I would like to talk to you today about some of my best friends in the whole wide world: Piper McLean, Jason Grace, Leo Valdez, Hazel Levesque, Frank Zhang, Nico di Angelo, Annabeth Chase, and (of course) Percy Jackson.
Yesterday, I finished Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. This book came out October 2014, but things prevented me from reading it until recently (namely, having not finished rereading the book before it, House of Hades). I devoured it. Which is why, for those of you who have seen me recently, I often am not paying much attention to you. This is the last book in his Heroes of Olympus series – which followed the Percy Jackson series – and it was a little bit like saying goodbye to an old friend.
Ever since 4th grade, I have loved Greek Mythology, so finding the Percy Jackson books was a bit like being in the biggest candy shop in the world for me. But cooler. These books seem like a part of me that I can never remove now, no matter how long I’m away from them, so it seems weird to think that I started them in 5th grade, just 6 years ago. I borrowed them from my neighbor the first time I read them and I remember going over to his house to get the 5th one just after completing the 4th and he said, “It seems like you’ve finished 4 in one month where it took me 4 months to finish 1,” or something very along those lines. I’ve read them a few times since, the most recent reading being over the past summer because I decided I needed to reread all of the books before reading the last one. I went to the beach, toting them all along and finishing them within the week. It was so good to hear Percy’s sass again.
Speaking of which…
Percy Jackson, you have to be one of the sassiest people I know – maybe even the sassiest. You are hilarious, loyal, caring, brave, and smart (although, not as smart as Annabeth). As those are the traits I want to have, I think you have played a huge role in bringing me out of my shell and making me into the girl I am today. You taught me to fight for the things I care about and never take “no” for an answer. You go through things that I will probably never go though (although, as you prove many times, the seemingly impossible is often very possible), but watching you go through that has given me incredible strength and the will to keep going and keep fighting, even when things look hopeless. Especially when things look hopeless.
Annabeth Chase, you are, without a doubt, the best thing that has ever happened to Percy. Make sure he tells you that a lot. I think the fact that he would have died within the first 60 pages without you is a pretty good example of that. You have kept him grounded: reminding him that he can’t do all of it all the time and that sometimes, someone else has to take the risk; making sure the stuff he does isn’t really, really stupid (I mean, it’s Percy, so it’s obviously at least going to be stupid, if not really stupid); supporting him when he almost falls apart. But you’re also a lot more than that. You are the person who taught me how to use words. How to be quick on my feet with them, use them to stall, use them to confound. You taught me that men are no better than I am and I should never – never – let them treat me like they are. You taught me to never give up the search for things I care about because one day, no matter the odds, they will be found.
Nico di Angelo, oh, you strong, wonderful boy. I know you’re not one of the seven, but it felt wrong not putting you in here. Promise me something, will you? Don’t ever let yourself become filled with so much rage and pain again. Promise me. I don’t want you to ever go through that again. I guess that’s what you taught me though: it’s okay to be sad and angry, but don’t keep it to yourself. You reminded me that people do care and aren’t going to stab you in the back every time for letting them in. You also taught me that love is never lost in life and while it may not be the first guy, it might just be the second. Speaking of which… Will Solace, I get the feeling that wherever Nico is, you will be now, so I’m warning you: take care of this lil punk – and his heart – or I will find you and I will put Clarisse after Silena died to shame. I swear that on the River Styx.
Frank Zhang, oh man, you’ve grown a lot (haha, get it?). You’re probably tired of hearing this, but you really are different from the first time I met you. You’ve certainly grown into yourself and I would say that is what you taught me: it may take a long time, but eventually you do grow into who you are and all of the quirks that make you up will make sense. You’ve also taught me that what might not seem like your best choice of weapon could very well be a perfect fit. One of the other things I’ve learned from you is that having a lot of skills can make you vulnerable because it can make you stretched thin, but you can work to make yourself strong through balance and hard-work. Don’t ever let Valdez joke about you again: you are brave, you are good-hearted, and you are a fantastic leader.
