Thursday, March 20, 2014

Popular J/YA Titles with Adult Appeals

Having been an avid reader of fantasy as a young adult, I decided to try out some of the titles that are popular among the kids at the library - the first of course being the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians - Rick Riordan (M) Percy Jackson series - unlike some of the other popular children's titles - held appeal for me because of their historical connections and clear intent to teach people about Greek mythology. At the beginning of the first book, The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson seems like an ordinary boy. He struggles in school, suffers from dyslexia, and is not very popular at school. Indeed, his only friends at school are a boy named Grover, and his teacher Chiron who is in a wheelchair.

When Percy's math teacher (actually a Fury) attacks him and tries to kill him, Percy discovers the truth about his life. Not only is Grover a satyr who was sent to protect Percy, but Percy discovers that the Greek gods of ancient myths were not only living in New York, but that his absent father is actually Poseidon. Percy joins the other half-god children at Camp Half-Blood, and is soon embroiled in a series of adventures to help free the world from the clutches of the Titan lords.

I enjoyed Percy Jackson, in spite of the fact that it is intended for children, because it had an interesting and well-written storyline which incorporates tons of information about Greek mythology. It has also been nice being able to talk to kids about Percy Jackson, and to help them find other, similar books - such as the Ash Mistry series.

The Savage Fortress - Sarwat Chadda (M) Ash Mistry series bears a clear resemblance to the Percy Jackson books. Ash is also a regular boy, but when he goes to India with his Aunt, sister Lucky, and Uncle who has been employed by Lord Alexander Savage to translate some manuscripts, he inadvertently finds a powerfully magical arrowhead that belonged to the goddess of destruction, Kali. It turns out that Savage has been secretly searching for that arrowhead, which would give him unprecedented powers which he would use for evil. Unbeknownst to both Savage and Ash, when Ash found the arrow a small piece of it broke off and became embedded in his thumb, which resulted in those magical powers being transferred to Ash, who became the Kali-aastra, or weapon of Kali.

Alongside Parvati, the daughter of demon-king Ravanna, Ash battles Lord Savage, overcoming the things of Indian mythology to restore balance to India. In Chadda's new Ash Mistry novel, City of Death, Lord Savage has stolen the Koh-I-Noor diamond from London, and it is up to Ash and Parvati to return it. A third novel, World of Darkness, has yet to be released in Canada.

Like Percy Jackson, the Ash Mistry novels combine not only intelligent writing, but also a wealth of information about Indian mythology. In both cases, I love that these books are educational as well as being highly entertaining, quick and engrossing reads.

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