Rick Riordan drops the capital-G God-bomb and then runs away! “We shan’t deal with the metaphysical.” (But really, can you blame him?) It must be time for the fifth chapter in Michael Reads Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief…
I Play Pinochle with a Horse
In this chapter I met a couple of new characters, got annoyed with Percy, and had a suspicion confirmed.
First, the new characters: Annabeth, and “Mr. D.” Though Annabeth’s part was small, my gut tells me she’ll play a larger role soon enough, and I’m curious to know more about her. She’s described as having “eyes like storm clouds,” which also makes me curious if she’s related to Zeus. (Or maybe I need to stop reading into everything.)
It wasn’t too long after “Mr. D” was introduced that I suspected he was Dionysus, which the narrative validated for me a couple of paragraphs later. Riordan’s take on the god of wine and hedonism is less boisterous and more serious than my own version, so I want to see more in order to find out how far the differences go. I also like that Zeus grounded the guy. (It seems Dionysus is always getting punished. In Zeus Is Dead he’d been booted out of the Dodekatheon.)
I find I feel a little sad for this version of the god, though. He’s more of a troubled, unwilling AA member. I wonder if Riordan characterized him as less of a party animal and more of a cranky drunk in order to avoid giving kids a “drinking is cool!” message?
This chapter also gives me final confirmation that Mr. Brunner is a centaur. (I’m glad he didn’t turn out to be Apollo.) He’s not just any centaur, however, but Chiron—the most famous. The guy’s been teaching for 3000 years? That’s dedication!
Percy himself earned a bit of a scowl from me in this chapter, however. His statement that he doesn’t believe in gods struck me as obtuse. Skepticism has its place of course, but so far the kid’s been attacked by (and KILLED) a minotaur and one of the Erinyes, his best friend is a satyr, and he’s playing cards with a centaur. Now somehow the other parts of Greek mythology are a problem for him? (Okay, so he doesn’t know at the time he’s a centaur, but Percy he knows the name “Chiron” already and could have made the leap).
So my opinion of Percy took a hit here. What’s more, his sense of wonder at everything he’s learning about seems non-existent. I suppose dealing with his mother’s apparent death would numb his spirits, but that missing wonder could have been used to hook the reader’s emotions a little, and this seems like a missed opportunity. I think he could show a little more amazement without losing any of his grief.
(A new category where I put stuff about which I have little to say beyond a sentence or two…)
- When Percy first wakes, there’s a husky blonde surfer-type with a bunch of extra eyes in his room. Was this possibly one of the creatures on Zeus’s side in the Titan War? Or were they just hundred-handed? It’s been a while since I looked it up, so I forget.
- Percy is short for Perseus. Why did Percy’s mom name him after one of ZEUS’S sons? Perhaps her mythological knowledge was imperfect. I suppose that’s allowed…
- So Riordan and I both went with using “Styx” as an S-word replacement. (I suppose it is a pretty obvious option, really.) Hopefully I’m the only one who uses “Styx on a stick!”, which is one of Apollo’s favorites in Zeus Is Dead.
- I like that Grover ate the Diet Coke can.
- It’s an interesting concept that the gods move to wherever the center of western civilization is, and that’s why they’re in America. (I wonder how European readers feel about that particular implication.)
For some reason no particular lines or phrases jumped out at me this time, so for this chapter’s favorite, I’m going to just go with…
“You drool in your sleep.”