This month, an era came to an end. I have a feeling most people older than me don’t know it.
Now, I recognize the Venn diagram of this author’s audience and people who read newspapers has a tiny center, but bear with me. If you don’t know who this man is, you should.
Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief book has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 550 weeks, or just over 10.5 years.
It was first published in June 2005 and is the first in a five-part series.
Earlier this month, he published the 15th, and final, book in his various series focused around Greco-Roman mythology. He also has three Egyptian and three Norse books.
Those are just the main novels.
Riordan’s books bringing these ancient mythologies into a modern setting have shaped a generation.
I started reading them when I was actually in the target age group.
They came into my life exactly when I needed them to. My sibling handed me one audiobook in late 2007, saying something about having heard good things about it.
I listened to that book on repeat until I had to return it to the library.
By the time the next book, the fourth in his first series, came out in May 2008, I loved this world and insisted on getting it as soon as it came out.
Those familiar with Riordan’s story will know how it started, but I like it, so I’m going to tell it again.
Riordan started out writing adult mystery books while working as a middle school English teacher in Texas.
His oldest son, who has ADHD and dyslexia, developed a love for Greek mythology that became his bedtime stories.
When they ran out of original myths, he wanted more, and Riordan developed the modern character of Percy Jackson — a teenage son of Poseidon with ADHD and dyslexia.
Throughout the series, it shows his learning disabilities as strengths for fighting monsters.
While that’s a great message, it’s not what I connected with.
I developed an affection for another character, Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades, who comes in mid-way through the series.
To say Nico had a hard life would be an understatement and part of the appeal of his character is to figure out his backstory since he has memory loss.
However, we see a quick shift shortly after meeting him from an energetic, carefree kid to somebody who’s depressed and angry.
As somebody who developed heavy depression after hitting puberty, I could relate to Nico.
He’s young, impressionable and easily manipulated, at least in the beginning.
However, over the eight books Nico appears in, the reader is never given a reason to question his loyalty to his family, the gods and his father in particular.
They have disagreements and arguments; Nico lets Hades know when he doesn’t agree with something the god is doing. Nico does things his way, but at the end of the day, he does the right thing.
As somebody who struggled with depression, seeing a character coping with the same issue, but making a positive impact in things, was such a comforting thing to read.
Through Nico, I was told I still could put positivity out in the world even when I felt dark and empty.
Really, those are just two examples of the ways Riordan is connecting with people in a positive way. In reality, there’s too many to list.
With the announcement of a Percy Jackson series in the works by Disney+ and his Egyptian series, The Kane Chronicles, becoming movies on Netflix, Riordan’s reach on a generation will continue to expand.
In my opinion, he’s shaping a generation for the better, but if you have anything to do with young people, Riordan and his books are worth knowing to make your own opinion about.
Shine is a staff writer for the Daily American Republic. He can be reached at email@example.com.