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Percy Jackson and the Olympians: How Does the New Series Hold Up to the Books?

In case you live under a rock and have not read the book or watched the series, the plot of both centers around a kid named Percy Jackson.

Iev Radin/Shutterstock

The Percy Jackson book series has lined young people’s shelves and their hearts since the first book was written in 2005. Rick Riordan, the author, said in an interview that the story started as a bedtime story for his autistic son so that he could feel like a hero.

Since then, it has snowballed into a best-selling book series, two movies, and a Disney+ series.

The Plot

In case you live under a rock and have not read the book or watched the series, the plot of both centers around a kid named Percy Jackson, a demigod and son of Poseidon, the Greek God of the Sea, Earthquakes, and Horses. This kid grows up not knowing his father, and all of a sudden, he is thrust into the world of monsters and gods, where he must take on a quest that involves returning Zeus’s stolen master bolt to him to stop a war between the gods. But he does not do it alone.

With two best friends at his side, Annabeth and Grover, Riordan takes us on a ride filled with betrayal, love, friendship, and adventure. It is filled with twists and turns and nail-biting moments that have you on the edge of your seat. It may be meant for kids, but the story has touched the hearts of many adults and young people as well because it gives us a sense of hope that there is somewhere for all of us to be who we are.

The Series

Development on the series began in May 2020 when Rick Riordan pitched the idea to Disney. Jonathan E Steinberg and Dan Shotz were announced as showrunners in 2021, and the main cast of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover was announced in 2022. Percy is played by Walker Scobell, Annabeth by Leah Sava Jefferies, and Grover by Aryan Simhadri. Filming started in June 2022 in Vancouver and wrapped up in February 2023.

The series premiered on Disney+ in December 2023 with its first season, which is eight episodes long, the last of which came out on the 30th of January 2024. It has received mainly positive reviews because of its faithfulness to the books. That, in large part, is because Rick Riordan himself was in the writer’s room on this series and is an executive producer on the show.

Major Diff

Many fans were excited by the fact that Riordan would have a hands-on approach with the show as the fanbase, as well as the author, were deeply disappointed with the two movies that came out in 2010 and 2013, respectively. He is quoted as having said:

“I still have not seen the movies, and don’t plan on ever doing so, I judge them from having read the scripts because I care most about the story. I certainly have nothing against the very talented actors. Not their fault. I’m just sorry they got dragged into that mess.”

Entertainment/Christian Holub

The movies themselves age up the characters, and there is a sexual element to the movies that is not present in the books. In the books, the kids are meant to be twelve years old, but in the movie, they are sixteen years of age. This makes it a whole different story. Percy and Annabeth in the books and the new series find it hard to get along at first but ultimately become the best of friends. In the movies, they are attracted to one another and kiss at the end of the first movie, which upsets some fans.

This and many other changes annoyed and disappointed fans, especially those who had waited years for an adaptation. That is why Rick Riordan fought for the latest adaptation to be a series, as it gives the writers more time to stay true to the story. In the case of the series, the plan is that each season will tell the plot of each book in chronological order!

Reaction

According to Disney, in the first three weeks, 26.2 million people had watched the first episode of the series. On Rotten Tomatoes, the ever-trusted website for movie and TV show reviews, critics rated it a whopping 92%, and the audience score is a very impressive 81%. It is very difficult to gain that high a score on both ends of the tomato meter, but that just goes to show how staying faithful to the source material can gain some very positive feedback! One review says of it:

“The result of these various elements is a nice enough way to explore Greek mythology and perhaps idle away some hours over the winter school break. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” probably won’t be the next big thing, but enough kids will enjoy it, and maybe even learn a bit along the way.”

Cristina Escobar/Roger Ebert.com

Overall, the consensus on this Percy Jackson adaptation is that it is of very good quality, stays relatively true to the books, has managed to please the already well-established fanbase and has encouraged many newcomers in as well. I don’t know about you, but I already can’t wait for season two!!

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Frank

    February 9, 2024 at 1:29 pm

    Enlightening article. Didn’t realise that Rick Riordan was on board with the project. Excited to watch now!

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