THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE. You have been warned.
Welcome to The Percy Jackson Project! Today is the long-awaited part two of my discussion of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters. I got a bit distracted reviewing other books and my soul was temporarily sucked into the swirling vortex that is 2020, but never fear! I am back, and ready to give you the hottest takes my microwave memory can provide of the book I read two months ago and just skimmed again so that I could try and write a proper review. (Cue dashing wink.)
In part I of my analysis I spent a lot of time on characters, and I promised to spend more of this post on the plot of the book, but I’m not sure how interesting that would be, and so I’m going to use it instead to speculate about the series. The whole point of the Percy Jackson Project is that I’m reading these books to unpack them in the ways I never did when I was younger, since I feel that I never gave them the chance they properly deserved. I think part of the fun of reading a kids book while an adult is that you use an incongruent lens and also because I have Tumblr knowledge and remember vague bits of Percy Jackson trivia trying to piece together what is going to happen before it does will be entertaining.
Reading The Sea of Monsters as an adult, I had a really good time, but I was fairly outraged at the gods for subjecting the campers to Tantalus, who was subjected to the underworld for literally trying to feed his son to the gods. I tend to get very defensive of kids getting mistreated.
I am very curious as to what the endgame of Kronos. I know that he is the big bad and I feel like I remember something about Luke not really being a bad guy and is in fact possessed? But that might have been fanfiction. I do wonder, though, how much Luke is going to play a factor in continuing to manipulate the emotions of Annabeth and Percy, especially since I totally agree with readings I’ve seen of both Annabeth and Percy having crushes on Luke. I think the text makes it explicit with Annabeth, if I am remembering what Tumblr said about later books correctly, and I can totally see it with Percy, especially with how he recognizes Luke’s voice immediately because he’ll “never forget it” and how he thinks Luke looks like an “evil male model” (125).
Percy being a bisexual icon aside, I am wondering what Luke and Kronos must gain by waking Thalia up and having two contenders for the prophecy and now I am wondering why they want the prophecy to happen? Because Luke tried to kill Percy in the last book, so why would they want Thalia to wake up, unless they could not kill her as a tree? But if they why would they let them get the fleece? Or I guess they did try to stop them at every turn and they did try to kill them a bunch of times, but it just feels really ineffectual and like if they were much more competent it wouldn’t have worked. Maybe it is silly for me to be rooting against the heroes, but it does feel like their job was a little too easy. But then again Luke and Kronos do not have a whole lot of people on their side against the whole of Olympus and most of the Half-Bloods, so they are keeping a mostly low profile.
I feel like as interesting as parts of this book were, this is very much a set-up novel, and we are not getting into the meat of the story yet. I was going to say that I didn’t think that Percy changed very much from the beginning of the story to the end, but I guess there was some character development in that he grew to accept Tyson as his brother more than simply his friend. There is a real moment of growth for Percy when they are all fight Polyphemus for the golden fleece and Grover and Clarisse are each urging Percy to kill Polyphemus, but Percy hesitates because
for the first time it sank in that he was a son of Poseidon, too. Like Tyson. Like me. How could I just kill him in cold blood?p. 219
And even though attacking Polyphemus would have been the right thing to do — Polyphemus had no intention of granting Percy any kind of mercy and it was only because of Tyson that Percy made it out of that situation alive — I still really admire Percy for that moment and for that empathy because I appreciate that part of his character. Percy is someone who sees the best in people, and sees the good which people are capable of, even when they are not capable of it themselves. That said, I get the feeling that, going forward in the series, there are going to be those who take advantage of Percy because of that, and he may lose some of that softness, which is a shame for Percy, and also a shame for all the people who that happens to in general, because as a phenomenon this is something that occurs to far too many people.
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.Iain Thomas
This is calling to me, maybe because of how hectic this never-ending year has been, maybe because I am finding it hard to digest all the pain and suffering. But reading this reminded me that sometimes I need to be soft, and to see the kinship I have with other people. Sometimes they will betray me and attack despite the kindness I have shown, but my true family has my back and will protect me where I falter.