Books: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Series! (The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian)
Author: Rick Riordan
Like/Don't Like: Really liked
First, I need to thank two people: 1.) Valerie, who lent me the first book, which may not seem like such a big deal but really is when you consider that she lives in New York and mailed it to me, and 2.) Teresa, who bought the whole series and then let me read it before she did, which, if you're a book lender-outer, is a sacrifice. May the gods of Olympus shower peanut M&Ms upon you girls.
Okay, on to the review. I'm going to say this upfront because when you read the first book you're going to get the feeling that you've read this all before. Perhaps in a really epic series about a wizard. Percy Jackson is a kid who finds out he's the son of Poseidon and he ends up at this magical camp for half-bloods. He has two best friends, a fumbling satyr named Grover and smarty-pants Annabeth. He finds out that there is a prophecy about him that he will need to save the world. So yes, there are some similarities. Just like there are similarities in Harry Potter to Star Wars. It's a classic tale. And after the first book you don't even notice them anymore.
The books involve a lot of Greek mythology - something I know very little about - and they're presented in a way that doesn't make you feel like you're sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture. The major and minor gods are all presented as well as the recounting of a lot of the heros' tales. But it's all done through the action - which is fast paced and fun. That's my biggest praise for the books actually. There isn't a lot of downtime. The story just keeps on moving. Perfect for kids as well as adults (ahem) with short attention spans. The characters are great. The monsters are scary but not too scary for kids. The melding of reality and mythology was seamless. And they were just really fun to read.
If I had one complaint it would be this: the headquarters for the evil Titans is in San Fransisco and the entrance to the underworld is in Los Angeles. Why at the hate for the west coast, Riordan? Do you have something against sunshine?