Percy Jackson and the Poorly Written Sequel
What happened, Rick? I really liked The Lightning Thief, and was looking forward to the rest of the series. I sat down last week to start my adventure with The Sea of Monsters, and was dumbfounded. I had to fight with myself to get past the first ten pages. After chapter two I had to quit.
In the opening of the story, Percy is in seventh grade, and has befriended a huge and emotionally sensitive homeless kid. Now, despite the fact that Percy’s last weird friend turned out to be a satyr, it doesn’t register with him as odd that his new pal is 6’3″ and rips the doors off of lockers when kids make fun of him. But I was sure he’d catch on when some monsters appeared hurling fireballs at him, and his odd companion caught the fireballs mid-flight and flung them back, destroying the monsters and the school gym in the process. I was wrong.
But he’d definitely get it when a friend—a fellow demigod—shows up and drops repeated hints that the kid is something other than a kid. No dice. And after a fight with a squad of fiery, metallic minions, in which the big guy laid waste to the place, he still—somehow—thought he was just a normal kid. It was then that he let the mist clear an saw that his friend was, in fact, a cyclops.
I know this is for young teens (I think Percy is twelve, so your target reader would be in that range), but knowing that those young teens won’t recognize the simplistic devices that play on their naivete is not an excuse to write badly. And what kind of hero is this? We now have a twelve-year-old demigod who is incapable of recognizing a 6-foot monster, even when it’s ripping doors off of lockers in a room full of seventh graders. How is he possibly going to survive whatever adventure he’s about to go on?
The Lightning Thief was reasonably well-written and enjoyable, even for an adult audience. It’s sequel is crap. Crap I would have enjoyed 16 years ago, but crap nonetheless.