While I have read many books over the years, there have been two series that I can say had the biggest influence on my life. One was Harry Potter, but that was honestly one that my whole family enjoyed as a whole. The other series was Percy Jackson which was one I read by myself and the one that made me realize I wanted to be a writer. Without Percy Jackson, I'm pretty sure my life may have gone down a different road. I can still remember when I read the first book, The Lightning Thief. My dad bought it on a whim, thinking I'd like it, but when he got it for me, I wasn't interested. I just wanted to play a Transformers video game. But he wanted me to get off the screen and do some reading. So he watched as I started reading before leaving. As soon as he did, I started playing again and whenever I heard him coming back, I quickly turned the TV off and started reading again. The thing was, I soon lost interest in the game (it really wasn't that good looking back) and got more interested in the book. And given that the live action TV series is coming out soon, I thought now was a good time to go over how much I love this series and all the sequels, spin-offs, and same-universe series.
I read about this before, but it still amazes me that Rick Riordan came up with the idea as a bedtime story for his son who then convinced him it could make a good book. What really makes this special is that Rick wrote the character as ADHD and dyslexic as his son was diagnosed the same, giving people like his son characters they could relate to. As someone who identifies as asexual and sees literally a handful of characters to relate to, this is very important to me. Rick Riordan filled his books with my three favorite characteristics in any story: heart, humor, and action. His first book, The Lightning Thief, drew me in with Percy's snarky personality and his witty comments, but it grabbed me in the tense and frightening fight scene with the terrifying Mrs. Dodds. After that I was hooked. I loved it even more when I realized it was based on Greek mythology as I had always been a sucker for those stories and I absolutely loved how Rick Riordan took all those stories, mixed them up in his mind, and brought them back out in his own quirky way. Mount Olympus being on top of the Empire State Building for one or Apollo's sun chariot now being a Maserati. Dionysius being the camp counselor and hating everyone for it was always good for a laugh.
For me, as a writer, the most important aspect of any story is the characters. Everything else comes second. Don't get me wrong, the plot and themes and tone are all super important and I always make sure to get thwem just right when writing, but the characters come first for me. And thankfully, Rick Riordan understands that here as he came up with great character arcs throughout the books. Percy, classed as a snarky troublemaker because of his ADHD and dyslexia, is instantly a fan-favorite because of his trademark humor and his sense of loyalty for his friends. That shows in one of the first scenes in the book when Percy defends his friend Grover from a bully. You can't not like him. I also liked how he isn't the son of (SPOILER ALERT) Zeus like most would think, but a son of Poseidon instead. Going into it, I was kind of expecting Zeus as well since he is the father of most known Greek heroes but I think that was the point Riordan was trying to make. After him comes Annabeth, the smart, studious, kick-ass character. Coming off as sort of a 'Hermione' when you first meet her given her booklike nature, that changes when she shows off her strategic combat abilities and expert fighting style. A true icon to anyone reading. A tragic backstory of being overlooked and then practically abandoned by her family that provides her character arc as she is someone constantly looking for stability in her life and will fight to the death for it. And rounding out the trio is Grover, probably the most relatable character. He fumbles around a lot, is incredible anxious, and struggles to help as much as he can. Honestly, he's like me whenever I go outside or participate in anything. Which is why I like his character arc most of all as someone who manages to find his inner courage to fight for what he believes in and becomes a leader and role model to those around him by the end of the series. And he is without a doubt Percy's best friend through it all.
Of course, that's just three characters. There are plenty more like Tyson, Nico, Chiron, Zoe, Luke, Silena, Beckendorf, Clarisse, and so many more. Thalia is a personal favorite of mine as she's just plain awesome and, even if I didn't know it yet, the closest representation to asexuality in these books, even if it's sort of more a choice for her.
Rick Riordan doesn't skip out on the main themes of these books either and I think this is where his history as a teacher comes through as the main story revolves around how much the Gods love making kids but don't really stick around afterwards to help raise them or really even care about them too much. Just shove them off to the side and don't pay attention unless they do something to embarass them. Something that comes back to bite them in the ass when many of those kids turn against them in a revolution against Olympus.
Honestly there is so much to love about these books from the epic fight sequences (Percy v Ares was nothing but epic) to the laugh-out-loud moments ("What could be worse than hummus?") and especially the scenes that make you cry (SPOILER Beckendorf's death) that I could talk about it all day. And this is just for this series as the books continue in the sequel series Heroes of Olympus and spin-off Trials of Apollo that contain their own emotional and epic moments, Nico's coming out as gay scene a heartwrenching and truly fantastic scene. Percy Jackson was the series that really made me want to be a writer. The first book I wrote was so heavily based on the series to the point where if had actually been published, I would certainly have been sued for copyright infringment. Even my first work of fanfiction was about Percy Jackson. Without this series, I honestly don't think I would be a writer. Or, at least, it would have taken me a lot longer to figure it out. And, if I'm being really honest, this book series was something that got me out of a really dark place in my life and made me excited for the future. I owe a lot to this series and Rick Riordan. I cannot wait for the live action adaptation (cause the films were trash) on Disney Plus and see these characters I love so much get translated in a hopefully faithful adaptation. While I don't know all the actors, the ones I do recognize match so perfectly with their characters that I have absolute faith.
So please, go get yourself a copy of the Lighting Thief and start reading it. You won't regret it. And thank you Rick Riordan, for giving me a book that profoundly changed my whole world.