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Posts Tagged ‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians’

Book Review:
Today I finished “The Meaning Of It All – Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist“, by Richard P. Feynman (1998©).  The book is a transcript of three lectures Dr. Feynman gave in 1963 at the University of Washington in Seattle.  The lectures are themselves titled: “The Uncertainty of Science“, “The Uncertainty of Values“, and “This Unscientific Age“.  The lectures provide insight into the Dr. Feynman’s (a Nobel laureate in physics) views on the nature and limits of science, religion and politics.
Feynman is one of the men who worked on “The Manhattan Project” which developed the atomic bombs dropped on Japan which ended the war (WWII) in the Pacific.  Feynman’s name is mentioned frequently whenever someone talks about the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century.  It appears from this book, that he has a terrific way with words to go along with his intellect.  The speeches were fairly informal (even amusing – not quite funny), but still offered much to ponder about – particularly about science and religion.
I particularly like his openly stated views on the limits of science in explaining things – basically, science only applies when you can think of a problem and a method of testing the problem for possible solutions.  Science can’t be applied to faith and therefore not to religion.   He accepts that others can find comfort in faith.  As a believer in God, it is refreshing to not be looked down on by someone who is a scientist.  Having said this, it is, I think, important to state that lots of scientists are also religious.
Anyway, the book is fairly short (about 200 pages) and is a very fast read – although as I said, it is full of things you will find yourself thinking about later (or during) after you’ve finished the book.  I know I will.  And, yes, you’ll be seeing some quotes in the coming days.
Movie Review:
Last night, I re-watched “Percy Jackson & the Olympians“.  I’ve read the book series and saw the movie with my son quite some time back.  He saw it at the theater.  I’ve only seen it on DVD.  Anyway, I watched it again to see what I thought.  I had very mixed reactions.  I was less impressed by the acting and more impressed by the special effects.  The story in the movie was less in sync with the book (as I remember it).  All in all, I’d say it was not as good as “Transformers” and about the same as “I Am Number Four“.  Basically, okay, but not great.  Entertaining, but not “I’ll really look forward to watching that again next year.”
Other bits and bobs:
James hung around for a BBQ this evening (Sunday).  I wanted to go out, but he wanted to eat in so I went and got us a couple of pork steaks.  Hil had a beef steak and Sarah had a couple of dogs.  It was real nice just hanging out with him and chatting.
I was chatting with Hil afterwards and we’re going to miss them when they are all gone and we’re on our own.  That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to it, but time does fly and your kids are all up and grown.
Sarah has started junior college and seems to be enjoying it.  She’ll probably be there for three years with all the cutbacks in classes.  Time passes…
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The Road to Recovery:
Today I went for my first half-hour walk.  You’ll recall yesterday I was only able to manage about a third of a mile in 20 minutes and was feeling pretty puffed at the end of that.  Well, today I got out for a full 30 minutes and I reckon I walked about one and a third to one and half miles.  No pain.  No chest tightness.  No real shortness of breath.   I did warm up very quickly, which I attribute to the higher pulse and blood pressure than normal, but all in all I’m pretty happy to feel like I accomplished a little more than yesterday.  I didn’t jog.  I only walked, but I did try to stay on my mid-foot and toes and lean a bit forward.  This made me feel like it was almost walking briskly.
Baby steps…  Slowly, slowly…
Two Book Reviews:
This week I read two more of James’ books:  “Demigods And Monsters“, edited by Rick Riordan (2008©), and “The Lost Hero“, written by Rick Riordan (2010©).   The first book is mostly a series of short articles authors of children’s (young adults) fiction writers.  They are offering their thoughts about why particular aspects of the Percy Jackson series are so enjoyable for them as readers and as authors.  To the extent the authors deal with the professional writing aspects of the series, their comments are interesting.  The the extent they extend the stories with their explanations or attempts at humor, the book is tolerable.  This is a book I would only recommend if you are an absolute Percy Jackson fanatic – and even then, probably only if your in your pre-teens.  Other than that, it’s ok, but purchase it used or on deep discount.  I read the book on Tuesday, 11 January, so it’s possible I might have been influenced by the new meds, but I don’t think so.  I completed the second book Thursday, 13 January ’11.
The second book is the first book in a new “Percy Jackson” series.  The original series was all about Greek mythology.  This new series is an attempt to add Roman mythology to the mix.  The new main protagonist is named Jason Grace and he is the son of Jupiter (king of the Roman gods).  Jason is half-human and, therefore, only a demigod.  The story line follows Jason and his two best friends, Piper McLean (daughter of Aphrodite) and Leo Valdez (son of Hephaestus) as they battle various figures from Roman and Greek mythology to save the goddess Hera and the world.  The book is probably 100-150 pages longer than it needs to be, and feels a bit of a long slog as you’re reading it, but once finished, you (I at least) feel as if it was a very good adventure and you wish you could move straight to book two (which isn’t due out until October 2011).
