Greek mythology and folklore are everywhere in western culture. In some places, these stories are even taught in schools. Not going to lie, I am a bit bitter that my school didn’t but moving on.
Growing up, I started to fall in love with folklore and mythology. While films like Hercules probably helped foster this interest, it was the Percy Jackson books that turned my interest into a borderline obsession.
The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan was my first proper introduction to Greek mythology. It seems like Riordan’s books were the gateway to Greek mythology for lots of young readers.
These books were one of the first times the gods were shown to be flawed and not always good people. Granted, they are far more palatable than the original tales but still.
Even now I still think his take on the gods is perhaps one of the most accurate to the legends. At least in terms of modern adaptations, let alone for younger audiences. He shows their petty fights and squabbles for what there were. He showed how vain and frankly kind of nasty they were.
These books also discussed other heroes and monsters. Giving new life to these folklore characters, sometimes even letting us see from their perspective.
Although, and here is the sappy part, my favourite element was how he protrade learning disabilities. He showed them in a rather positive light, not the butt of a joke.
As an Autistic, it made me feel valued. That I wasn’t born broken, just different in a good way. Not a lot of books back when I was younger did that. That is probably why even as a grown adult, these books hold a special place in my heart.
Not to mention that Riordan, unlike other writers, includes a decent amount of representation. He fights for it too. We need more writers like him if you ask me.
This series is my number one recommendation to all YA lovers, especially after She exposed her true colours.
Riordan, thank you for not only encouraging my love of reading and introducing me to Greek mythology, but for making younger me feel better about my condition.
Thank you so much.