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Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2024) | Review

 A Gateway to Greek Mythology

By Willow Daymond

Rating: 5/5

Artwork by Noémi Gottmann

Contains Spoilers

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Disney+’s highly anticipated adaptation of the popular middle-grade book series by author Rick Riordan, has been in development since 2020.

The official teaser was released in September of 2022, with the first episodes premiering in December 2023. I got into the Percy Jackson series quite late compared to most, starting to read the books only after I finished high school. Since then, I have been making my way through all the books in the Percy Jackson world, and am somehow still not caught up yet, as Riordan publishes books at an ungodly speed. However, I devoured the original two movie adaptations, released in 2010 and 2013. Though I should point out that Riordan had no involvement in these films, which caused controversy at the time as many changes were made against his wishes. I watched them again and again, as many of us did, so I was ecstatic at the announcement of the new series that promised a more faithful adaptation of the books. Over the last three years, I have followed along with all the news and casting announcements, which only furthered my enthusiasm and love for the world. The casting for the three main protagonists is perfect, with Percy played by Walker Scobell, Annabeth by Leah Sava Jeffries, and Grover by Aryan Simhadri. They just come to life on screen. Even in press interviews, it's as if the three teens fell straight out of the books. So, as I started the first episode of Percy Jackson and the Olympians I was (tentatively) excited.

The show follows 12-year-old Percy who is a half-blood — this is a term coined by Riordan which means a demi-god (half-god, half-mortal). Percy is abruptly thrown into a new world of Greek myth after arriving at Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for the demi-god children of the gods made to both train them and keep them safe. Percy is tasked with finding Zeus’ famous lightning bolt, which he is accused of stealing. He, Annabeth, and Grover are then sent on a journey to try and save Olympus, along with the mortal world, from a devastating war between the gods.  This series is a brilliant book-to-TV adaptation. Even though it is not perfect — in my opinion no book adaptation can be — it tackles themes from the books in a way that the films didn’t even attempt to do. 

The adaptation is enhanced by the fact that any changes or additions that have been made, were written by the author himself, Rick Riordan. He has stated that this TV adaption has not only made his world come to life but also that he's been able to revisit the story and make small changes (often explained on his Twitter account) to things that didn't make sense in the original story.

Artwork by Noémi Gottmann

Rick Riordan has also been posting about each episode on social media, providing us with behind-the-scenes content from the show. Riordan has said that he and a co-runner created a series bible for the show in order to maintain book-accurate character details and settings. Overall, it has been good to see all the small elements that are included in the show, some of which were lost in other adaptations: the orange shirts, blue food, and the Camp Half-Blood bead necklaces, plus the inclusion of all the locations such as the St Louis archway and the fairground. It shows the real hero's journey that our main protagonists go on. The sets and worldbuilding in the series are beautiful, but also so intricate; with every shot there are lots of details and easter eggs to notice. The episode titles for the series are also great, with each episode titled after one of the chapters in the book such as, ‘A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers’ and ‘We Take A Zebra To Vegas’. The book lover in me adores this, and it should definitely be a trend for future book-to-television adaptations. The original Percy Jackson series is currently considered a great, classic children's series, up there with Narnia, The Famous Five, Mary Poppins, and so on — and the show's success will surely only add to the success of the books.

On a personal note, the character of Percy Jackson is very important to me because he is one of, if not the first, character I’ve seen on-screen who has dyslexia.

The character has dyslexia and ADHD, a purposeful decision made by Riordan because his son is neurodivergent and has Dyslexia and ADHD. This heavily influenced the story as the book Percy Jackson and The Lighting Thief was first told to his son as a bedtime story.

It was one of the first pieces of representation of this kind that I saw, and as someone with dyslexia and dysgraphia, it was great to see this represented on screen. I hope that in the future there will be more characters on screen like this too as it is so important to have this representation on screen especially as this is a children's show and they should be able to see themselves and their struggles on screen. 

As I am writing this, the series is not yet finished, with the final episode scheduled to air on Wednesday the 31st of January. Personally, I can't wait for the finale. I am an avid book reader, and book adaptations both excite and worry me. They can be great shows or absolute flops but, so far, I am hopeful. I have not finished the series, and I am still waiting impatiently for the finale, by the time you’re reading this, the final episode will be out. I hope it is just as good as the rest of the series and a satisfying conclusion. The writing for the second season began in March 2023, although the show has not been greenlit for a renewal. I certainly hope it will be soon.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a great mix of nostalgia and comfort, but also a thrilling adventure series with an engaging plot. This is a great show to watch in your downtime after a long day of lectures. If you haven’t watched it yet, what are you doing?! Go home and watch it tonight.


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