Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book 10: Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian

Book 10: The Last Olympian
Percy Jackson: the Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan

The action in this last Percy Jackson book gets started immediately. Percy is called from his family vacation by fellow camper Charles Beckendorf to destroy Kronos’ ship and slow his approach from the sea. Beckendorf sacrifices his life to destroy the ship, and Percy dives overboard and passes out. He awakens in the underwater palace of his father, Poseidon, who currently fights the Titan Oceanus. Poseidon makes him return to Camp Half-Blood, and explains that he cannot help with the battle of Manhattan because of his fight with Oceanus. Once at camp, Chiron decides Percy needs to hear the Great Prophecy now, and Percy tells the campers that there is a spy at camp. Percy does not remain at camp long, as he leaves again with Nico di Angelo to work on Nico’s plan for Percy to survive the battle in Manhattan. After some struggles and events, Percy descends into the River Styx, gaining the same power that Achilles had.

Pery then returns to Manhattan and meets up with Annabeth and the other campers to begin the battle. Finally, the battle begins. Percy’s forces are joined by the Hunters of Artemis, saturs, naiads, dryads, centaurs, automatons, and Mrs. O’Leary the hellhound. Kronos has more, though, as Percy’s forces are forced back despite Kronos suffering some losses, too. At one point, Annabeth is badly injured when she saves Percy from being hit in his Achilles “heel,” and later Percy tells her that she did this and what it meant. The fight continues, and the Ares cabin shows up to save the day.

Percy and Kronos battle in the throne room of Olympus, and at one point Luke overpowers Kronos within his body. Percy gives Luke Annabeth’s dagger, and Luke injures himself at his Achilles spot to kill himself and therefore eliminate Kronos. The Olympians arrive and defeat the last of Kronos’ troops. They then return to the throne room, and grant Percy, Grover, Annabeth, Thalia, and Tyson rewards. Rachel Elizabeth Dare becomes the new Oracle. Athena gives the job of redesigning Mount Olympus to Annabeth. Grover becomes a Lord of the Wild.Ryson becomes a general of the Cyclopes’ army. Percy refuses the offer to turn him into a god, and instead have the gods swear on the River Styx that they will recognize all of their children, and the camp builds cabins for the children of every god, including Hades and the minor gods.

Upon returning to camp, Percy and Annabeth kiss and start dating, and the camp prepares for a life after the battle

Use of Myths:
Like the other books in the Percy Jackson series, The Last Olympian follows the Hero’s Journey and features several archetypes. Of course, like the others, it also includes myths in that it features the Greek gods and mythology in a modern setting. Percy is the son of Poseidon, his friends are all children of gods or mythological creatures like satyrs and centaurs, and they’re all fighting the army of the Titan Kronos. A new addition to the series is the Oracle of Delphi. She was featured in the previous books, but as a nearly mummified being in the attic. This time, Percy’s friend Rachel Elizabeth Dare becomes the new Oracle.

Call to Adventure
Blackjack the Pegasus arrives with fellow demi-god Charles Beckendorf at Percy’s vacation with his family and his friend Rachel. They tell him that it is time to begin thwarting Kronos’ attempts to take Manhattan.
Supernatural Aid
Percy hears the complete Great Prophecy
Percy goes into Manhattan
Acquires a Helper
Percy and Nico work together
Experiences challenges and temptations
Percy prepares himself and his “troops” for the upcoming battle; the battle commences.

Meets another helper:
Percy goes to the Underworld and talks to Hades.

Has a Great Revelation at the Abyss (Death/Rebirth):
Percy goes into the River Styx and is reborn as nearly undefeatable

Goes Through a Transformation: Percy realizes that Luke was still within Kronos the entire time, and Luke overcomes Kronos to kill himself in his “Achilles heel” before Kronos could manifest and return for good
Receives the Gift of the Goddess
As a reward for saving them all, the Olympians offer to make Percy a god, too. He turns them down.
They all return to Camp Half-Blood and Percy and Annabeth get together

Some components of the Hero’s Journey were more fluid in this book than in the others. The challenges and temptations component incorporates many components: preparing for the battle (including when Percy enters the River Styx) and the large battle itself, which encompasses several days and a large segment of the book. Because some of the other parts of the journey do not occur in chronological order, I have indicated that they occur during the challenges and temptations through putting them underneath it in the table.

One new referral to mythology is the incorporation and the Achilles’ heel. Luke has already been dipped in the river, and Percy goes in, as well. To do this, Riordan briefly tells the story of Achilles, which will show students where that phrase comes from and what it means.

-       Hero: Percy Jackson
o   Even though Percy knows/believes that is going to die, he still fights, putting Manhattan, his friends, his family, and the world ahead of everything else.
-       Villain: Kronos
o   Kronos blatantly is Percy’s enemy. At this point in the series, this fact is no longer hidden. His does, however, use strength and cunning to undermine Percy in every way that he can.
-       The underdog: Luke
o   For many books now, Annabeth has believed that Luke was still “good” and still there within Kronos. She kept fighting for him, even though Percy didn’t like it. Now, it appeared she was right, as Luke saved them all (winning Percy’s respect) by overcoming Kronos’ influence in his body to destroy Kronos.

There are two components to how this novel connects to others and to the world. (1) It is the last in the Percy Jackson series, so it relates and connects to everything that happened in the past four books, as they all built up to this one. (2) Application of mythology to our current world. Some books other than the Percy Jackson series – Starcrossed, Oh My Gods, and Abandon – demonstrate an interpretation of Greek mythology directly playing a role in the modern world.

Often, students read books featuring Greek mythology and don’t see how it could affect their lives. Of course these novels are fantasy to some extent, but they demonstrate realistic portrayals of the possibility of Greek mythology in our lives. This makes it easier for students to understand it. If they see how a certain god might act in a certain situation, they can see why the ancient Greeks would have acted in order to not offend that god. Percy Jackson provides one way to see this, as Percy directly interacts with gods, goddesses, and the impacts of their actions.

As a whole, I have been a huge proponent of the Percy Jackson series, and The Last Olympian is no exception. Fun and action-packed, it is sure to get all readers hooked and on-task. Reading the other books in the series is absolutely necessary, though, because while Riordan provides quick summaries of important events it is not the same and the plot could be extremely confusing. Overall, though, it is well-written and an extremely enjoyable read. 

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