reading those books I used to love (and those which I still do). So when I completed my re-read of the first Percy Jackson novel I gave it to her and since she liked it I borrowed the second for her, and then read it again myself. I was pulled back into the world and saw a greater depth to the novel than my memories so I personally rated it up a star.
Now the one thing you need to understand about my reading habits is this. I don't necessarily like a book because it's popular. I'll read what I think sounds interesting. I'm still avoiding Harry Potter because I don't want to give into the hype surrounding it. I read The Hunger Games before it became unnecessarily hyped up and I also read these before I knew they were meant to be the new popular best-sellers. I try and avoid hyped up books for their own sake because of two main reasons: 1) I don't ever want to read a book simply because of peer pressure and 2) While there is a high degree of emotion in regards to how I view books I never want to like a book solely because it 'was awesome'.
When Twilight was popular I knew it was a book to avoid because I never heard 'it was really well written' from people I know but rather 'oh it's such a beautiful story'. They were hooked into the story not because it was excellently written but because it merely emotionally appealed to them. I'm no book snob to say that it is a terrible thing to like a book because it emotionally speaks to you. There are many different types of readers (as there are writers and people) but I do prefer to read something that is both appealing in terms of writing and the emotional appeal. I found that books like The Road couldn't draw me in because the writing and the emotional element did nothing for me.
This is one reason I'd been hesitant bumping the ratings for this book (and YA series) up to five stars. I rate them among my favourite YA series and are must haves for my bookshelf yet I was not sure whether they had the quality of writing since it had been at least two years since I last read the books. And my views upon writing have changed a lot since then. However I found upon my re-read that there is enough in this novel to satisfy me and for me to give it the five star rating.
The three elements that contribute to me liking this book are:
1) It appeals to me emotionally. I do quite like mythology, particularly Greek, Roman, Celtic or Norse mythology so the idea of Greek gods being alive in modern day America is fascinating. However this is a smaller element of why I like the book.
2) The writing has subtle elements of wit and humour. In fact I didn't pick several of the jokes up the first time around because they were actually very clever. I quite like humour in writing and when it's clever humour that suits the style of the writing that means I consider it 'good' writing. The tone of the writing is consistent and gets better book by book and is dumbed down enough for the target audience without being 'stupid'. In other words, the kind of writing that can appeal to adults and children. Which is how YA and children's books should be written.
3) The imagination. All my favourite authors and books are written with imagination fuelling them. Brandon Sanderson writes fantasy books that differ from the normal and full of imagined fantasy systems. J.R.R Tolkien created the imagined Middle Earth. The imaginations of Dickens, Austen, Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury, Wells, Verne and Wharton may not be as apparent as fantasy authors like those two but they are there in the beauty of characterisation and word usage. Rick Riordan also has imagination in everything he writes in this book and the rest of the series. Which is why it appeals to me so much.
In the end what book review would be complete without mentioning that it's a tour-de-force of the YA sub-genre, whatever that means. I definitely recommend the series for around 11 year olds and upwards. I think it would appeal particularly to boys but it would also suit girls who like action types of books.