The upcoming Disney+ Percy Jackson series has reignited the fandom, bringing back fans who had read the books years ago. As new information becomes available (like the recent casting of Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hermes), fans have felt the need to return to the books that started it all. The films from the early 2010s failed to impress long-time fans, but Rick Riordan's devotion to making the series better has many excited to see their favorite childhood series come to life.
The first Percy Jackson book was released in 2005, and many fans haven't read the books in over a decade. In order to gauge how well the series handles the source material, however, many fans are now re-reading the five-book saga. While it has remained a beloved series since it was first released, those who read it as young teenagers have found that many elements don't hold up when they read it as adults. Rereading the Percy Jackson series can bring back the magic and love of mythology, but it also comes with some harsh realities.
Percy Is An Extremely Overpowered Character
While Percy generally seemed to be fumbling through life in several of his quests, it becomes increasingly clear as fans read the books that he was never weak. With no fighting training, Percy managed to kill one of the Furies, and just a few months later, he beat the God of War in a duel.
Because of his struggles with ADHD and dyslexia, as well as his engaging character voice, fans tended to relate to Percy when they read the books for the first time. Looking back, it's kind of absurd. While he definitely had to work to get there, Percy's base abilities are still far beyond those of the ordinary person. This can occasionally get annoying because it keeps readers from being overly concerned for Percy's safety.
Rick Riordan Made Some Continuity Errors
Since most fans came to the series while it was still coming out, minor details could be easily ignored. However, this is not the same case when going on a reading binge since continuity errors start to stick out. While most are insignificant to the plot, they can definitely make it difficult to get a good mental image of the characters.
A few of these inconsistencies include Annabeth's hair changing from curly to straight, the Pegasus Blackjack changing genders between books, and Thalia's eyes changing from storm green to electric blue. In his website, Riordan has since used these continuity errors as justification that the books' word is not law when it comes to character appearance.
The Movies Were Really Bad
Fans were overjoyed at the idea of a Percy Jackson movie but disliked its execution. Upon re-reading the books, it's obvious just how bad the movies really were. The characters didn't have their familiar quirks, flaws, and charms, and their ages were changed to a disastrous effect.
More than that, the plot was completely changed. Rather than being a quest for the Underworld, it became a quest to find the pearls that were easily acquired in the book. Because of the drastic change, the books' scenes were largely discarded, leading up to a massive battle between Percy and Luke. The more readers rediscover their love of the books, the more they will remember their hatred for the movies.
Luke Was Right
Luke is one of those morally-grey characters that fans routinely fight over, and reading the books again is bound to reignite the old argument, bolstering both sides. Luke absolutely abused his relationships with the campers and let children die to achieve his goals. But his perspective on the gods was pretty accurate.
By the end of the five books, Percy recognizes that the Gods are terrible parents and that the war was caused by their failings. At several times, Percy understands why Luke wanted to take them down. However, the way Luke went about it is what Percy (and the fans) can't quite forgive.
This Series Is Very Long Now
Even those who love reading often find they have less time for it as adults than they did as children, and the Percy Jackson series is long. The original series is five books long, but that is followed by the five-book sagas Heroes of Olympus and Trials of Apollo. There's also the Kane Chronicles and the Magnus Chase series, set in other pantheons but the same universe.
While that's not a problem per se, it can make it difficult for a fan to get immersed in the world quickly. There is a lot to read, and while fans can stop at just the first five, the full saga is worth reading. But it's not going to be as easy of a task as most series, where a full read-through could theoretically be done in a matter of days.
It's Going To Be Painful To Watch Children Go Through All Of This
The Percy Jackson series gets really dark at times, and the protagonists are children as they attempt to fight life-and-death battles and save the world. This can occasionally be easy to forget because the series' depth feels so adult. But with the upcoming Percy Jackson series righting the wrongs by casting actual children for the roles, fans now have to face their ages more directly.
When reading Percy going through horrible grief, readers will see Walker Scobell's mischievous smile. When they read Annabeth feeling so unwanted by her family that she ran away at seven, they will imagine it in Leah Jeffries's voice. The books can make fans cry their eyes out, and thinking about those scenes being performed by real children may hit readers harder than they expect.
The Aphrodite Cabin Deserved Better
It's important for fans to remember that Percy is an unreliable narrator, and one of the biggest ways that this shows is in his and Annabeth's way of talking about children of Aphrodite. Annabeth tells Percy that "If you're a child of Aphrodite or Demeter, you're probably not a real powerful force." This colors his perception of them throughout the series.
Throughout the books, any reference to the Aphrodite Cabin was an insult. For example, Percy explained that they "checked their reflections in the lake and did their hair and gossiped" instead of learning combat skills. Thankfully, this perspective was minimized in Heroes of Olympus.
Everybody Is Related Which Makes Things Weird
All the Gods are related, which means that their children also should be related as well. This becomes a more concerning part of the series in the later books when romance becomes a main feature. Ares and Hermes both refer to Percy as their cousin, which implies that there are definitive family ties that extend to the demigods.
In the books, Riordan has Percy explain, "the godly side of your family doesn't count, genetically speaking, since gods don't have DNA. A demigod would never think about dating someone who had the same godly parent." However, that explanation prompts more questions than answers, and it's probably best to try not to think about it.
The Percy Jackson Series Never Got The Love It Deserved
Percy Jackson came to prominence during the Harry Potter era, and while it did gain attention of its own, it was constantly overshadowed by the wizarding series. While Riordan got his books into the school systems by sponsoring a Mythology Bee in 2008 (via Rick Riordan website), Harry Potter was a true cultural phenomenon that was hard to ignore.
Those rereading the Percy Jackson series as adults will find that it holds up surprisingly well, all these years later. Meanwhile, many Harry Potter fans faced the reality that the same can't be said for each Harry Potter book. Knowing that, it can be hard to read the books without becoming frustrated that Percy Jackson never got the prominence it rightfully deserved.
The Show Won't Be Coming Out Until 2024
For all its flaws, the Percy Jackson series is quite good, and reading it can leave fans desperate for more. The teaser trailer for the show thrilled fans, who hoped that the footage meant the series would be coming soon. However, it is currently set to release in 2024, making fans who reread the books now wait another year to see their favorite scenes on screen.
Fans are eager to see these characters brought to life, especially since the books' protagonists all have dyslexia. Those who relate most could really benefit from a visual medium, but they still have some time left to wait.