Sunday, March 27, 2011


Percy Jackson is a teenager with a lot of problems--he has ADHD, dyslexia, and keeps getting thrown out of schools for bad behavior. His troubles only get worse when he's kicked out of Yancy Academy and goes home for the summer, which is when he finds out he's a demigod who is only safe at Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp built for children of the Greek gods. If all that isn't enough, now Percy has to go on a quest to stop the Olympian deities from destroying the world by fighting amongst themselves.

I listened to this on audio with Jesse Bernstein as the narrator and ZOMFG HE WAS AWFUL. He read at the pace of a snail and was really cheesy about it, as if he was reading to five-year-olds. Maybe if I was five years old this wouldn't be a huge annoyance, but I'm not, so it was. In addition, he had this habit of reading the end of sentences as if they didn't end with periods, but commas. IT DROVE ME FREAKING CRAZY!!!! For example, Bernstein would sound like he was reading,
All the way into the city, I put up with Nancy Bobofit, the freckly redheaded kleptomaniac girl, hitting my best friend Grover in the back of the head with chunks of peanut butter-and-ketchup sandwich...,

and then a new paragraph would start! I can't count the number of times I felt like I was left hanging off the end of a sentence. He also had problems with making exclamations in the dialog sound really flat, and sentences that were supposed to be flat sounded, paradoxically, like exclamations. Oh, and he can't do a Southern accent for shit. I can feel my blood pressure rise just thinking of the way Bernstein read this book, it was soooooo annoying.

Ergo it's a serious credit to Riordan's storytelling skills that I didn't just rip the CD out of my car stereo and start on another audiobook. I wanted to, believe me; but every time I felt like my sanity needed to be saved, some interesting twist in the story would convince me to keep listening to find out what happened next. There's a lot of action in the novel and Percy is always facing some new type of challenge.

Aside from the maddening narrator, this book is pretty good, although not without problems. Percy's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and all the things he discovers during the course of the novel--from the identity of his father, to who the baddy bad guy is--are insanely obvious from the get-go. Hint: Hermes is the god of thieves, hellooooooo. Also, the environmental stuff was not well-done. It wasn't integrated into the plot and came off as preachy and kind of random. New Jersey is a forested paradise and the Pacific Ocean has so much litter in it you can't swim? I'M SURE.

Despite alllllll these problems, though, I still did enjoy the book. Like I said, Riordan can keep you engaged in the story even when you know what's going to happen. Percy is a totally likable character, and I loved how the book played with Greek myths and gave them modern-day twists. I also liked that Percy traveled West on his adventure--I guess you could sort of call this book a Western! I'm not sure I can handle another audiobook with Bernstein, but I am intrigued enough to check out the rest of the series and see what happens next.

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