The author talks through each of the main characters, so the viewpoint changes and the reader feels more connected to each.  This was different from the original series where the only point of view was that of the main character (Percy).  After I finished reading the book, I discussed it with my son James and we both agreed we found Leo to be the most interesting of the three points of view.  We disagreed on number two.  James felt Jason was more interesting than Piper.  I felt the reverse.  As Piper is a female character being written about by a male author, I wonder if female readers find her believable, too.  I’ll have to ask one (if I ever meet one).  Anyway, I hope the series is as good as the first book and I highly recommend reading “The Lost Hero“, particularly if you want to read a book to some pre-teens in your family.
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Yesterday, I completed the fourth of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: “The Battle of the Labyrinth“, (2008©), and today I completed the fifth and final book in the series: “The Last Olympian“, (2009©), both written by Rick Riordan.   The series is centered around a coming of age story for the title character.  It is also a retelling of Greek Mythology and a classic story of the conflict between good and evil; temptation, human weakness, and redemption.
Despite the fact the series are obviously targeted for a younger audience (I’d say 8 to 15 year olds), I found the series to be a terrific and thoroughly enjoyable series.  The story builds with each adventure and the ultimate resolution is both emotionally touching and dramatically satisfying.  By this I mean over the series you’ve built up an emotional connection with the main characters and the heroism and sacrifice are quite touching.  At least, they touched me.  The drama is also played out well.  There are a number of twists and turns which were not predictable (to me) and therefore – unlike many mythic tales – the ending was satisfying.  I would say it is wrapped up almost too well.
My son, James, who recommended the series to me, says there are no new books in the series, but some of the characters appear as minor characters in off-shoot series.  Anyway, I highly recommend the series!
I believe I will now go on to read more serious treatments of Greek mythology, in specific, and mythology, in general.  I found the characters names and character types to be common themes in modern culture – which has surprised me.  I am particularly amused by the heavy use of mythology in the “Matrix” trilogy and I will want to re-watch the series to see if the mythology was predictive of the movie / series action or if the movie makers were simply adopting names from Greek mythology.  I’ve always simply viewed the movies as science-fiction, not as a re-working of classic Greek mythology.
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Today I finished Book Three of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: “The Titan’s Curse“, by Rick Riordan (2007©).  Percy finds out that sometimes growing up can feel like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders.
I’m continuing to read through the series at a pretty good pace now.  This is the third one in a little over a week.  They are quite good.  A fast read.  Entertaining.  Definitely a “youth” series, but still enjoyable for those of us who are young at heart.  I still highly recommend the series to anyone trying to get their young to early-teen-sons to read.
I am going to look forward to seeing the movie based on the first book now…
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Today, I finished Book Two of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: “The Sea of Monsters“, written by Rick Riordan, (2006©).  This is the second of five (so far) in the Greek mythology books my son has been reading and he’s asked me to read.
The series is intended for youth, I’d estimate 7 to 15 year olds.  Having said this, I’m finding them very pleasurable reading.  They are very fast reads.  You can gain a great amount of knowledge about mythology, story telling, western civilization, and vocabulary by reading “children’s” books.
This second book is about saving a friend, meeting a relative and Cyclopes.  Unfortunately, saying much more would be telling and spoil the fun of reading the book – so I won’t.  I will say if you have a son (or daughter) who you would like to spend time with – reading a fast paced, child-focused, action-adventure, hero-good guy story to – this series (and this book) are excellent choices.  Tantalizing…
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This morning I read another of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians books.  This wasn’t one of the series novels.  It was only a filler of three short stories.  The book is titled: “The Demigod Files” and is written by Rick Riordan (2009©).  The three stories are background stories meant to add friends and further establish the “hero” status of Percy amongst his peers.
Again, the book is a very fast read and a fun read.  I still feel the series is targeted for youth and therefore lacks a “gravitas” some coming of age stories have, but they are fun.  And if you’re going to target the kids to youth market, fun will sell a lot better than gravitas.  I continue to highly recommend the series.
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Today I completed a book recommended to me by my son.  The book is: “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan (2005©).  The book is a coming of age story for a young man who discovers he is actually the son of the Greek god Poseidon.  As such, Percy has some super powers, mostly to do with water.  As part of his growing up, Percy must choose to become a hero and in order to be a hero he must complete a quest.
The book is basically a children’s (young teens) book.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t be enjoyed by others.  I found it quite interesting to learn so much about Greek mythology while being entertained by a good story.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who still reads kids or action books and to anyone who reads books to kids.  They will enjoy it and learn from it too.  It does contain scenes which may be too intense for very young (under 10 years of age) kids, particularly those with vivid imaginations, but I think most could handle it.
My son says the first book was turned into an unsuccessful movie.  I look forward to reading the remaining 4 novels in the series and to seeing the movie.
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