Press enter or return to search.

Opinion & Editorial

Is Percy Jackson a Modern Classic?

What makes a book a “modern classic”? Is it the characters? Soaring popularity? A compelling story? Why do we award this coveted title on some series and not another? The answer to this question lies in a book many read during middle school. 

The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan checks all the boxes listed above and which has remained a staple in many kids’ bookshelves since 2005 has recently gained popularity due to the new Disney+ show airing every Tuesday. While the literary landscape is filled with trends that pass as quickly as they come, the Percy Jackson series doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, with the sales of original books staying above 100 million yearly since their original release, according to Words Rated. 

Year after year, these sales prove the book’s timelessness, with story elements that focus on the universal struggles of friendship and identity that can resonate with almost anyone. Spin-off titles like the Heroes of Olympus books or the Magnus Chase series demonstrate the reader base’s investment in the series, leaving many readers (including myself) to call for more additions to the Percy Jackson universe.

As for its characters, the Percy Jackson series shows resilient yet flawed heroes of all backgrounds working to overcome any obstacles thrown in their way. In the books, all demigods have an intellectual disability like ADHD and dyslexia, providing both meaningful representation and dissolving the stigma surrounding these conditions. Instead of holding the demigods back, it is viewed as something to be proud of. Riordan’s storytelling not only captures the essence of classical mythology but also infuses it with a modern sensibility that speaks to the challenges and triumphs of today’s youth, writing stories that are grounded in the struggles of growing up, while also balancing elements from stories like the Iliad. 

So, who makes a book a “modern classic”? I think the answer is found in you, the reader, and in the lasting impact the books we read and learned from left on us as we grow up: books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and yes, the Percy Jackson series.

As we grow up and pass down our worn copies of the series we cherished as kids, the essence of a modern classic is made from our memories and lessons learned from the adventures those pages took us on. The answer can be found in the characters that reflect us in appearance and spirit. And the answer can be seen in the new generation cracking open the books we love.


Comments are closed.