Sunday, March 3, 2024

Book review: “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods”

MosaicArts and EntertainmentBook review: “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods”

GABY NIEVES
Co-Managing Mosaic Editor





The “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, as well as every other series written by Rick Riordan that follows it (the “Riordanverse,” if you will), is rated as middle school-level reading. I, however, was first introduced to the series in high school and found that while 10 may be the minimum age to read Riordan’s books, there is certainly no maximum age. Even at 20 years old, the announcement of a new novel starring Percy Jackson being released on Sept. 26 filled me with great excitement.

After saving the world more times than I can keep track of, I thought Percy Jackson could finally go on to live a peaceful life. After all, he defeated the most infamous monsters of Greek mythology, held up the literal sky (for his questmate-turned-girlfriend, Annabeth Chase), jumped into Tartarus (also for Annabeth), refused an offer of immortal godhood offered to him by Zeus (to live a mortal life with Annabeth) and more.

This teenage, ADHD-having, dyslexic son of the Greek god of the sea Poseidon and mortal Sally Jackson has been sent on back-to-back deadly quests since the age of 12. After all he’s accomplished, surely the gods would leave him alone now … right?

Nope.

14 years after the fifth (and formerly concluding) novel of the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, author Riordan lets readers in on Percy’s latest struggle – senior year of high school. Specifically, the college admissions process.

Now 17 years old, all Percy wants is to get into the same mythical college as Annabeth, New Rome University. Oh yeah, did I mention he united the Roman and Greek demigods? Well, the Romans have a college for demigods.

But between his learning difficulties and missing his entire junior year (a goddess wiped his memory and dumped him on the other side of the country … don’t ask), Percy has some academic ground to make up. As a result, a unique requirement has been created for Percy’s college application and completing it is his only hope of getting into New Rome.

In “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods,” Percy learns that he must submit three recommendation letters from gods to the university admissions board. How does he obtain these letters? You guessed it. More quests for the son of the sea god (because, of course, none of his past quests count). To worsen the matter, he can’t go searching for these gods on his own. Rather, they must seek out him themselves.

Luckily for Percy, one god is in immediate need of help. The cupbearer of the gods, Ganymede, has lost his chalice, which he needs back in the event that Zeus calls for a feast. That, and if a mortal were to drink from the misplaced chalice, they would become immortal.

With Ganymede’s job and Percy’s future on the line, the original trio of Percy, Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and their satyr best friend Grover Underwood are back to questing. And let me just say, this book has everything that I remember loving about the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” and “The Heroes of Olympus” series that I read in high school.

Riordan incorporates the ancient Greek gods into the modern world in the most brilliant ways possible. In this book, a contributor to Ganymede’s missing chalice problem is that he didn’t notice he lost it because feasts aren’t frequent these days. Most gods want their drinks delivered in a to-go cup, so his “cupbearer” job looks much different now than it did in ancient Greece.

I will say that some of Riordan’s contemporary references compromise his timeline. Big Riordanverse fans will remember that Percy was canonically born in 1993. However, Riordan namedrops “WandaVision” (released in 2021) in a book where Percy is supposed to be 17. That math isn’t mathing. Yes, I realize I’m nitpicking, but he could have stopped at the mention of Poseidon wearing Crocs with socks.

However, that’s my only criticism of this novel. I walked right back into the action-packed world of demigods as if I had never left it — and as he always manages to do, Riordan takes Percy’s most serious moments of conflict and turns them into lessons on life and love that I truly believe everyone should live by.

What’s different about this book is that, as it’s set during the school year instead of summer camp, we see Percy juggle his quest, classes, home life with his mother and stepfather and relationship with Annabeth all at the same time. I’ll admit that he doesn’t really have to “juggle” the latter, though. Percy and Annabeth are the definition of soulmates and the blueprint for romances everywhere. You’ll know what I mean when you read the book.

I digress.

This novel sets the stage for him to learn how to deal with his relationships with family and friends at such a pivotal point in his life, and I appreciate Riordan for including that aspect in the story. Percy also learns how to fight angry chickens and snakes, but I digress once again.

Based on the set up of these relationships and the fact that Percy only gets one of his three letters in “The Chalice of the Gods,” it’s clear that this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Percy Jackson. I smell at least another two books in Riordan’s future, although nothing is confirmed yet. However, I get the feeling that this boy will never be left alone.

If you’ve never read the first five “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” books, I recommend you do so so that you can be in on the multiple callbacks that are made. That being said, there’s enough background information provided in this novel that you can read it as a standalone.

New to the Riordanverse? I’d recommend this book to you. Already a fan? I’d recommend this book to you 10 times over. Whether you’re looking for laughs, wholesomeness or an idea of what it’d be like to be half-boy, half-god in the 21st century, pick up a copy of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods.”

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