Hazel Levesque, how you manage to comfort so many and not feel overwhelmed, I don’t know, but I commend you. You have one of the best hearts and bravest attitudes. You have taught me that what may seem bad could one day help others. You have taught me that one of the best ways to success is to give people what they want, but do it on your own terms. You have also taught me that kindness and love should always be given, no matter what. It is always important to help someone who is feeling vulnerable, rescue them when they are trapped, and listen when they most want to keep things bottled up. You have taught me to create my own path in life and follow it, not someone else’s, even if it’s a harder path.
Leo Valdez, you keep me laughing even when I most want to cry. Now get yourself (and Calypso) back home so the others can stop mourning your death, Repair Boy. Speaking of Calypso, though, say hi to her for me and take care of her, alright? She’s had enough heartache and she shouldn’t have to deal with any more. I’ve learned from you that it may be hard to fix some things – like a heart or a metal dragon – but it is possible and I should never give up. You’ve taught me that sometimes there is a need for building things quickly, but other times there is a need for taking my time and making sure every detail is as perfect as possible. You also taught me to take care of the things I have and fix them as soon as possible, or I’ll regret it later. And maybe you can make Calypso her own dragon so Festus can have a friend.
Jason Grace, first off, thank you for helping Nico see that not every one is a jerk and he can open up a little. And, for the record, while everyone else was complaining about how it seemed like you were replacing Percy, I thought you were pretty cool. I mean, can Percy fly? No. Anyway, you’ve taught me that I can’t do it all and sometimes, I’ll have to give up a responsibility to be happier, even if it makes someone else a little sadder (they’ll probably find someone else anyway, so it’s all cool). You also taught me that sometimes the usual leader has to take a step back and let someone else take over, and that’s okay. I’ve also learned from you that sometimes you have to offer to listen to someone, especially when they don’t want it, to help them be more confident in the end. And you’ve taught me that my family can be bigger than blood.
Piper McLean, who would have thought, at the beginning of The Lost Hero that you would be the person you are now? Certainly not you. You’ve taught me that sometimes the person who feels the most useless will one day be the most helpful. You’ve taught me that your past and your ancestors don’t define you, but you should never forget them because they may just come in handy one day. Family, at the end of it all, is all we really have, so I should treasure them and take care of them. You have been another teacher of mine when it comes to how to use words to get what you want. I’ve learned from you that trusting my gut can be good and logic isn’t always the best course of action. You’ve also taught me that while something may not come naturally to me, if I work hard enough at it, I can become great at it. Don’t forget to teach everyone how to surf!
Uncle Rick, congratulations on not turning this series into a big pile of schist. Not everyone could write a second series following the same characters and not mess it up. But in all seriousness, you have done an amazing job. I’ve probably learned more from you than I have from any of the people listed above and some of those lessons I don’t even know I’ve learned yet. You helped me realize that I want to be a writer so I can bring the same kind of joy (and occasional heartbreak) that you bring your readers. I also hope to be just as involved with my readers as you are and talk to them as much as you do. I know that you’ve had a huge impact on my writing style and helped me find the way I like writing best and I can never thank you enough for that. These books were my friends when it felt like I didn’t have any, which I can also never thank you enough for. I admire how you were able to make characters that go through abnormal things so incredible human and make their struggles completely relatable. I’m not afraid to admit that I cried when I finished reading Blood of Olympus, and I’m so happy that fanfiction exists so the story doesn’t really have to end. I also have to say that I am so glad you made Nico gay because not nearly enough authors are brave enough to do that with their characters in today’s world and I’m sure it helped someone, somewhere, be more comfortable with who they are. I could go on and on for a long time, but I should probably wrap this up soon.
There are so many characters I have neglected to mention for fear of this post never ending, so I’ll do that quickly now: Grover, Coach, Chiron, Luke, Connor, Travis, Clarisse, Silena, Beckendorf, Bob, Will, Tyson, Ella, Reyna, Dakota, Briares, Damasen, Mrs. O’Leary, all of the gods (I’m not listing them out for fear of forgetting and offending one of them), and all other demigods (except for Octavian) and good monsters, thank you for teaching me so much and always being there for me.
To all of the demigods mentioned above, one more huge thank you and now go rest; you’ve earned it.
To Uncle Rick, I can’t wait until October.