Commentary: Calling all demigods

Actor Logan Lerman appears are Percy Jackson in a publicity photo for "Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief." (Courtesy of 21st Century Fox)

I grew up on 2000s young adult fiction: The Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians… you know, the classics. Some might think of PJO as the forgotten brother of the YA craze, but for me, it had it all. There was a plucky lead, the cool-girl sidekick and Greek mythology.

The book began in a middle school classroom, and our main character Percy was written like he could have been sitting a row down from me in homeroom.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the first chapter is called “I accidentally vaporize my math teacher” — I mean, what 13 year old wouldn’t eat that shit up? The writing style is witty and straightforward, like a close friend you haven’t seen in a year is catching you up on everything you missed. The book is meant for kids, but it doesn’t talk down to them.

This might have to do with the fact the author, Rick Riordan, is a middle school teacher. He got in the habit of telling his son stories of the heroes of Greek Mythology: Achilles, Hercules, Aeneus. When he ran out of myths to tell, his son told him to make one up — and Percy Jackson was born.

Throughout the series, the characters become friends, battle the bad guys and grow up. They let the reader in on their inside jokes and constantly avoid a one-way ticket to Hades. The books deal with serious themes like betrayal, death and godly torment, all while being genuinely funny. Upon reflection, it was a marvel of modern literature.

The book-to-movie adaptation of the series was so disappointing because of how highly readers thought of the books. Fans piled into the theatre in 2010 to see the actors were too old and, gods forbid, Annabeth was a brunette. I won’t use too many of my 700 words to delve into details about the poor writing and plot, but believe me, they were bad. I haven’t seen that level of fan backlash since the movie adaptation, or should I say mutilation, of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

This is an opinion that spans generations. The girls I babysit for once made me watch the Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters movie just so we could point out the inaccuracies in it.

The girls also told me there was hope — a new Percy Jackson series was coming out on Disney Plus.

Not only that, but it was supposed to be good. They plan to tackle a book per season, starting with The Lightning Thief. Unlike the first movies, Riordan would be involved in major decisions as a writer.

Riordan took to twitter to announce the official green light in a video on Jan. 25. The comments were filled with gushing excitement and people putting in their two cents.

The news sparked conversation within my friend group. Closeted fans came out of the woodwork to say how much they enjoyed the series growing up. Some said memories of Percy Jackson resurfaced when reading Greek epics like the Iliad and Odyssey in university. When I opened the pages of The Bacchae I too was excited to see I recognized the main character as the director of Camp Half Blood.

But would they be tuning in?

One friend, Beatriz Corderio, is adamant about watching the new show.

Bia and I chatted in-depth about our hopes for the series over coffee and raspberry cake. She thinks the fate of the show rests on the details. After success stories like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, she believes it’s possible.

Bia read the books back when she was the age of the title characters, and decided she must be the daughter of Athena. Now 21, she hasn’t given much thought to Percy Jackson over the last ten years.

Bia expects the show will bring back memories of the books.

Any reboot is an attempt to return to where you were when you first consumed the original content, or to revisit the characters and see if they have changed as much as you have.

Our hope is that they won’t change, and they are exactly where we left them when we closed the book at age 15.

Yes, many readers are long graduated and old enough to have kids of their own. Some might think it’s childish to watch a Disney series about 12-year-old demigods. Others may be sick of the endless trail of remakes churning out of Hollywood right now.

But gods help me, I’ll be watching.