Back in February, I celebrated my tenth blogiversary with a giveaway of a custom reading list. My long-time reader Kim won, and what she wanted was a list of books similar to Percy Jackson for her nine-year-old son, who was just about finished with the series. She’d specifically asked for books with a contemporary boy lead involving mythology.
Finding read alikes (to use the librarian term) for Rick Riordan’s books is a perennial problem – that blend of a modern hero with mythology and lots of action is unique. Instead of looking for that nonexistant series that matches exactly, I’ve split this into parts – great retellings of Greek mythology, good series involving other mythologies (most with a historical setting), and other really popular action-adventure fantasy series. I included some with girl leads despite Kim’s request, especially if my son enjoyed them, because they are good stories and I think it’s important for boys to know that there are good stories about girls and that they don’t have to limit themselves to reading only books about boys. Most of these are linked to my own reviews, though there are a couple linked to reviews on other blogs, and some I have yet to read. These might not be exactly the same as Rick Riordan’s books, but they are still very good, adventure-filled books!
Back to the Greeks
The Odyssey translated by Gillian Cross – A zippy new translation with illustrations a nifty hybrid of modern and ancient Greek.
D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire – The classic source, reviewed by Stephanie of Views from the Tesseract.
Zeus: King of the Gods (Olympians graphic novels) by George O’Connor – A whole graphic novel devoted to each god of the Pantheon. Discussion of Aphrodite from Charlotte of Charlotte’s library. (I have Zeus home from the library for my son now.)
Other books involving mythology
Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer – a Saxon boy must journey to Jotunheim, the land of trolls, to save his younger sister.
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (standalone) A short standalone adventure with Norse gods, historical setting.
The Akhnaten Adventure (Children of the Lamp series) by Phillip Kerr – Modern children find out they are descended from djinn. My son enjoyed listening with my love.
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by Robin LaFevers – The child of 19th-century Egyptologists is the only one who can sense the curses still attached to the artifacts in her parents’ museum. I’ve heard good things about this and very much enjoy her (much darker and older) series starting with Grave Mercy. You could also try her Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series.
Other great action-adventure fantasy series (first book listed)
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson – Prequels to Peter Pan, with a much more modern sensibility.
Gregor the Overlander (The Underland Chronicles) by Suzanne Collins – Geeky Gregor finds a land hidden under New York City in this action-packed adventure.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – Meggie learns that her father can read aloud so vividly that he can read characters out of books. Now he’s being chased by a really nasty villain – and it looks like her mother is trapped in the book world.
Winterling by Sarah Prineas – More parents lost to another world, as Fer learns that her parents never came back from the fairy lands where her mother was Lady. Shape-shifting trickster boy Rook shares the focus, as he has to decide whether he can bend his trickster nature enough to help her or not.
Magyk (Septimus Heap series) by Angie Sage – An epic tale of wizards and dethroned queens, with kid heros and a decidedly modern feel to the medieval world.
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott – Brother and sister twins with lots of mythology and adventure in a modern setting – our teens say it’s the closest series to Percy Jackson.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – The boy has listened to this steampunky WWI-era adventure series over and over again. It stars both a girl dressed as a boy to join the British Air Service, and the son of the assassinated Archduke.
If you have any favorite books for Rick Riordan fans, I’d love to hear them!