Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

I was so excited to get to the last book in this series. Percy Jackson's five books have proven to be an intelligent and entertaining read full of Greek mythology and young characters determined to keep the world safe. They only have their own demigod abilities and strength of character to sustain them and while it's not always enough, the sheer will of these demigods exceeds the expectations of their enemies as well as their parents.

This fifth book takes us to the final battle foretold in a prophecy about a child of one of the big three gods - Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. This demigod will have to make a decision that will determine whether Olympus falls or survives. We have no hints as to what this decision is going to be, but Percy, the son of Poseidon, internalizes the prophecy and decides that he just has to fight as much as he possibly can. He does everything to hone his skills and enhance his chance of defeating his enemies. He thinks he has to do it all on his own. Without giving away the final decision of the prophecy, the biggest lesson Percy learns is that it's not about how strong you are, but who you can depend on that really makes you a hero. His friends are imperative components in this battle and Percy would never get to the "decision" without the fight and support of those closest to him. Even his mom, a regular human jumps in when the time comes to do battle.

The theme of this book is trust. You see what happens when trust is threatened. You see what happens when trust is given even in uncertain terms. You see the reward of trusting your friends even when your brain is telling you to run off alone. It's a wonderful lesson for young readers to learn - that you aren't alone, that you can build important relationships through your actions, through trust. It's almost like a subliminal lesson since a younger reader would definitely be all caught up in the action of a very fast-paced book.

The series wraps up but it doesn't feel like it's over. I haven't ready up on the rest of Riordan's books, but I believe these demigods reappear in other series. I definitely would like to see more of Percy Jackson and his friends. It has been great to find a young adult series that's so engaging and fun and intelligent to read.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

2013 reread #5
I absolutely love this book. I can't pinpoint an exact reason why this is one of my favorite books; maybe because it's about family, or the importance of having people in your life who love you, or maybe I like this book so much because it takes place in a time period I'm particularly fond of, it's really anyone's guess. I do know, that aside from the book itself being a favorite, Josephine March is easily one of my favorite characters in literature. She's blunt and awkward and smart and loving -just an absolutely wonderfully written character. Being a classic in every sense of the word, this is a book everyone should read.

Capturing an entire period in history through one simple family, Little Women uses the personalities of the four March daughters to walk us through time. Meg lives the simple, proper life of the time. She likes to follow the rules and enjoys that her life happens in a small way. Jo is honestly like a feminist before the movement was even a twinkle in any lady's eye. She doesn't always say the right thing, she stands up for herself, she is really the master of her own fate lives on her own longer than anyone else. Beth is symbolic of the times. She dies young like so many soldiers did during the Civil War before getting to have a full, adult life. Amy is the social climber and indicative of a lot of women at the time looking to rise out of poverty through marriage. Although she does end up marrying for love, her constant quest to improve and refine herself does make her more eye-catching to the wealthier sect of society. It's a microcosm of society.

Jo is still the heroine though. She's the one who sacrifices her independence to take care of Beth. She refuses to marry without love. She's always there supporting her sisters and her family. She's the one who really cares for others no matter if they're her family or not.

I like this book because of how real it feels. The lives of our characters feel real. They suffer as heavily as they find happiness in the regular joys of life.

I don't feel like I need to really talk about this book since if you don't know the plot already, you cannot call yourself well-read. I just love the way this book makes me feel and reading this book is like coming home in a way since it has been with me throughout my life. It made my reread list because the story never gets old and is always a pleasure to read.