On Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Percy, I am Your Father
Note to self: Do not become a parent in a fantasy novel.
Seriously, have you ever noticed how disturbingly often parents in fantasy novels are dead, kidnapped, missing, clueless, distant, or unknown? Kind of makes me want to round up all the authors, sit them on those pleather psychiatrist couches, and say, “Now, tell me about your mother . . .”
On the other hand, it works very nicely as a storytelling device: Get the parents out of the way and then something interesting can happen. I think of it as the Home Alone technique. You see it in books by C. S. Lewis, Lemony Snicket, J. K. Rowling . . . and you definitely see it in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. All the kids at Camp Half-Blood, including the protagonist, Percy, are separated from their parents.
But are the parents really gone from the story? True, they don’t have much screen time, but in Rick Riordan’s books, the influence of these seldom-seen parents is so profound as to be (brace yourself–there’s a pun coming) mythic.
The parents in the Percy Jackson books run the gamut from very cool to extremely evil. To facilitate our discussion of them, I’d like to introduce: Sarah’s Sliding Scale of Parenting Skills.
Okay, so it’s not actually a sliding scale. It’s more of a report card. But that just doesn’t have the same ring to it. After all, what’s more important: accurate use of vocabulary or catchy alliteration? Don’t answer that.