Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fans of "The Lightning Thief" will like these reads

The movie
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief will be in theaters this month. Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series of books combine real-world action and adventure with fantastical elements and mythology. Most of the books listed below have a realistic setting with mythical people and/or monsters shaking things up -- just the thing for Percy Jackson fans. Look for them here using the World Catalog and Amazon search boxes on BookBag.

Runemarks, by Joanne Harris (Alfred A. Knopf) Fantasy. In Norse mythology, the battle of Ragnarok ends the world with the gods defeated and permanent winter descended upon the globe. Runemarks picks up 500 years after Ragnarok, when the oppressive Order rules everything and forbids magic. The people in 14-year-old Maddy Smith's village believe that Maddy, who was born with a rune-shaped mark on her hand, is a witch ... but, as she learns after a mysterious traveler "reads" her birthmark, she's actually the daughter of a Norse god and has a destiny to fulfill. Readers who like complex, epic fantasies rich with detail won't mind the length of this grand adventure.

The Night Tourist, by Katherine Marsh (Hyperion) Fantasy. Ninth-grade Classics prodigy Jack Perdu is walking with his nose buried in Ovid's Metamorphoses when he is hit by a car. He survives, and while in Manhattan to see a specialist, he discovers a hidden underground city that is populated by ghosts. Because Jack is alive, the city's inhabitants don't trust him and the three-headed dog Cerberus is after him--but he is determined to try to find his mother, who died in New York City years earlier. Incorporating New York history, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and a mystery involving Jack's mom, The Night Tourist is a fascinating, otherworldly read; if you enjoy it, check out its sequel, The Twilight Prisoner.

Gods of Manhattan, by Scott Mebus (Dutton) Fantasy. There's a second city alongside Manhattan that not many people can see: it's called Mannahatta, and it's peopled by spirits, monsters, and gods (some of whom are famous dead people). After witnessing an impossible magic trick, 13-year-old Rory Hennessy wakes up to magic and starts seeing Mannahatta and its residents ... just in the nick of time to help save the Munsee Indians, whose entrapment in Central Park has upset the balance of the spirit city. New York history, kung-fu fighting rodents, and Rory's butt-kicking little sister (who has an alter ego she calls "Malibu Death Barbie") all figure prominently in this fast-paced, suspenseful adventure that's followed by Spirits in the Park.

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, by Michael Scott (Delacorte Press) Fantasy. Having discovered the secret to eternal youth, 14th-century alchemist Nicholas Flamel and his wife are alive and well in present-day San Francisco, California. But they won't stay well for long if 15-year-old twins Sophie and Josh Newman don't fulfill their prophesied role of either saving or destroying the world, starting by getting back an ancient text stolen from Flamel's bookstore. (The stolen volume contains the key to the Flamels' immortality, which they must renew every month.) This 1st of three volumes (so far) moves at lightning speed, is rich with mythology and magic, and involves goddesses, werewolves, vampires -- and a cliffhanger ending. The Magician and The Sorceress are next.

Dusssie, by Nancy Springer (Walker) Fantasy. One morning, 13-year-old Dusie wakes up to find that her hair has turned into a writhing mass of snakes! Her mother soon confesses that she and her family are gorgons and that Dusie herself is only half human. This disturbing news is made worse when Dusie accidentally turns the boy she likes, Troy, partially into stone. Seeking advice from the magical realm, she searches desperately for a way to change Troy back--and a way to rid herself of the talking, slithering serpents crowning her head. If you liked the mythology in The Lightning Thief but would also enjoy a lighthearted, funny read, check out Dusssie (the extra "s"-es in the title come from the way that Dusie's snakes hiss her name).

Iris, Messenger, by Sarah Deming (Harcourt) Fantasy. When misunderstood middle-school dreamer Iris Greenwold receives a copy of Bulfinch's Mythology for her 12th birthday, she's delighted; she prefers the company of imaginary people to that of her classmates and teachers, anyway. But when clues written in the margins of her birthday present lead her to actual Greek gods and goddesses, in the flesh and nearby (Poseidon is a short-order cook on the Jersey Shore; Aphrodite does makeovers), Iris starts hanging out with them for real. Even more startling, she learns that they need her help!

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