Friday, March 1, 2013

Why I Like Percy Jackson More Than Harry Potter

Ironically, I never realized that they both had dark hair and green eyes until this was pointed out to me. To me, their personalities are so dissimilar I would never think of one as a copy of the other.

And, yes, I consider both Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus to be better than Harry Potter in several respects. Primarily because, to me, Percy is a much more appealing and moral character than Harry could ever hope to be. Let's examine the facts, shall we?

(1) Harry and Percy both have problems with authority. As a matter of fact, the very first chapter of The Lightning Thief is called, "I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher." Percy does not get along well with Mr. D, the camp director, and in Sea of Monsters he, Annabeth, and Grover break the rules and sneak out of camp to go on the quest. They're no strangers to rule-breaking.
    However, they break the rules and/or disrespect authority for reasons. (I'm not advocating the end justifies the means here, kids.) Percy yells at Mr. D in The Titan's Curse because Annabeth has been captured and Mr. D sees nothing wrong with this- they recruited Nico, so all's fair, right? It's not fair for Percy. And why do they break the rules in Sea of Monsters and leave camp? Hermes sends them on a mission to find the Golden Fleece and (hopefully) talk some sense into Luke. Luke doesn't see any sense, but they retrieve the Fleece and save Thalia.
    In contrast, Harry breaks rules as a leisure activity. He and his friends snoop around routinely under his Invisibility Cloak and get into things they should not. And what does Dumbledore do about this? Nothing! Instead, he REWARDS THEM for everything they do! It gets so that Snape starts sounding very reasonable...
    I actually have a lot more against Dumbledore than I do against anyone else in the series, so if you object to any Harry-bashing on my part just let me know and I'll list my reasons of Why Dumbledore Would Make Even More Of A Terrifying Villain Than The Emperor.

(2) Percy does not torture people. Ever. Not even the monsters. In The Mark of Athena, when he gets the 'behind-the-scenes' tour of the Atlanta aquarium, complete with rare and exotic monsters, he feels sorry for the sad condition they've been reduced to. Helping him achieve this goal is when he gets Tyson, a 'baby' Cyclops, for a brother in Sea of Monsters. At first, he was ashamed of Tyson and didn't want him around, but by the end of the book he was willing to proudly acknowledge Tyson as his "baby brother". It's very sweet. See, Percy learns his lessons. And it shows him learning his lessons.
   Does Harry forgive Draco? Not really. (Despite what the slashers would have you believe.) Possibly, the Sectumsempra incident jolted him a little, but I kinda doubt it. If he had truly been horrified by the way he had hurt Draco with the unknown spell (another idiocy of Harry's: using spells he doesn't know), he would have thrown the Prince's book away in horror. No, he hides it just because he doesn't want Snape to get it.
    And, yes, Harry is capable of torture. Last book, Ravenclaw Common Room (at least I think it's Ravenclaw). The Carrow guy (it is Carrow, isn't it? I never could get the hang of all the British names) spits on McGonagall, so Harry hits him with the Cruciatus Curse. An Unforgiveable Curse, mind you, which would normally get one sent straight to Azkaban. It's a torture curse. It has no practical use whatsoever. (I think arguments could be made for the Avada Kedavra- it'd be good for executions, for instance, working immediately and apparently painlessly-, but not for either the Cruciatus or the Imperius.)
    But people are all like, "Oh, he did it in defense of his favorite teacher, so it was a good and noble thing to do, blah, blah, blah." McGonagall even thanks Harry. (!!) However, he couldn't have just smacked the guy? Hit him with a Petrificus Totalus? Reducto? (I'm sure that would be messy.) There were SO MANY other options Harry could have used! Instead, he just gave in to his anger and used a torture spell on a petty wizarding criminal.

(3) Percy does not control minds. Ever. That is seen as the domain of the evil gods.
    Harry happily uses another Unforgiveable Curse, the Imperius, to mind-control the goblins in order to infiltrate Gringott's. (I say happily, because Harry is certainly capable of angsting about things, and if he had felt conflicted about Imperio-ing the goblin, he would have angsted about it.)
    I like to think of myself as a bit Genre Savvy, and if there's anything I've learned from fiction it's that mind-control is a BAD IDEA. Look at Saruman! Look at the Jedi! (I'm not a huge fan of the Jedi Order, primarily because they have little of a moral high ground over the Sith and do not take basic human nature into account in their code). Look at every cliche villain out there! MIND CONTROL IS BAD. It's not bad so much because of what it does to the victim as to what it does to the controller. It warps them. Terribly. Take a glimpse of what the dark side did to Emperor Palpatine. (Personally, I can't watch that part of Revenge of the Sith. It's almost as bad as Shelob in The Return of the King.)

(4) It is stated in The Demigod Diaries that Percy offered mercy and forgiveness to the demigods allied with Kronos who surrendered after they were defeated. He didn't want to fight them. It's mentioned in The Last Olympian that he tried not to kill them as they were fighting in New York City.
    Much is made of Harry's insistence on using Expelliarmus when he should really have gone with something else, but I think that's just a reflection of his not wanting to kill people. Which leads to my deduction that Harry Potter is a hypocrite. (Sorry, Audrey.) A prominent theme of the series is that death is not the worst evil, and Voldemort's attempts at prolonging his life are unnatural and evil. What are the worse evils? This leads to what I mentioned earlier about the Unforgiveables. It is permissible in certain circumstances to use lethal force, e.g., to defend oneself, if nothing else will do. Of course, the wizards have lots of spells that do not necessitate the Avada Kedavra, so I can't really see it being justified in a combat situation. However, there are situations where the wizarding world would execute criminals. Instead of being executed, however, their souls are sucked out by the Dementors.
    I mean, seriously, what the...?
    You could just shove them through the curtain that offed Sirius, for crying out loud!
    What I mean is, the Avada Kedavra is the least offensive of the Unforgiveables. Just torturing someone is completely wrong- there is no achievable good in torturing someone. There are other ways and means of achieving your end rather than inflicting pain for the sake of said pain. And, as we genry savvy people know, mind control is always evil.
    However, Harry uses Crucio and Imperio, and does not use the Avada Kedavra. This implies that he considers it okay to use the first two, as long as it's for 'the greater good', and that it is NOT okay to use the last.
    What happened to death being considered a lesser evil???
    Q. E. D. Harry Potter is a hypocrite.

