Continuing my journey through the Percy Jackson series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians – The Titan’s Curse proves to be an exciting and fun story. I didn’t expect to have my own perception of Greek heroes scrutinized to the degree we see here. I wasn’t expecting The Titan’s Curse to be as dark and complex as it was and I loved it.
The Titan’s Curse makes for a good introspective look on what it is that makes a hero from Greek mythology’s standards. It isn’t all as black and white as we are lead to believe growing up and anyone who has studied Greek Mythology knows that not all Greek heroes were really morally upstanding people. Those heroes were people with both their strengths and their failings and I was surprised to see how much depth Riordan takes in exploring this theme with Percy and his friends. They’re all heroes but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all going to do the right thing. Percy grows to understand that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the heroes of old that he looked up to were good people. It doesn’t go as deep as it could which is understandable as the old greek mythos is not very child friendly, however what is explored here is still well executed within the plot.
Truth be told when Thalia was revealed in book 2 I had my reservations about what kind of character she would turn out to be. Especially from the vision that Percy had, it felt almost like too much of a foreshadowing event to make Thalia more of a plot device than a fully realized character. I was delightfully mistaken however as she turned out to be one of my favorites in the Percy Jackson cast of characters. She goes through a well written character arc through The Titan’s Curse that I didn’t initially expect. There’s a parallel between her and Percy as both are children of the Big Three. Not just that, she’s the child of head god. She’s gone through so much emotional turmoil and it’s hard to predict what she’ll do next but in a way that’s well written and not random. It’s fantastic and wonderful!
Just as in the previous books, in The Titan’s Curse, we continue Percy’s adventure in exploring Greek Mythology within the modern age. The exploration of the Greek world overlapping the modern day United States is no longer the main world building tool. Rather this time around the monsters and old creatures of Greek Mythology are brought to the forefront to build upon the world already set up. The references are done tastefully, adding to the cleverness of how Percy and his friends handle their challenges. I particularly enjoyed the fact that this adventure, similar to the previous books, resembled the trials of a certain Greek hero. Rather than only parallel that hero’s journey, Riordan also added in a commentary of that hero which I thought was well done. I don’t want to risk spoiling it but it was wonderful when I realized it.
The Hunters of Artemis take center stage as the main focus and their impact on the group dynamic makes for an interesting take on the goddess Artemis. Admitted bias, Artemis is one of my favorites as I always liked her stern huntress character. I was surprised how Riordan chose to portray her but it served the story well. What was further interesting was that Riordan had chosen to twist some of the old mythological tales to insert a few characters to add to those stories as well as the Percy Jackson series. The way it’s done blends nicely with both the Greek references and the story. At no point did anything feel jarring or out of place.
The Titan’s Curse is a rather different experience than the first two books. It has a far darker tone than the first two novels which caught me off guard. I didn’t expect Percy to have to deal with complex issues between him, his friends and his family. There were deeper issues regarding family alluded to in the previous books but not explored fully and it feels like the same situation here. However the themes explored here are more about the idea of heroes, what they want and what they will do to get it. There are so many mysteries that you can’t help but keep reading to find out what happens next, what the truth really is. There are quite a few different arcs that are progressing towards a point but at no point do any of them interfere with the other. All the storylines come together to create a satisfying adventure that slowly builds up to a climactic finish that makes use of the various Greek mythological references that Riordan pulls from.
I think similar to how JK Rowling planned the Harry Potter series, Riordan is choosing to have his books grow with the audience reading it. The pacing of The Titan’s Curse is a lot slower than the previous books, giving more time for exploration of the characters and the relationships between them. The flow was still excellent, flowing from chapter to chapter without issue that allows for long reading sessions with little fatigue or boredom. However, and I think this is more a style choice he’s choosing to keep, I find that the chapter titles still serve to give too strong of a hint as to what is coming next. It’s not as egregious as it was with book 2, but I still found myself ignoring the chapter titles so as to experience the story without spoilers.
What Writers can learn from this Book
The Titan’s Curse offers a lot for anyone wanting to start out writing middle grade fiction to grow with its audience. Similar to Harry Potter, Percy Jackson grows along with the audience reading it. The Titan’s Curse has a far darker tone and what feels like a more mature storyline with complex characters interwoven with references to Greek mythology. The characterization of Artemis and her Hunters are more nuanced than Ares and the other Gods previously described in The Lightning Thief which allows for some more thought provoking discussion. It’s definitely a more developed storyline as it explores the character development of Percy and his friends and their relationships with the Greek pantheon and other deities.