Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Free Essay

Until midnight on Tuesday (6/15), Smart Pop Books is offering my essay about Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series for free on their website!

From my essay "Percy, I Am Your Father" in Demigods and Monsters:

Note to self: Do not become a parent in a fantasy novel. Seriously, have you ever noticed how disturbingly often parents in fantasy novels are dead, kidnapped, missing, clueless, distant, or unknown? Kind of makes me want to round up all the authors, sit them on those pleather psychiatrist couches, and say, "Now, tell me about your mother..."

On the other hand, it works very nicely as a storytelling device: Get the parents out of the way and then something interesting can happen. I think of it as the Home Alone technique. You see it in books by C. S. Lewis, Lemony Snicket, J. K. Rowling... and you definitely see it in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. All the kids at Camp Half-Blood, including the protagonist Percy, are separated from their parents.

But are the parents really gone from the story?

Click here to read more

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At 6:07 AM, Blogger Sycorax said...

I haven't read Percy Jackson, so I didn't read all the article, but wow, you're right about the parents thing.

You live a bit longer if you're a mentor, but that's not exactly a safe role either, is it? You get the chop some way into the series so the protagonist gets a little bit more tortured and has to grow up and stand on their own. Aunts and uncles or bffs of parents do a little bit better.

On the whole, I think that if you're not the protagonist, it's safest to be the love interest. ;)

All things considered, you are pretty soft on the parents in your books. They're under curses and enslaved, but not actually dead.

I don't know if I mentioned it in another comment, but I finally found a copy of Ice in Borders in Canberra. I read it after having been awake for about 30 hours (unless you count the 15 minute snooze in Borders), so I was in an odd headspace, and I adored it. Looking forward to the university+magic combo.

At 6:09 AM, Blogger Sycorax said...

Sorry for the double comment, but I should add that I usually post as Boojumlol with a livejournal ID.

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Laura said...


Looks good Sarah.

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Love the essay! :) Your grading system is fabulous.

At 6:34 PM, Anonymous annadeee/ hedgi said...

i read that essay a few months back in band n, but when i cam back with money to buy the book( just so i could have your essay, it was that amazing) they had sold out.
so i got it on my mother's kindel.
it made me laugh and laugh and laugh- and all of it's true. fairy tale parents have serious issues.( my dad thinks that you should write a selection of short stories about various therapy sessions for said parents/ families. he loves your fairy tale posts as much as i do!)

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Kate W. said...

Yes, it's so true about parents and kids' books. Especially fairy tales and myth. When I teach my fairy tale class, that's one of the first things we cover!

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Sycorax/Boojumlol: You're right about mentors. Look at Obi Wan and Dumbledore. I know authors have to remove the final safety net to truly challenge the hero/heroine, but really, they should put that in the fine print of the job description: "Must counsel overambitious narcissistic adolescent with hero complex and parent issues. Also high probability of death." Anyway, so happy you found Ice in Canberra and so thrilled that you enjoyed it! Thanks!

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Laura: Thanks so much!

Priya: Thanks! If I were a real teacher, I think I'd be guilty of grade inflation. I felt guilty handing out D's and F's. :)

Annadeee/Hedgi: Yay! So glad it made you laugh. Tell your dad that's a GREAT idea.

KateW: So cool that you teach a fairy tale class! And I agree that's a very appropriate first lesson. There are a LOT of parent issues in fairy tales.


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