On a recent episode of the SF Signal podcast, we discussed books we want to read before the end of the year. Larry Ketcherseid mentioned a book in the Percy Jackson series. His entire family, mom, dad and kids, read and enjoy the series, which got me to thinking. I've seen the first movie, but never checked out the books—mainly since that movie wasn't very good. But Larry was so enthusiastic about the books, I decided it was time to see what the fuss was all about. Luckily for me, and you, Rick Riordan has a graphic novel version of the first book, Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, so we can take a look at it together.
Percy Jackson lives in a boarding school. He doesn't particularly care for it. His best friend, Grover, is cool enough, but Percy feels like an outcast. On a school outing, a chaperone pulls him aside, away from everyone else, then transforms into a monster and tries to kill him. He's saved when the other chaperone, Mr. Brunner, hands him a pen that turns into a sword. With that sword, Percy defeats the monster. Afterward, no one remembers the monster, the chaperone, or what Percy had to do to survive—not even Mr. Brunner who gave him the pen/sword in the first place!
Percy is sure that it wasn't his imagination. He spies on Mr. Brunner and finds the man talking with Percy's best friend, Grover. They mention the word “fury,” Rather than stay, Percy decides to head home. Grover follows him to the bus station where three women sit knitting. Grover is unnerved when one of the women cut a line of thread with a pair of scissors. He insists on traveling with Percy, who instead ditches him and heads home alone. There, his mother is happy to see him and announces they'll be taking a trip to their favorite beach spot. Once there, and under the comfort of a warm blanket and a roaring fire, she talks about Percy's father having to leave them when he was quite young. A storm is raging outside. Grover appears at the door, warning them that something is coming. To Percy's astonishment, Grover's legs are that of a goat. Grover corrects him, saying that he is, in fact, a Satyr. Percy's mom loads them in the car and races toward “the camp,” a mysterious place where she says they'll be safe. Before they can get there, though, lightning strikes, the car is hit and thrown from the road, and Percy's mom sends him off with Grover while she stays behind. At the camp, Percy learns he is a demigod, and Poseidon. And that's just the beginning....
Having never read the book, I can't say how faithful this adaptation by Robert Venditti is. What I can tell you is this—it's a great story. Percy has a lot of issues that feel real even given the fantasy setting and tropes, from his feelings of isolation and being an outcast, to his dyslexia. Riordan does a great job of weaving these very real elements of the real world into one where Greek gods and monsters exist along the fringe. The quest to find a stolen lightning bolt of Zeus gives Percy a chance to stand out and come to terms with who he is and where he comes from. At its heart, there is a very stirring story of self-discovery, accepting oneself and being accepted.
The art is very well done. Attila Futaki and Jose Villarrubia work together to bring the characters to life. A lot of vibrant-color accents throughout, and the characters are portrayed realistically.
Bottom line—this is a great book. Highly recommend.
Patrick Hester is an author, blogger and 2013 Hugo Award Winner for Best Fanzine (Editor - SF Signal). He lives in Colorado, writes science fiction and fantasy, and can usually be found hanging out on his Twitter feed. His Functional Nerds and SF Signal weekly podcasts have both been nominated for Parsec awards, and the SF Signal podcast was nominated for a 2012 and a 2013 Hugo Award. In addition to his Kirkus posts, he writes for atfmb.com, SF Signal and Functional Nerds.