January 25, 2010

In Which I Arrive Late to Meet Artemis and Percy



I have way too much grad school reading to do to have much fun reading time, but I do have a slight window during afternoon bus call where I'm standing out in the hall and between hoards of grubby children rushing to the bus, I have small stretches of time where I have to sand in an empty hall with nothing to do. So I've been grabbing some light reading to keep me out of trouble. I've never read the Artemis Fowl series, but always knew it would have been right up my alley as a kid. Somewhere along the line I got this graphic novel version of the first book and I can tell you this for sure: it makes for great hallway duty reading. Much better than the bulletin boards, anyway.

I felt guilty not having read the original, and was prepared for disappointment a la Coraline, and I'm sure had I read the first novel I'd have more quibbles but this is a great comic. The art and color are superbly done and pace is perfect. Not too choppy and not too rushed. I'm sure there is some depth of character lacking, but an amazing amount is telegraphed by the tilt of a head and the look in the eye. And better yet: I had a ton of kids rushing down the hallway stop for a moment to ask about it. The list of those that would borrow it from me next is growing...

What can one say about The Lightening Thief? I've been listening to it on my commute. It's all that and more. It's basically review-proof. It's a hit and there's little else to say. It's probably been compared to Harry Potter ad nauseum, but it stands apart. Similarities: magic, a triad of two boys and a girl fighting dark powers, a school for special kids, even the three-headed dog. Differences: Percy is not an orphan, setting is American, much better pacing, less use of annoying adverbs, but also a lack of emotional depth. Chiron is a cool mentor, but he's no Dumbledore.

Enough with the comparisons. This book (and I'm sure series) does a fantastic job of making you want to turn the pages faster and faster (or listen more intently, in my case) and also go off to brush up on your Greek mythology. I'm a Hamilton fan but if I had a young person around I'd get them Tales of the Greek Heroes (which has a much cooler cover than when I was a kid and a new intro by Mr. Riordan). I did have to laugh at some of the Greek stuff in the book. Percy or one of his companions would mention a "historical fact" about the Greek gods that I'd forgotten, but then they'd get suckered in by something as obvious as the lotus eaters. No worries, though. The book is far to entertaining to quibble about mythological accuracy.

I just hope Chris Columbus does a better job with the movie than he did with the first two Harry Potters. The pretty cool new movie trailer can be seen here if you've somehow missed it.

12 comments:

Kathy said...

don't feel bad for being "late to the party" I too just read Percy Jackson - my son said to me while I was reading it "Mom, your reading that just so you can go see the movie" - he's kinda right - LOL!

Jim said...

Kathy,

That's just what I did for the Lord of the Rings movies!

Lori W. said...

Jim,
Two of my son's favorite series! He wrote Mr. Riordan and got back a nice letter (form but signed and still so cool). BTW, I found you via Mother Reader. I accidentally signed up for comment fest (I love kids books but rarely blog about them; read the directions wrong). Still, it's great to find these book reviews. Artemis is next on my list. It's just been discovered in my home, too.

Jim said...

Lori,
Welcome! Reader, writer, whatever: good to have more people reading and commenting on each other's blogs. I think you'll like Artemis. It's hard to go wrong with teenage evil geniuses! Thanks.

Beth said...

I actually found the first Artemis book to be the weakest; I almost didn't pick up the next few but am glad I did. I think the comic version might be stronger -- I keep meaning to pick it up.

My fifth grader hasn't read them yet; he hates taking my recommendation because I am always right. I think he finds that annoying.

Jim said...

Beth,
Well now I'm even more fired up to read the rest. And that always being right thing? My wife is like that.
Thanks.

Ms. Yingling said...

Wow! Adventures of the Greek Heroes with an intro by Riordan. Cool! And AFTER grad school, WRITE THAT BOOK! Just keep taking notes in your mind now about what your students want. It will be awesome and I'm looking forward to it.

Jim said...

Oh, I wrote one two summers ago. I had a plan to write a new one every summer, then hit grad school instead. But I graduate this spring and hope to knock out another one. I'm actually in a writing group and have been sorta cheating by reading a chapter of that book every month. They love it but I haven't shown it to anyone else. I figure it was my "learning" book and I'll try to write a better one next time. Maybe I'll self-publish it...

It definitely has elements my students would like: farts, peeing in snow, fights, funny dogs, and other silly adventures of two nutty elementary-aged brothers.

klonghall said...

You definitely speak Elementary & Middle school boy. You'd have my two boys at "fart"... --sigh-- Then, "peeing in the snow"... They'd be sold. My oldest found that book (can't think of the title) where the kids go to see the fountain of poop. I think he read it in one sitting. He was so intrigued by that concept.

Jim said...

klonghall,

Since Ms. Yingling really does read everything, I sent her a link to the book. She seemed to think it was worth polishing, so maybe I'll look at it again this summer. Let me know if you want to read it. I still don't have a title.

Theresa Milstein said...

I want to credit, The Lightning Thief for getting my son interested in reading again. He'd been on a long nonfiction bend before discovering them. Since finishing the series, he's seeking out fiction again. His class is going to the movie as a field trip, and he can't wait.
I didn't see Coraline the movie, but I thought the book was just okay. The trailers made me think the book would be better.

Jim said...

Theresa,
Oh, the book is much better.