(5) Percy learns to control his temper. When we are introduced to him at the start of The Lightning Thief, he dunks a bully in a fountain (accidentally on purpose) since she was picking on Grover. He also makes the toilets explode on Clarisse and her friends. However, over the books you can truly watch Percy mature. He stops losing control of his power, he does not act out of anger or bitterness, he learns lessons from his experiences. Currently, he's having to learn one of his hardest lessons- that he can't do everything. He's having to accept his limitations and that his extreme loyalty to his friends may someday cause him to make a bad decision. In short, in Mark of Athena he has become the Team Dad. There's no other way of putting it. He might be physically smaller than Jason, but he's had the most experience and he is one of the wiser characters.
    Harry, on the other hand... *sigh* Let's take a look at Mr. Temper Tantrum in Dumbledore's office, shall we?
    Case closed.
    However, maybe we should elaborate. Yes, it must have been very distressing to have all that revealed to him about being the Chosen One, but he reacted the way he did. He could have not reacted in that fashion. But he did. And who was the one obsessing creepily over Draco throughout HBP, and then finally chasing after Snape, against all rational thought, trying to fight him? Who refuses to learn lessons from his experiences?
    (I'd like to take a moment and point out that this all could have been averted had they just told Harry everything to begin with. I saw somewhere a summary of the series that pointed out how much could have been averted had Harry just been told stuff. It went something like this, although extremely paraphrased since I can't recall exactly how it went: Book one: "Snape was trying to protect me all along?" Book two: "Tom Riddle was Voldemort and the Heir of Slytherin?" Book three: "Sirius was my godfather and he was trying to protect me?" Book four: "Snape was a Death-Eater?" Book five: "I'm the Chosen One?" Book six: "Snape told Voldemort the prophecy?" Book seven: "Snape was good all along and now I have to die?")

(6) Um, I'd like to state that Harry's jealousy when he and Ron come across Ginny and Dean kissing in HBP is disturbing. It's presented as a positive thing, since now he knows how he feels about her. Um, red flag, anyone? There's a reason that Crazy Jealous Guy is a trope on TVTropes. Girls, DO NOT DATE JEALOUS GUYS. Bad things happen. BAD things. I don't care if they're the Chosen One. If they don't learn that wanting to strangle the other guy is bad, they're not worth it.
    Percy, meanwhile, is endearingly clueless. And very, very, very faithful to Annabeth. I really don't see why Annabeth got so worked up over Rachel in The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian. Sure, Percy 'sort of' went on a date with Rachel, but he didn't really love her. Rachel's becoming the Oracle only cemented it. In The Son of Neptune, after he is officially dating Annabeth, both Reyna and Kinzie try making a move on Percy. He politely turns them down. All he remembered of his old life was his name and Annabeth's face, and by all the gods he was going to be faithful to her, even if she called him an idiot and made him learn things.
    And, let me tell you, it is the absolute sweetest, most heartwarming moment in The Son of Neptune when he sees a demigod family in New Rome and thinks about his future, wondering if someday he and Annabeth will hold hands and watch their child play.

Percy Jackson >> Harry Potter.

It doesn't hurt that Percy pulls off more Crowning Moments of Awesome than Harry will ever dream of. Bringing down an iceberg on top of himself to destroy a whole bunch of zombie/ghost Romans and retrieve the eagle of the Twelfth Legion Fulminata?


Sorry, Audrey. I'd be the little kid clicking my pen and wondering why it isn't turning into a sword rather than the one swishing his pencil and intoning, "Wingaaaardium Leviosaaaaaa."

Or however you pronounce that. I was never quite sure.

Oh, and while I'm thinking of it, I simply must share this:

In Pace Christi,


1 comment:

  1. I did a random search to see some in depth reasoning for the Percy vs Harry argument. I'm also in the Percy Jackson camp, but you brought up some I'd never thought of. It is true that Rick is always on time with his books. I'd like to add that he also never forgets his original audience. Both book series were written for young adults, but Rowling seemed to forget her first demographic as older people became interested. If the fifth book had come out on time I'd be about twelve, and I'd have been traumatized. Rick Riordan gets pretty dark as well, but he knows how to balance it. I mean, Percabeth get dropped into the very bowels of hell, but we still get the humor so it's not all angst. Not that there's no angst, but it's never blown out of proportion and is broken up by lighter moments
    Also a lot of people loved the idea of Hogwarts not just because magic, but it's a place where you go from being teased and bullied to super popular. Except, no, you don't. For anyone who's not Harry Potter, it's just a regular school. Bullying and ostracism still happen on huge levels. If the government had been competent, Harry would have never started the DA, and Luna Lovegood would have zero true friends. At Camp Half-Blood, you're guaranteed to find a place where you fit. Sure, there is also bullying there too, but not to the same extent. And even if you're undetermined, it's likely that they become close to the others who don't know their parentage. At the end of the day, Camp-Half Blood is much more accepting than Hogwarts.