May 7, 2008 Review: Percy Jackson and The Battle of the Labyrinth
Percy Jackson is back and better than ever. Cliche beginning, but it fits! Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is one of my favorites and now the fourth installment of his adventures has arrived: The Battle of the Labyrinth.
(This will contain very minor spoilers)
The series’ hallmark,to me, is the sharp writing and realistic characters. Percy, while his problems aren’t exactly normal, what with deadly enemies and vengeful gods, not to mention quite a few life-threatening situations. Yet Percy is relatable as well, as he’s burdened with typical teenage worries: fear of fitting in, family troubles, etc. The rest of the characters are just are razor-sharp, with faults and fears even as they battle mysterious creatures and experience perilous adventures.
The Battle of the Labyrinth starts with a familiar scene to the series’ readers: Percy entering yet another school. And as you would expect, things are off to a very weird start. Familiar characters remain and new characters appear. Soon things take off with a bang.
Riordan’s captivating action and the dialogue creates a bigger fan out of me with each new installment. The books are incredibly engaging, and aren’t bogged down in endless descriptions, but get right to the heart of the action, yet achieve an equal balance of character and adventure. The language is universal, as are the themes: identity, family, love, loss, making the series’ appeal to a wide audience. Percy and his friends (and foes) come across on the page so well, they become old friends and as the action escalates, you’re right there with them.
As previously mentioned on this blog, I’d prepared a presentation at a children’s literature conference on the use of the hero’s journey in the Percy Jackson series. As the series progresses, Riordan’s development of the convergence of both worlds – mortal and god – is even more refined and clever in The Battle of the Labyrinth with more enemies, and is a rollercoaster ride (we begin with a cliche, we close with a cliche) to the very last page. Amongst demonic cheerleaders, an odd dude ranch, the Sphinx, and of course, the Labyrinth, it’ll be difficult to pull yourself away.
Okay, bring on the next one! No, seriously.
Copy for review provided by the publisher