Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Titan's Curse

If I had read this last installment in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series and put post-it notes at all the good parts (which would have been helpful for this review), I would have cracked the spine. What was so good?

First of all, the action. No introspective navel gazing here, unless it occurs while flying over a desert with a huntress who feels compelled to shoot at all the Target signs. There is character development. They do discuss their place in the larger cosmos. But blessedly briefly, and these necessary bouts are punctuated by attacking monsters and dramatic getaways. Never boring.

Humor would be next. So much, and deliciously off-the-cuff. No trying too hard. It might be the turn of phrase (The boar saying REEEEEET was somehow perfect), or the situation (fighting monsters in the air and space museum), or just pure silliness (when they are at the dam, they want to go to the "dam snack bar" and buy a "dam t-shirt", which is spot-on adolescent humor), but the whole book breezes along with fun.

The mythology is the basis for all of this. The characters receive a prophecy and see it played out, there is a huge problem percolating with the ancient gods, and the teachers, monsters and other mythological characters Percy meets all ring true. Our 7th grade is thinking about purchasing class sets of The Lightning Thief for core novels to augment the mythology unit. There's certainly twists and reinterpretations, but the book would be great as a springboard to discussion. Plus, the children will enjoy reading it. There's a novel thought in assigned reading!

What will happen next? Will Grover find Pan? Will Percy save the universe? Of course. And I can't wait to be there when he does.

Note to Mr. Riordan: If you don't know what to write next, how about a mystery series with a male protagonist that has this same sensibility. There's enough written for adults. Come over to the Young Adult side. We'll take good care of you!
Also read de Guzman's Finding Stinko, which was interesting, but I would have a hard time getting the students to read a book about a selectively mute child who runs away from foster care, finds a ventriloquist's dummy in a trash bin and finds that he can talk when using the dummy. Newboy takes off for Miami, but the plot was vague and depressing while somehow trying to be funny. Similar in some ways to Melonhead. The girls who want depressing books will think this is too humorous, and the boys who want humor and adventure will find it too depressing. Also, having had several foster children in our school this year, I would like something a little more positive about foster care, even though this ultimately is. For another school, this might be great, but I don't see it here.

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