I finished reading the latest Percy Jackson novel, The Son of Neptune, and enjoyed myself very much. I’ve always loved adventurous and fantastical novels. As a kid I read and reread all the Greek Mythology stories I could find. I loved Demeter’s search for her stolen daughter, Psyche’s flight on the cloud down to Cupid’s palace, her betrayal of Cupid and later quest to find him again, the story of Theseus overcoming the minotaur in the maze, and Hercules and his twelve labors. The stories caught my imagination, and I cried for Icarus when he died, laughed at Midas’ donkey ears, and felt appalled by Hera throwing her son off of Olympus.
Rick Riordan loosely weaves the myths into Percy’s adventures, creating challenges, directing quests and adding little touches of silly humor. Somehow, though I know my mind is being manipulated into following the stories by Riordan’s intricate storytelling skills, still I find myself enthralled by unrolling events. Quite simply, the novels are fun and exciting. I admire Riordan for managing to produce a book complete with action and charm on what appears to be a yearly rate.
The movie image of Percy standing on top of a building, drawing a tsunami of water up from the water tanks to attack his friend-turned-enemy Luke comes to my mind. I wonder, does Riordan draw the novel from his imagination the same way Percy can influence water, knowing ahead of time exactly where he wishes each drop, or word, to fall?
My own process of writing is somewhat more arduous and less fierce: more like moving a teaspoon of water one at a time from one tank to another, dropping some, wiping away others, returning some back. And perhaps because of the way I work, the task of writing the novel is a never-ending one. I can always add a little more, subtract a little more, or keep something for a later novel.
At the end of each Percy Jackson novel, Riordan always leaves something unfinished, yet another prophecy that needs to be fulfilled, the promise of yet another expedition. Like my writing, Percy’s adventures are a never-ending succession of quests: more monsters to fight, giants to vanquish, gods to subdue, friends to support. Black and white, all of it, good and evil. But that, perhaps, is a beginning for another post.